This moist Apple Ginger Cake is flavored with fresh grated ginger and studded with candied ginger pieces. Spoon warm spiced apples on top with a drizzle of caramel.
Cool crisp breeze in the air. Leaves are beginning to turn golden brown. The anticipation of the upcoming holidays is building.
Autumn is the best time for baking!
Here’s a warm and comforting cake that feels like a giant bear hug.
Apple Ginger Cake
This apple ginger cake is not for the faint of heart.
It was created for ginger lovers! If you’re not a fan of this spicy root, walk away now.
A hefty amount of fresh grated ginger and candied ginger is folded into the cake batter. The cake will smell and taste of GINGER!
- Dry Mixture (all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt)
- Wet Mixture (eggs, heavy cream, vanilla)
- Dark Brown Sugar
- Grated Fresh Ginger
- Candied Ginger
This cake batter uses a combination of all-purpose flour and cake flour to produce a spongey moist cake.
In a pinch, try this homemade cake flour recipe using a combination of AP flour and cornstarch.
Where’s the butter or oil? They are not used in this recipe!
Instead of butter, this recipe relies on eggs and heavy cream for fat and aeration. Beat the eggs and heavy cream to soft peaks. Then gently incorporate into the dry ingredients.
When you really break down, butter is made from the churning of cream. While we’re not using “butter” we are using the ingredient that turns into butter.
Dark Brown Sugar
The extra molasses in dark brown sugar gives this cake its rich brown color.
Sub in light brown sugar for a lighter brown cake color. Use granulated sugar for a paler looking cake.
Fresh Grated Ginger
DO NOT use ground ginger or ginger powder! This recipe relies on the sharpness and zing of fresh ginger.
Fresh grated ginger tastes different from ground ginger.
This ingredient goes by many names: crystallized ginger, dried candied ginger, crystallized ginger candy.
Look for candied ginger made from two ingredients: ginger and sugar. If you prefer to make it from scratch, this candied ginger recipe from Alton Brown is great.
I used the crystallized ginger cubes sold by Thrive Market.
NOTE: Candied ginger is potent stuff. If you are not the biggest fan of ginger, feel free to omit.
Ginger Spiced Apples:
Chopped apples are cooked in a spiced mixture of brown sugar, grated ginger, and ground cinnamon. It’s spiked with a touch of Calvados.
But, don’t worry. This isn’t a boozy dessert. The alcohol cooks off, only leaving the apple notes of Calvados behind.
Then, the mixture is thickened using arrowroot powder.
What is Calvados?
Calvados is apple brandy. In order to be called “calvados,” it must be produced from a certain region in Normandy (Northern France).
It’s similar to how champagne must come from Champagne, France, otherwise it’s just called “sparkling wine.”
Calvados is made from pressed apples (apple cider) that is fermented into a dry cider. Afterwards, it is distilled into brandy. And finally, the mixture is aged.
There are different types of Calvados. This ranges from “fine” to “extra” or “XO.” This labeling refers to how long the liquor has been aged. Usually, the older the Calvados, the smoother is it.
No need to purchase expensive Calvados for this recipe. I keep a mid-shelf bottle that I exclusively use for baking and cooking.
I save the high quality stuff for sipping and cocktails.
Where to buy Calvados?
It’s sold nationwide. You will definitely find it at BevMo and Total Wine and More. Well stocked supermarkets have it and I’ve even seen it at Target.
Why use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch?
Arrowroot powder is a flavorless white powder used to thicken soups, sauces, puddings, and pies.
It is made from a variety of tropical tubers, usually a combination of arrowroot plant and cassava root.
Similar to cornstarch, arrowroot is made into a slurry before being added to other ingredients.
To make a slurry, combine equal parts arrowroot powder and water. Stir until arrowroot has dissolved.
Arrowroot creates a clear gel. Whereas, cornstarch produces a cloudy gel.
Which variety apples are best for this recipe?
I used a combination of equal parts Granny Smith apples and Gala apples.
Granny Smith apples are tart and firm. They’re great for baking because it takes a while for these apples to breakdown.
Gala Apples are on the opposite side of the apple spectrum.
Gala apples are tender and sweet. They don’t survive prolonged cooking, and will likely turn into a mush if baked into an apple pie.
However, when you combine Granny Smith and Gala, you get a nice balance of sweet and tart. You’ll get bites of soft Gala mixed with firm Granny Smith. It’s a winning combo.
Other firm apples to use in place of Granny Smith include: Rome or Golden Delicious.
In place of Gala substitute: Ambrosia or Fuji.
Cake Storage and Leftovers
The assembled cake will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
I suggest scraping off the apple topping and storing it separately. This will prevent the cake from getting soggy.
The ginger spiced apples will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.
This apple ginger cake is best served warm or at room temperature.
Ginger Cake with Ginger Spiced Apples
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream, very cold
- 1 cup (213 g) dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tablespoon (20 g) grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (84 g) chopped candied ginger
Ginger Spiced Apples:
- 3 medium apples (380 g)* peeled, cored, chopped into small pieces
- 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 Tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed
- 3 Tablespoon Calvados
- 1 Tablespoon (20 g) grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoon arrowroot
- 1 ½ teaspoon water
- store-bought caramel sauce, to garnish, as desired
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a round 8-inch cake pan (at least 2-inch deep). Tap out an excess flour. Line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Place eggs in a medium-large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment), beat eggs until foamy. Add cream, brown sugar, grated ginger, and vanilla. Beat for 8-10 minutes until thickened. Mixture should almost resemble soft peaks.
- Pour whipped egg mixture into dry flour mixture. Fold together to combine until there are no longer any dry streaks of flour. Fold in chopped candied ginger.
- Transfer batter to prepared cake pan. Spread into an even layer. Bake for 50-60 minutes, rotating pan midway through baking, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Allow to cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes.
- Run a mini offset spatula (or knife) along the edges of the cake to help loosen from pan. Unmold cake and allow to cool to room temperature on wire rack.
Ginger Spiced Apples:
- Melt butter in a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Add chopped apples and brown sugar. Toss to coat in butter.
- Add Calvados, ground cinnamon, grated ginger, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until apples have softened.*
- In a small bowl, dissolve arrowroot in water. Pour arrowroot mixture into cooked apples and immediately stir to combine. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.
- Once apple mixture has thickened and slightly cooled, spoon over ginger cake. Drizzle caramel on top, as desired. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.
- Peel ginger before grating. Include any ginger juice accumulated during grated into the batter or cooked apples.
- Dark brown sugar produces a rich dark colored cake. Sub in light brown sugar or granulated for a paler cake.
- Listed weight for apples refers to weight after apples have been peeled, cored, and diced.
What apples to use?
- I used a combination of equal parts Granny Smith apples and Gala apples. They cook at different rates, creating textural variety.
- Granny Smith apples are tart and firm. Gala apples are tender and sweet. Together they create a delicious combo.
- Other firm apples to use in place of Granny Smith include: Rome or Golden Delicious.
- In place of Gala substitute: Ambrosia or Fuji.
- This ingredient goes by many names: crystallized ginger, dried candied ginger, crystallized ginger candy.
- Calvados is apple brandy. Purchase it through BevMo, Total Wine and More, or liquor store of choice. Well stocked supermarkets have it and I’ve even seen it at Target.
- Arrowroot powder is a flavorless white powder used to thicken soups, sauces, puddings, and pies.
- Arrowroot creates a clear gel. Whereas, cornstarch produces a cloudy gel.