Recipe: Esther’s Gluten-Free Gingerbread

A favourite gluten-free recipe from Mary Bigg’s Country Cooking School.

This recipe has quite a following, as it is a favourite of Wellington caterer Ruth Pretty and chef Al Brown. It’s a “shared” recipe, passing relatively unchanged from person to person because it is so good. It originated with Esther Woollaston, a quilter friend of Mary’s who gave her the recipe back in the early 1990s, and she has adapted it slightly to make it gluten free.


280g gluten-free plain flour
200g brown sugar
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking soda
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
360g golden syrup
225g butter, roughly diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250ml milk


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Grease and line two loaf tins (25.5cm x 13.2 x 6.5).

In a large bowl sift the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder and the spices together. Mix the dry ingredients well.

In a microwave proof bowl, gently melt the golden syrup and the butter for one minute on high. Stir them together and allow the heat of the golden syrup to melt the butter.

Add the butter and syrup mixture to the dry ingredients, followed by the eggs and the milk. Whisk everything together until the batter is smooth and glossy.

Pour the batter into the tins so that they are three-quarters full and cook for one hour and 10 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when prodded into the gingerbread. Cool in the tins for 30 minutes before turning out on a cake rack to cool.

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To serve:
Slice and slather the gingerbread with butter and serve with blue cheese (Kapiti’s Kikorangi is a favourite) and walnuts.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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