This lightly spiced, tender gluten free apple gingerbread snack cake is perfect for enjoying with a cup of tea after a good meal, or with your morning coffee (preferably after the children have already left for school, if you’re me).
It’s even moist enough that you can seal it up and store it in the refrigerator, something I don’t normally recommend for cakes (my freezer is full of baked goods, but my refrigerator is mostly for fruits, vegetables and meats).
The cake calls for two types of applesauce, one smooth and one as chunky as you can manage. For the smooth applesauce, I used jarred applesauce. Yeah, that’s right. From a jar! I actually really like smooth applesauce from a jar, both for baking in cakes like this and by the spoonful (although my incredibly food-spoiled children tend to turn up their noses at it). I’m not even too picky about it, so nearly any brand of no-sugar-added jarred applesauce will do. For the super chunky stuff, I make my own. All I do is peel, core and slice thinly whatever apples I have on hand (any kind works, but of course the firmer ones will make the chunkiest sauce), add cinnamon to taste (usually 1/4 teaspoon per apple) and about 1 tablespoon water per apple, then cook in a covered, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat until the apples are fork tender.
A light dusting of confectioners’ sugar might seem like gilding the lily, but even a heaping tablespoon should be enough to cover the whole cake—and it helps let everyone know that this quiet cake might not make a dramatic presentation, but it’s got it goin’ on all the same.
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg (60 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1 tablespoon (21 g) unsulphured molasses
5 tablespoons (105 g) pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons (84 g) honey
1/2 cup (122 g) smooth applesauce
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) milk, at room temperature
4 ounces chunky applesauce
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
*To make your own apple pie spice, combine 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom + 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan, and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, baking soda, baking powder, apple pie spice, salt, granulated sugar and light brown sugar and whisk to combine, working out any lumps in the brown sugar. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, egg, molasses, maple syrup, honey, smooth applesauce and milk, mixing until just combined after each addition. The batter will be thickly pourable. Add the chunky applesauce, and mix until the apples are evenly distributed throughout the batter. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a wet spatula.
Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is an even, light golden brown, the top feels mostly firm when pressed gently, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. If you insert the toothpick directly into an apple chunk, it will come out wet even if the cake is baked through. Allow to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before slicing and serving, if desired.