Makes one 9-inch cake
Old-fashioned gingerbread is a warming dessert, especially topped with apples. The apples go into the pan first and the upside-down part is easier than you might think. Firmly grasp the pan and a plate inverted on top and flip them together purposefully. The secret is a sheet of parchment paper on the pan’s bottom, which keeps the apples from sticking.
Butter (for the pan)3tablespoons brown sugar2tablespoons unsalted butter2Cortland, Baldwin, or other baking apples, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper cut to fit it, then butter the paper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar on the bottom.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the 2 tablespoons butter. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture bubbles.
3. Add the apples and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, or until the apples are lightly caramelized but still hold their shape. Remove the pan from the heat; set aside.
1¼cups flour¾teaspoon baking powder¼teaspoon baking soda ½teaspoon salt2teaspoons ground ginger½teaspoon ground cloves½teaspoon ground cinnamon½cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature½cup light or dark brown sugar2eggs⅓cup molasses¼cup coffee, at room temperature
1. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon to blend them.
2. In an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. With the mixer on its lowest speed, beat in the molasses and coffee to blend them. Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula.
3. In the pan, arrange the apple slices in one layer. Distribute large spoonfuls of batter over the apples. Use the back of a spoon to spread the batter evenly in the pan, taking care not to disturb the apples. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire rack for 2 minutes.
4. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Set a cake plate upside down on the cake pan. Use oven mitts to grasp the plate and the pan together with both hands. Flip the cake over and let it drop onto the plate. Lift off the pan. Peel off the parchment paper. Cool slightly. Cut the cake into squares. Sally Pasley Vargas