Ginger Apple Torte

By • November 7, 2010 • 247 Comments

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Author Notes: Thanksgiving desserts have to be able to be made ahead and not require much work for serving. After such a large meal, who wants to start cooking again? I think that’s why pies are such a popular Thanksgiving dessert. This torte is part gingerbread, part apple cake. (The gingerbread is a variation of Laurie Colwin's from Home Cooking. I used to bake it in a heart-shaped pan. ) Ginger is thought to aid digestion, so this is perfect for after Thanksgiving dinner. It can be made one-two days ahead, and the flavors will develop. - drbabs
drbabs

Food52 Review: A fusion of gingerbread and apple cake, this recipe is our dream cake for fall -- layers of spiced batter sandwich tender caramelized apples and on top a coating of turbinado sugar melts to a sturdy, glassy crust. Eat this cake fresh, within a day, and make sure you caramelize the apples when sauteeing, so they get a little oomph! - A&MThe Editors

Serves 6-8

  • 3 large apples (I used Honeycrisp and Fuji.)
  • 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter + ~2 TB butter + more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (if you want more of a gingery kick; optional)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (I peeled a 2 inch piece and grated it with a microplane grater)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 10 walnut halves
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9” springform pan. If you are concerned about your springform pan leaking, wrap the bottom with aluminum foil.
  2. Core and peel apples, and cut into thin slices. Melt ~2 TB of butter in saucepan and cook until it is lightly browned. Stir in apple slices until all slices are covered with browned butter. Sprinkle ~2 TB turbinado sugar over apples, and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, till apples are softened and most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger (if using) and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Beat in two eggs. Beat in lemon zest, ginger, molasses, rum, and vanilla extract. (The mixture will look curdled. It's OK.)
  5. Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time, stirring after each addition so the batter is thick and smooth. Fold in the milk and yogurt till batter is smooth and thoroughly combined.
  6. Scrape half the batter into the prepared springform pan. Cover with apple slices, and spread the other half of the batter over the apples. Smooth top with spatula. Place walnut halves on the top of the cake, and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar over the top of the cake.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake may slightly pull away from the sides of the pan.
  8. Transfer to a cooling rack. Run a knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it completely from the sides of the pan. Open the ring and remove it. If you want to remove the cake from the base of the springform pan, wait until it has cooled completely, then slide a long thin spatula between the cake and the base. Use a large spatula to then move it to a serving plate.
  9. Serve as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a blob of barely sweetened softly whipped cream.
Jump to Comments (247)

Tags: breakfast, comfort food, Easy, Holidays, spicy

Comments (247) Questions (7)

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2 months ago leigh frat

thank you so much. Honey is a great idea.

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2 months ago whmcdevitt

honey....!

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2 months ago leigh frat

any substitutes for molasses? Just don't like it. Thanks.

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2 months ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

With only one tablespoon of molasses, you can't really taste it. The molasses adds some complexity to the overall spice cake flavor. If I weren't using molasses, I think I'd use a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa or powdered espresso mixed into a tablespoon of water to get that bitter complexity that the molasses imparts. I hope you enjoy it!

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2 months ago Hayleilei

Oh what a lovely cake. I made a few adjustments - because of the limits of my fridge, not a lack of trust in this recipe - and it really came out pretty perfect. I also baked up half of the batter into a muffin tin, topped with oats and demerara sugar, and think I preferred the dinky, crispy-edged version more than the cake!
Tweaks:
Had no rum, so used a bit of extra molasses
Half whole wheat bread flour - which surprisingly worked
Half demerara sugar, half white sugar
Didn't have enough yogurt, so made up the difference with milk
No time to pre cook the apples - so I simply chopped them roughly and stirred them (and a handful of sultanas) through the batter

This is definitely one to be repeated. A perfect early autumn cake!

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2 months ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm so glad that you enjoyed it and that your adjustments worked!

Food52

9 months ago Manhattan Tart

Made this for a dinner party; in particular, one of the guests loves apple desserts and one of the hosts (ahem...my picky husband) dislikes cooked fruits (of ANY kind. In ANYthing. At ANY time. EVER). So WHY did I choose to make this? Because I hoped that maybe we'd have leftovers of dessert for longer than the next morning by 11 a.m. Theoretically, this should've worked like a charm...
I used a cast iron skillet to caramelize the random mix of apples (2 lg., 1 small and sickly-looking) in brown sugar; this took at least 15 minutes. I skipped the grated ginger but added the hefty tsp. of ground. I also dubiously added the copious amount of Allspice specified then questioned why my hand was so quick to flick it all in before my brain thought it through. (I love allspice, but that's a lot! Maybe I'd have even MORE leftovers...of the super-mediocre variety... Gah!) Thanks to other reviewers, I used ONLY buttermilk instead of the yogurt/milk combo. Instead of topping it w/ turbinado I used a generous 2 Tbs. of Demerara, a coarse, crunchy brown sugar. It baked quickly and was pulled out at exactly 50 min.
I served it several hours later with vanilla gelato. Then served second pieces to some. Then sent some home with the friend who loves apple desserts (they ate it for breakfast, I heard later). Then watched my apple-loathing husband have a third serving (three. pieces. of dessert.) while bringing in the wine glasses. It was FABULOUSLY moist and PERFECTLY spiced: not too allspicy, not too under-gingery...just PERFECT. The booziness was also lovely but not so overwhelming as to make it unappealing to my daughter. Next time if I want leftovers I'll have to make TWO.

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9 months ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much. You made my day.

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10 months ago Kathy Cooks

I made this last week and was it ever delicious! It was easy to make, although a little time intensive caramelizing the apples, but such a wonderful taste. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out like the picture. Thanks so much!

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11 months ago Foodiewithalife

Ooohhhh this looks wonderful! This calls for a coffee break.
Christina
www.foodiewithalife.com

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11 months ago ahelfeld

Hi, cake is oven right now. The batter is delicious. I used nutmeg instead of clove. One suggestion is to recommend the kind of milk and Greek yogurt to use (non-fat, 1%). Or, specify that any kind works in the recipe. Excited to serve this at Xmas eve dinner tonight.

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11 months ago ahelfeld

I used 1% milk and 2% Fage Greek yogurt.

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12 months ago Ingrid

This is a delicious fall-winter dessert. I made it for Thanksgiving and also for a brunch. It is so moist and flavorful that one can use just 1/2 cup brown sugar and not suffer any loss of deliciousness.

Stringio

12 months ago Krystal Regueiro

I just made this and loved it! Great flavor combination of ginger and apple. To me it's very reminiscent of fall and winter, the best of both worlds!

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about 1 year ago jodikantor

I'll be the last to say it: this recipe rocks. It came out with the slightest bit of pudding-like texture, which I love in a cake. I didn't have ground cloves so I used 1/4 tsp of cardamom instead and all was well. We gilded the lily with Jeni's salted caramel ice cream.

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm so glad you liked it (I wish I had some salted caramel ice cream right now!)

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about 1 year ago Corj

Made this for a dinner party; perfect fall dessert along with some vanilla ice cream.
Made the following adjustements to suit my taste; - Doubled amount of cinnamon and increased amount of ginger (both raw & dried). Added some allspice & fresh nutmeg. Used blackstrap molasses. Gave the cake a decidely spiced-cake/gingerbread-y taste that was right on for fall. I used four smallish Golden Delicious apples and replaced Greek yogurt & milk by cottage cheese that I blended in food processor until perfectly smooth & creamy (I was out of yogurt).

I will be making variations of this torte again and again I'm sure and am already dreaming about a plum one or perhaps adding some apple butter to the caramalized apples to punch-up further.

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Your variations sound delicious. I am so happy you enjoyed it.

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about 1 year ago Lisa Cassel

wondering if you can substitute something for the rum…..

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Yes. Apple juice or more milk both work.

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3 months ago Elp710

Late to comment, but I use Bourbon. Despise rum, but like that tiny boozy kick something other than juice or milk adds.

Have made this about 6 times to raves from all who try it. Anytime anyone asks for a dessert, I am expected to bring this now! Great recipe, drbabs!

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3 months ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

So happy you're enjoying the recipe.

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about 1 year ago Allie Batey

I absolutely love this recipe - it totally lived up to all my spicy, warm, fall daydreams. I just have a question - is it possible to assemble this cake hours in advance? My mom says that the baking soda might deactivate and ruin the cake but I have a party where I would like to make it in advance and just stick it in the oven while entertaining. Do you have any advice for me?

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hi Allie. I'm so glad you love this recipe. However, I would not prep it in advance. You can bake it in the morning and serve it in the evening--I think that would work better (and your house will still smell good).

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about 1 year ago JoySims

Made this over the weekend and loved it! Following the instructions, the torte came out almost perfectly, although next time I might cook the apples a tad longer. I used brown sugar instead of turbinado for the apples and topping and was happy with the outcome. I also used baking spray instead of butter for greasing the pan (came out wonderfully!). Now I'm pondering how this might taste subbing pears for apples. Thanks for the lovely recipe. I'll be making this again.

Per some comments below, I didn't have a problem with the recipe's directions, but if we're being picky, I can see how an an inexperienced baker might want a bit more additional info (butter temperature, perhaps length of time to cook apples).

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm so glad you liked it. Yes, three years later I think the instructions could definitely be clearer. Fortunately, the slide show helps a lot.

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about 1 year ago Tarragon

I made this cake twice in the last week - once for my temple, and once for Rosh Hashana last night - and it was very well received both times. One of the comments was that it looked heavy, but tasted light! I used 3/4 C buttermilk, no ground ginger. Otherwise followed the recipe exactly; good directions.

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm so happy you liked it! Thanks for letting me know.

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about 1 year ago breadwhisperer

Made this for Rosh Hashanana dinner last night and it was the perfect apple dessert - devoured by grown-ups and kids alike! For those of you who bake using weights instead of volumes (like I do) here are the weights I used: AP flour 187g, brown sugar 150g, molasses 21g, rum 45g, milk, 60g, yogurt 122g.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe - I can't wait to make it again!!

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm so glad you liked it. I'm making it today, too!

Barbara_davilman

almost 2 years ago DAVILCHICK

I've made this several times and decided it was the perfect complimentary dessert to Amanda's Fudgie Rum Balls to close our xmas dinner. The problem was when I went to put the batter and apples in my 9" springform pan, it had disappeared. Instead I used an 8" x 8" square glass pan and it still turned out great. Same heat, same time, same everything. Just square instead of round. :)

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almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Wow, that's great. I'm so glad it worked for you.

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almost 2 years ago BavarianCook

I was initially drawn to this for the purpose of using up some extra apples and fresh ginger but boy, what a reward this was! An amazingly tasty cake that is a real comfort food! Thanks for a great recipe!

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almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for commenting.

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almost 2 years ago shs

Thanks- I rarely comment on recipes, but this was exceptional! The photo does not do it justice!

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almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Wow, thank you! I'm so glad you liked it.

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almost 2 years ago shs

Has anyone tried to freeze this cake? How does it hold up?

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almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I've never frozen it, but I think, well wrapped, it would hold up fine. You would not have the glossy crunchy top after freezing, though.