Make Ahead

Ginger Apple Torte

November  7, 2010
19 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 6-8
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Susan Alexander
    Susan Alexander
  • Shannon Roberts
    Shannon Roberts
  • drbabs
  • Manhattan Tart
    Manhattan Tart

294 Reviews

Laura November 8, 2023
Hummm….I used 4 apples, bumped up all the spices in both cake & apples.
I didn’t have Greek yogurt—so I skipped it…..added extra 1/2 & 1/2 for liquid—set timer for 50 minutes—but pulled it out at 47 minutes—I should have pulled out at 43-44 minutes—a little dry on the edges…and I know everyone’s talking about how moist this cake is—maybe the yogurt or sour cream is essential—-don’t skip it like I did….it just didn’t have that pop I was looking for. And I love apple cake, gingerbread, deep fall flavors….I bake all the time—maybe it was just an off night for me.
drbabs November 9, 2023
Oh, I’m so sorry it didn’t work for you.
Nancy H. November 1, 2023
Delicious cake - I used two tbsp. of rum and two of molasses. Also went a bit heavier on the fresh ginger and more spices, which I would do again but make sure that I made it the day before to let the flavours nestle into each other. I love cooked apples and am not a pie person, so I would serve it next time with an apple fool - more caramelized apples folded together with whipped cream..... and maybe that last tbsp. of rum!
drbabs November 1, 2023
Nancy, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed it and made it your own.
Monica April 24, 2023
I used a little maple syrup instead of the rum and might have over caramelized the apples. The cake came out so delicious and moist! Will make again.
drbabs April 24, 2023
Great substitute! I’m so glad you liked it.
Sophieib January 9, 2022
Thanks for the recipe - it's so moist, fluffy and most importantly - forgiving! I followed the advice of others and used 5 apples instead if 3 (and increased the butter and sugar commensurately!). I also made several other adjustments to suit my family's palate:
- subbed molasses for 1 tsp of cocoa dissolved in 1 tbsp of water as suggested by the author in one of the comments
- subbed the cloves, allspice and ginger for cinnamon and threw an additional tsp of cinnamon just to bring the flavour to the foreground

I baked it for 40mins at 180C as my oven doesn't do the equivalent of 350f and the cake turned out soft and fluffy.
drbabs January 9, 2022
I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
cpc January 5, 2022
I made this for Christmas dinner and it was a hit. I followed advice from others and used 5 Honey Crisp apples instead of 3 and I was glad I did. I also made it the day before so that the flavors would have time to meld (and to make it easier on myself). Everyone loved it and it was good for a few days afterwards. I will definitely make this one again.
drbabs January 5, 2022
I’m so glad you liked it! Thank you for commenting.
Mary November 11, 2021
Has anyone frozen this before serving? I'd like to make it for Thanksgiving, but will be traveling, so I'd like to make it next week, freeze it, and then it can thaw as I drive 4 1/2 hours on Wed....I've usually had good luck freezing cakes, just not sure about this with the apple layer...thoughts?
Michconnors October 14, 2023
Did you end up successfully freezing it? I am thinking of doing the same thing!
Sassy January 14, 2020
I have only just found this recipe and it sounds so yummy😉. I saw a review saying that some have made this with gluten free flour and would love to try this? I live in the UK so have different brands of flours to yourselves and am wondering if the brand you use has xanthan gum in the combo? Hoping I get a few answers to this as it is definitely one I know I will love. Thanks.
Shannon R. January 14, 2020
I made this with GF flour that did have xanthan gum in it- ( Cup4cup brand) and it turned out great.
Sassy January 14, 2020
Thanks so much for such a speedy response. Can you tell me what your brand was as would like to compare with mine here as they do vary re make up.
Susan A. December 12, 2018
This was the most wonderful cake! As I'd used walnut pieces instead of halves, it came out of the oven looking like a giant macaron, the color of a perfectly-roasted marshmallow. It turned out it even had a slightly crispy texture reminiscent of a macaron. I didn't have a 9" pan, so I reduced the ingredients to fit an 8" pan, except I did not reduce the apples, spices, ginger or zest. That resulted in a cake absolutely packed with flavor. Also, I didn't have milk, so used half and half. I used two honeycrisps and a gigantic Stayman for the apples. Thank you!
drbabs December 12, 2018
Thank you for commenting. I'm so glad you liked it.
judy October 7, 2018
I really liked this. I did 5 apples, unpeeled, chopped in my hand chopper to coarse pieces, then spooned onto batter in layers: batter, apples, batter, apples, batter, nuts--lots of nuts! Oh and extra ginger--Trader Joes has an excellent non-crystalized candied ginger that I seem to throw into just about any fall baking recipe for an extra zing. But this was delicious. Thanks so much!
drbabs October 7, 2018
Thanks! I’m so glad you liked it.
eljay February 12, 2018
Quite tasty, but not "knock your socks off." Return on investment of time is not great enough for me.
drbabs February 12, 2018
Thanks for trying it. What could make it "knock your socks off?"
eljay February 12, 2018
I made it according to recipe and included the optional powdered ginger. If I were to make it again, I would double the fresh ginger, perhaps increase the cinnamon, add more walnuts to the top and chopped crystalized ginger to the whipped cream.
drbabs February 12, 2018
That does sound really good.
Claire February 12, 2018
LOVED IT. Here are my substitutions:
About 6 French Chantecler apples. I think I could have used even more and just layered them closer to the top. Next time.......
No Turbinado sugar so used brown sugar
Don't like alcohol so used Almond milk - I think any liquid would work.
Don't have molasses so used rice syrup. I think agave, honey or even maple would work too.
Don't have all spice so another pinch of cinnamon.
Had lots of fresh pecans so used instead of walnuts. I think you could equally do without anything on top.
Don't have a spring-form tin so used an oval baking dish lined with baking paper.
Weird oven so had to put it back in a few times.
It was a big hit. I think extra cinnamon next time because it was lost a little under the lemon. Definitely better with cream/icecream. Demolished in one sitting. FANTASTIC
drbabs February 12, 2018
Hi, Claire! I'm SO glad you liked it and were able to make it work for you!!
Shirley B. November 5, 2017
I don't use liquor in any cooking. What can I use in place of it in this recipe? It sounds sinfully good! Thanks!
drbabs November 5, 2017
You can safely leave it out. Just add three tablespoons more milk. Hope you like it!
Shirley B. November 5, 2017
thanks so much for your quick reply. I'm going to make it for our church's Thanksgiving dessert contest!
drbabs November 5, 2017
Oh, good luck!
Julie December 31, 2016
This was spectacular... thanks for sharing! Because I don't really walnuts, I substituted 3/4 C toasted almonds on top and replaced the vanilla extract with almond extract. After reading many comments, I also boosted the apples to 4, and next time maybe to 5... because there will definitely be a next time!
drbabs December 31, 2016
I am so glad you liked it!
Uyen P. November 18, 2016
Does anyone know if this cake freezes well?
drbabs November 18, 2016
Sorry, I've never frozen it.
Manhattan T. November 18, 2016
It freezes beautifully -- especially if you cut the apples in the smaller side! Such a fabulous cake. Happy baking!
Ceres16 October 16, 2016
I made this for a dinner party and it was a big hit. Delicious. I used 3/4 cup of buttermilk instead of milk/yogurt. I also used a 9" x 3" pan lined with parchment and it came out of the pan fine.
drbabs October 16, 2016
I'm so happy you liked it. Thank you for letting me know.
SouthernAZ August 28, 2016
This is just delicious! For us at 5200'elevation, cutting the cream and yogurt by half keeps the batter from bubbling over the rim of the pan.
Shannon R. October 26, 2015
Was so happy I read the comments and saw that people had successfully made this with gluten-free flour! Substituted Cup for Cup for the all purpose flour and the cake turned out great!
drbabs October 26, 2015
Shannon, that's so great! Thanks for commenting.
Tania October 8, 2015
But I wish that I had made more of the sautéed apples for the filling. You can never have too much filling.
Tania October 8, 2015
This is a great recipe, the cake turned out really moist and was an overall crowd pleaser!
Carolyn September 23, 2015
I'm going to make this cake for a dinner party this weekend. Has anyone tried substituting orange rind and juice for lemon ?
drbabs September 24, 2015
I haven't, but I love the idea. In fact, I was planning to make it for a party this weekend, and I think I'll make it your way!