The combination of warming spices, treacle and black doris plums in this cake make it the epitome of a comfort to me. You could swap the plums for any stone fruit, but I love tinned black doris plums because they can be used all year round and are just so very delicious.

For the cake:

115g salted butter

115g brown sugar

230g treacle

250ml warmed whole milk

1 free-range egg

50g ground almonds

200g plain all-purpose flour

2½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

Pinch sea salt

2 tbsp ginger powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

½ tsp cloves

5 black doris plums, halved and stones removed (fresh or tinned)

For the gingerbread cookies:

190g butter, softened

130g brown sugar

260g plain flour

½ tsp salt

1½ tsp ginger powder

½ tsp cinnamon

For the ginger icing:

150g butter, softened

220g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g cream cheese, softened

2 tbsp treacle

1½ tsp ginger powder

For the decoration:

2 tbsp treacle/golden syrup

Freeze-dried plum (optional)

Hazelnut praline, store bought (optional)

Fresh flowers (optional)

  1. First, make the cake. Preheat the oven to 170C on fan bake. Line a 22cm cake tin with baking paper.
  2. In a small pot, melt together the treacle and butter then whisk in the brown sugar. Allow to cool slightly before whisking in the warm milk, followed by the egg. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In 2 parts, gradually add the butter treacle mixture, and mix until well combined, but being careful not to over mix.
  4. Pour the batter into the lined cake tin and spread out to the sides.
  5. Evenly dot in the plum halves and press down lightly.
  6. Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes. The cake is ready when springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Keep the oven on.
  7. Allow the cake to cool for around 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack.
  8. While the cake is cooling, make the cookies and icing.
  9. First, make the cookies. Preheat the oven to 160C on fan bake. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  10. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  11. In two parts, add the flour, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overdo it.
  12. Roll out to about ½ cm in thickness and then transfer to the lined baking tray.
  13. Dot with a fork and bake until very firm and golden, for around 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  14. For the icing, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter by itself until smooth.
  15. Add the icing sugar and beat on high until seriously light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, then gradually add the cream cheese. Finally fold in the treacle and ginger powder.
  16. Break the cooled cookie sheet up into shards.
  17. Once the cake has completely cooled, ice it neatly and then decorate with the cookie shards and a drizzle of treacle, plus freeze-dried plum, hazelnut praline and fresh flowers if using.
  18. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.