I love to bake spice-heavy quick breads and cakes during the fall and winter, as the heat of all those spices seems particularly satisfying when it is cold outside. Ginger is a particular favorite of mine and this Applesauce Gingerbread is just packed with it! It’s an easy loaf to throw together for any occasion, such as an afternoon snack for yourself or a weekend brunch with friends.
The loaf is made with plenty of spices. Ground ginger is the main feature, but cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and vanilla are all also in the mix. Although gingerbread usually conjures up images of baked goods that are loaded with molasses, this one only has a touch of molasses. Molasses is a great ingredient because it not only contributes a lot of flavor to recipes, but it helps them to retain moisture and stay fresh for longer. In thi recipe, I opted to use molasses a bit more sparingly to ensure that the ginger – not just the molasses – was the standout flavor here.
To replace the moisture-preserving qualities of extra molasses, I used plain applesauce. Applesauce brings in lots of moisture with a very mild flavor, one that really supports all the spices in this loaf. Unsweetened applesauce is the best choice for this recipe and I used one without any chunks of apple in it. If you want to feature apple more prominently in your bake, feel free to use a chunkier applesauce in your version!
The gingerbread is also studded with chunks of candied ginger. Candied ginger is sweet, spicy and sold at most specialty food stores (along with many sellers on Amazon and other online retailers). You can buy it in small, chocolate chip-sized chunks or much larger pieces. If you have larger pieces, coarsely chop them so that none are larger than an almond to ensure that you have a good distribution in your bread.
Allow the loaf to cool completely before slicing and serving. Stored in an airtight container, the loaf will be good for several days after baking.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain, unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger
1 tbsp coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, eggs, vegetable oil, molasses and vanilla. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the applesauce. Stir in remaining flour mixture and mix until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Stir in coarsely chopped, candied ginger. Pour into prepared pan and top with coarse sugar.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 1 loaf; serves 10.