- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gingerbread, in its simplest terms, is a cake flavored with ginger and often molasses. In the Middle Ages the cake was ornately decorated and even designed with gold leaf. That helps explain why gingerbread is a byword for elaborate and gaudy decoration.

Today we think of gingerbread as either a thick, dense cake flavored with ground ginger and molasses or a cookie shaped like a gingerbread man with royal icing.

It’s always a challenge to try to find a modern version of wonderful classic recipes like gingerbread cake. I have made many gingerbread recipes and always felt they were just too heavy.

I came up with this simple home-style ginger cake, which includes applesauce to lighten the cake and give it a deliciously moist texture. Brown sugar takes the place of the dark, distinctive molasses, allowing the peppery-sweet crystallized and ground ginger flavor to come through.

You’ll find this cake doubles as a treat for your children’s afternoon snack and as a satisfying adult dessert. You can omit the walnuts, if you prefer. If you want to gild the lily, serve it with some sweetened whipped cream flavored with a touch of cinnamon. Otherwise, a big dollop of applesauce served alongside is the next best thing.

Ginger applesauce cake

Makes 8 servings.

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Powdered sugar, for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Oil an 8 1/2-inch springform pan.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and blend well. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients together and add to the butter mixture, alternating with the applesauce to create a thick batter. Add the raisins and walnuts and mix just to combine.

Transfer into a springform pan and bake about 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool. Unmold onto a round platter and dust with powdered sugar. Serve in wedges with a dollop of applesauce on the side or cinnamon-sweetened whipped cream.

cDiane Rossen Worthington is author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Holidays.” To contact her, go to www.seriouslysimple.com.

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