scent of the holiday — caramelized apple gingerbread

by hungryrabbit on December 16, 2011

Caramelized Apple Gingerbread

November and half of December have been an unfashionably warm on the East coast, so it’s taken some effort to summon the holiday spirit. Yes, we had a few cold days here and there, but that’s just not enough for this New Yorker. The guys selling Christmas trees on the street corners are normally bundled up and shivering next to their electric heaters. This year, they’ve worn little more than t-shirts on many days.

I was wondering if I would ever wear a coat this December. Since Annual Cookie Swap, also a day of mild weather, I realized what I needed to evoke the holiday spirit was a certain taste and scent. Weather was less important. When I lived in California, Christmas was still Christmas.

After a day or two of blustery wind and cold nights, winter came back for a return engagement. The scent and taste that got me that day was gingerbread. One bite and I was sledding with Santa. This variation of gingerbread, with added dried fruits and caramelized apple topping, gives a refreshing contrast to the classic scent of molasses and earthy spices. Maybe you can add this to your holiday tradition.

Caramelized Apple Gingerbread

recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
yield: 9 servings


Apple Topping
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup (6 ounces) light brown sugar
2 apples (such as Granny Smith or Jonathan), peeled, halved, cored, and sliced thin

2-1/4 cups (11-1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon Dutch-process coco powder
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , melted, cooled to room temperature
4 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
3 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
1 cup buttermilk or whole milk
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup of chopped dried cherries
1/2 chopped crystalized ginger


Apple Topping
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease sides of 9 by 9-inch baking pan. Pour melted butter into pan; spread brown sugar evenly over pan bottom. Arrange apple slices, overlapping slightly upon brown sugar mixture. Set aside

1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and cocoa in medium bowl. Set aside

2. Beat butter, oil, molasses, and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in egg and fresh ginger until incorporated. Gradually add buttermilk until combined.

3. Add dry ingredients to liquid; beat on medium speed until batter barely combines with a few white streaks of flour. Using a rubber spatula, add dried fruits and ginger until evenly distributed. Pour batter over apple slices.

4. Bake until top springs back when lightly touched, and edges have pulled away from the pan sides, 45 to 55 minutes. Set pan on wire cake rack and let cool for 5 minutes, invert onto serving plate, and let cool for another 30 minutes. Cut into squares, and serve.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara | Creative Culinary December 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

Ah, so it’s the east coasts fault we’ve had unseasonably cold weather huh? We’ve had yours and ours together! This cake could warm me up though. Um um good.

Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) December 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

A friend has been visiting NYC for a few and she mentioned the same thing. Meanwhile, we’ve had some crazy cold days here in northern CA. Love this gingerbread!

Jamie December 17, 2011 at 8:07 am

Ken, I just wrote a post about the non-snowy, non-seasonal, unfestive weather and I pray for snow every day! That said, your desserts are always so tempting and gorgeous and your photos always stunning! This treat just screams Christmas!

Brian @ A Thought For Food December 17, 2011 at 9:26 am

I want it! The whole loaf! I plan on making this ASAP!

El December 17, 2011 at 10:17 am

How can you not love a recipe like this at Christmas. Beautiful.

Heidi @ Food Doodles December 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm

This looks beautiful, especially that apple topping. Although the cake sounds amazing too with all that dried fruit and the crystallized ginger – yummy :D

Jen Laceda December 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm

What I would do for Food Ex (my imaginary food Fed Ex business!) LOL!!! I WANT THAT NOW!!!

Shirley K December 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Oooh this looks soooo good ~ mouthwatering! Love all of your recipes, can’t wait to make it.

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction December 20, 2011 at 10:50 pm

I agree with you!! I’m ready for some cold weather. It just feels weird to see houses decked out in Christmas lights when it’s 55 degrees. Perhaps I, too, should make this gingerbread. It looks divine!

Russell van Kraayenburg December 29, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I love the bottom left shot in the quadtych. So graphic and pretty. And how could gingerbread cake get better? By adding caramelized apples! Yummm!

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