This is a moist and mildly spicy gingerbread with the taste of cider and applesauce. Served plain, it makes a marvelous snack. When offered along with a spoonful of the cider cream, it would be a welcome dessert after a hearty meal.
Apple Cider Gingerbread with Apple Cider Whipped Cream
Taken from A is for Apple: More Than 200 Recipes for Eating, Munching and Cooking with America's Favorite Fruit, by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and Greg Patent (1999 Broadway Books).
6 cups of apple cider
2 cups (9 ounces) of unbleached all-purpose flour (spooned into the cup and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
2/3 cup of firmly-packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1 large egg
1/2 cup of smooth unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract or vanillin
1. Place the cider in a large heavy saucepan and set the pan over medium-high heat. Boil the cider, swirling the pan occasionally, until it has reduced to 3/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Watch carefully as the cider thickens toward the end of cooking, to prevent burning. (The cider is ready when you can see large bubbles that rise almost to the top of the pan.) Remove the pan from the heat. When the bubbles have subsided, measure the cider. (You can do this hours or days ahead. When cool, cover and refrigerate.)
2. Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and 8-inch square baking pan or coat with cooking spray.
3. Sift the flour with the baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and allspice; set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and warm melted butter until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and whisk it in until smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the cooled boiled cider. Add the applesauce and milk and whisk to combined well. Add the dry ingredients and stir gently with the whisk only until the batter is smooth and the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the gingerbread is golden brown, the top springs back when pressed lightly in the center, and the cake just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool the gingerbread in its pan for 15 minutes, then cover it with a cooling rack and invert the two. Remove the pan and cover the gingerbread with another rack. Reinvert and allow the gingerbread to cool right side up. When warm or completely cool, dust the top of the gingerbread with confectioners' sugar.
6. To make the cider cream, in a medium bowl, beat the cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of cooled boiled cider and the vanilla or vanillin until only barely thickened. Taste and add confectioners' sugar if necessary. Continue beating the cream until it holds a soft shape. Spoon a dollop of cream alongside each serving of gingerbread.
c. Greg Patent