By Lola Wykoff
Courtesy of Edible Jersey

This is a family recipe that’s been tweaked with the addition of candied and fresh ginger. The fragrance of gingerbread baking always signified the start of autumn in the Wykoff. This is a special treat, with or without the brandied apples.

Note: the recipe is easily doubled

Makes 6 to 8 servings Gingerbread cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup dark corn syrup (editor’s note: brown rice syrup can be substituted)
1 egg
1 2-inch knob of gingerroot, peeled and grated
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup finely chopped candied ginger Brandied apples
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup applejack, apple brandy (such as Calvados) or brandy
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Make the gingerbread cake: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and sugar an 8-inch square baking pan. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a large bowl and an electric hand mixer), cream the butter and brown sugar for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the molasses, corn syrup, egg and gingerroot and beat until well blended.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger and salt. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk into the molasses mixture in three additions until blended. Stir in the candied ginger. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the centre of the cake bounces back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Continue to cool the cake on a rack.

Make the brandied apples: In a large saucepan, heat the butter, applejack, brown sugar and salt over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbling. Stir in the apples. Bring back up to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring very gently after 4 minutes, until the apples are soft but not mushy, about 8 to 9 minutes.

To serve: Spoon some of the brandied apples (warm or at room temperature) around each piece of cake. Top with ice cream or freshly whipped cream, if desired.

From Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods, edited by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.