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Gingerbread cake soaked in simple syrup

The third day of Christmas 2020 has gingerbread cake soaked in simple syrup. And not just any simple syrup…

A vanilla bean poached pear simple syrup

This entire dessert is warm, comforting and just a touch spicy from a good amount of ginger and a deep molasses.

I am going to keep this one short and sweet, because I don’t really know what else to say here, other than that this is really delicious – the cake and the simple syrup.

What is a simple syrup?

Simple syrup in its most basic is sugar and water cooked together until it becomes a thick, literal, syrup. It is often used on cakes to help keep them moist, and is something I infuse and use in cocktails all the time. Look here for a quick read on simple syrup and how to use in cocktails.

This vanilla bean poached pear simple syrup came about from wanting to poach pears for a cocktail (you’ll get the recipe later this month). When I pulled the pears out, I stuck my finger into the syrup for a quick taste and OH. MY. GOD. it was amazing. So full of vanilla and pear essence. I was in love and svaed that shit right away.

And just like that, I soaked a cake.

Well not actually. I was cooking for a small private dinner event earlier in November, and was serving these super cute, tiny gingerbread cakes. For some reason, they just looked boring. And I mean, they didn’t taste boring, but they didn’t taste outstanding, like they needed something. The lightbulb went on in my blonde brain and I thought, what the hell, soak that lil cake in some of the simple syrup. And well, I will be damned, gingerbread cake with simple syrup was a huge hit that evening and at the other three private dinners I cooked since then.

The gingerbread cake couldn’t be simpler. The simple syrup makes it almost seem like a version of a sticky toffee pudding, but better if you ask me. I like the spiciness and it is absolutely perfect for the holiday.

Quick tip: I made a sheet pan of this and cut out small circles (as seen in my pictures), specifically for the private dinners. The recipe is the same, but the instructions I am giving are for an 9-inch round cake. If you prefer to make individual cakes, bake in a 13×9 pan and cut out small circles for your guests.


Gingerbread cake with simple syrup


For the gingerbread cake

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup hot water with 2 tsp baking soda added to it
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup hot water

For the simple syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 bosc pear ripe and gently peeled, and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cinnamon stick


To make the simple syrup

  1. In a saucepan combine the sugar and water. Heat over medium heat, and stir until combined. Add the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Add the pear and reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid has reduced a little and the pear is soft, but not turned to mush. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool about 10 minutes. Carefully remove the pear (DO NOT THROW AWAY - put in container in fridge for the cocktail you will later be making, or see my tip below) and pour the simple syrup in a mason jar and store in the fridge.

To make the cake

  1. Heat the oven to 325, spray 9-inch round cake pan or 13x9 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl cream sugar, oil, molasses, and eggs. Add water and soda mixture. Then add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Throw in the cup of hot water to the batter. The batter will be shockingly thin, that is ok, this is what you want...something magical happens when you bake (science comes in I am sure) and it works.
  4. Bake this about 50 minutes, maybe an hour. Insert a toothpick in the center, when it comes out clean the cake is done.
  5. When the cake is still warm, drizzle some of the simple syrup over the cake to soak it in. You need to do this when it is warm or the cake will not absorb the syrup as good.
  6. When ready to serve warm the remaining simple syrup slightly and drizzle over the cake as you serve it.

Recipe Notes

Want to make this even more awesome? Take the pear halves, thinly slice the lengthwise and place a small slice of pear on top of each cake or slice of cake.

Looking for a cocktail recipe with simple syrup? Here is my personal fave.

Let me know whatcha think!