It’s very rare for a kitchen mistake to turn into a culinary triumph but today’s Apple Gingerbread Spoon Cake is a shining example of this once-in-a-blue-moon event. This gooey, delectable cake started life as a failed attempt at a gingerbread version of apple cobbler. Don’t worry cobbler fans, I will give it another whirl at some point in the future. I do have a good idea of how to crack it. But the resulting dessert from my blunder was so delightful, that I decided to do it on purpose the second, and yes, third time around. It is the most moist and decadent bite I’ve had in a while. So let’s get into it!
If you aren’t much of a baker, this is the cake for you. Messy by design, all this dessert asks of you is to core a few apples and stir. Aesthetics are not the name of the game here. If this Apple Gingerbread Spoon Cake is hot, delicious, and compatible with vanilla ice cream you have won. While it’s nice to go all out during the holiday season, sometimes you just need a light lift and an easy win. And this cake is certainly that.
We’re going to start by making the apple cider caramel and this, of course, starts with apple cider. Pour the cider into a large skillet and boil over high heat until the cider is reduced significantly. We’re going from 2 cups to 1\4 of a cup. This will happen a lot quicker than you think, so don’t wander off completely. Linger in the kitchen and enjoy the aromatherapy session.
Once the cider has reached a syrupy consistency, add some granulated sugar and a little brown sugar. Heat the sugar until it melts into the cider. Cook for five minutes before adding cream and some unsalted butter. Boil for another five minutes and then take it off of the heat. Stir in vanilla and a pinch of salt to cut the sweetness. Pour the finished caramel into a bowl and set it aside until you’re ready for it. You can make the caramel a week in advance and store it in the fridge. Just be aware that you will have to reheat it to make it pourable. The caramel will go quite chewy as it cools.
With the caramel done, it’s time to move on to the cake. As I mentioned, this spoon cake was originally a failed cobbler. So as with any cobbler recipe, we’re going to start with some fruit – apples to be specific. Grab six smallish apples and peel and core them. Slice them into wedges and place them in a large bowl. I used Cortland apples but you can use any baking apple you wish. I suggest going with a variety with a slight tartness. It provides a very nice contrast against the deep sweetness of the cake.
Now, let’s bring the other star of the show into this – the gingerbread. This is my grandmother’s classic gingerbread recipe cut in half. It is extremely straightforward and it is extremely delicious. It is, however, not an ideal cobbler topping because the batter is far too wet. The batter runs into the nooks and crannies of the apples, which in turn bring a lot of moisture to the finished cake. So what you have in the end is a gooey, incredibly moist, apple-bottomed gingerbread cake. You can see why I fell in love with it.
Start by creaming some softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add a large egg and beat until fully integrated. Stir in the molasses. This is a vital ingredient. In my opinion, molasses is what makes gingerbread gingerbread. We’re using fancy molasses here. Backstrap will not do. If you can’t find fancy molasses, black treacle is a worthy substitute.
With the wet ingredients mixed, it’s time to tackle the dry. Sift flour, spices, and salt together in a bowl. Give everything a good whisk to ensure they are well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold them together until a thick batter forms, Now, for the unexpected part, we’re going to add some baking soda to some recently boiled water. It will bubble like mad, so if you have guests or kids in the house, invite them to the show. Pour the water mixture into the batter and stir to combine. The batter will be quite runny – this is normal. And this is also why classic gingerbread cake does not work as a cobbler topping. You heard it here first.
Once the batter is in place, pop the cake into a 350°F oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is set in the center. You can do the toothpick test here, but just be aware of the gooey apples underneath. The toothpick will not come out completely clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before digging into it with, you guessed it, a large spoon. You can dig in sooner than that but you will burn your face off – fair warning. Give the apple cider caramel a quick blast in the microwave to return it to its pourable state. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to your cake and a hearty drizzle of that molten caramel. Welcome to bliss!
And that’s everything you need to know about this Apple Gingerbread Spoon Cake. A rich and decadent dessert that is dead simple to make and easy to love. Oh! And the holiday vibes are immaculate.
Apple Gingerbread Spoon Cake with Apple Cider Caramel
- 1 oval 2.5 quart baking dish
- 1 Large skillet
Apple Cider Caramel
- 2 cups apple cider
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 Cortland apples peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup fancy molasses
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tub vanilla ice cream
For the Caramel
- Pour apple cider into a large skillet. Bring the cider to a boil and cook until reduced to a 1/4 cup.2 cups apple cider
- Add the granulated and light brown sugar to the skillet. Cook until the sugar melts and bubbles for 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and butter and cook for 5 minutes more. Take the caramel off of the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla extract. Pour into a heat-proof bowl and set aside to cool.¾ cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup heavy cream, 2 tbsp unsalted butter, ½ tsp vanilla extract, ½ tsp salt
For the Apples
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 2.5-quart casserole dish with butter and set it aside.
- Place the apples and all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat. Pour the apples into the prepared casserole dish and set it aside.6 Cortland apples, ¼ cup light brown sugar, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, ½ lemon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger
For the Gingerbread
- Using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated. Pour in the molasses and beat until smooth.¼ cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup unsalted butter, 1 large egg, ½ cup fancy molasses
- Sift the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine. Set aside.1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp ground cloves, ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- Whisk the baking Soda into the recently boiled water and add the mixture to the batter. Stir to combine. ** Pour the batter over the apples and place the cake in the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the center of the cake is just set. Let the cake sit for 10 minutes before serving.½ cup boiling water, 1 tsp baking soda
- When you’re ready to serve, place the caramel in the microwave and heat it in 30-second intervals until it reaches a pourable consistency. Spoon the cake into bowls and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of apple cider caramel. Serve immediately.1 tub vanilla ice cream