Skillet Gingerbread Cake With Apple Butter
Apple butter is the surprise ingredient here. Along with molasses, it makes the gingerbread moist, flavorful and a good keeper. The cake’s got a mix of traditional spices — ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves — as well as crystallized ginger, which has a soft, chewy texture and adds a bit of heat. If your ginger is hard, steep it in hot water for 30 seconds, drain and pat it dry. The gingerbread is sweet, but not very, so it’s as good with ricotta, yogurt, a swish of cream cheese or even a slice of Cheddar as it is with whipped cream, ice cream or hot fudge.
- Serves: 12 persons
- Nonstick baker’s spray or cooking spray, for the pan
- 2 ¼cups/288 grams all-purpose flour
- ½cup/60 grams whole wheat flour
- ½teaspoon baking soda
- ½teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2teaspoons ground ginger
- 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅔cup/135 grams granulated sugar
- ⅓cup/75 grams packed brown sugar (light or dark)
- 5tablespoons/70 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅓cup/80 milliliters neutral oil
- 1large egg, at room temperature
- ⅓cup/80 milliliters unsulfured molasses
- ¾cup/160 milliliters apple butter
- ¼cup/60 milliliters buttermilk, at room temperature
- ⅓cup/45 grams finely chopped crystallized ginger (see Tip)
- 2tablespoons sanding sugar, for topping (optional)
- 3tablespoons Swedish pearl sugar, for topping (optional)
Step 1Center a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10-inch (7-cup) cast iron skillet with bakers’ or cooking spray and set aside.
Step 2Whisk the all-purpose and whole wheat flours together with the baking soda, salt and spices.
Step 3Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the granulated and brown sugars and the butter together at medium speed for about 3 minutes. The mixture will be pasty and that’s fine. Pour in the oil and beat for another 2 minutes. (Don’t wash the measuring cup before using it for the molasses. The oily residue will help the molasses slide out of the cup easily.) Add the egg and beat for a minute. With the mixer on low, beat in the molasses followed by the apple butter.
Step 4Add half the flour mixture and, still working on low, mix until it just disappears into the batter. Blend in the buttermilk, followed by the remainder of the flour mixture. When it’s almost incorporated, mix in the ginger. You’ll have a thick batter. Scrape it into the skillet, nudging it into the corners of the pan and smoothing the top. If using, sprinkle over the sanding sugar then top with the pearl sugar.
Step 5Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top of the gingerbread is uniformly puffed, the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and, most important, a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the skillet to a rack and let the cake cool until it’s just warm or reaches room temperature before cutting. Left in the skillet and well covered, the cake will keep at room temperature for about 5 days.