Friday, January 7, 2011
Easy Spice Cake.
I'm a very lucky girl - I received quite a few cookbooks for Christmas. I read cookbooks like novels which is probably why this is the first recipe I've made from one of the cookbooks I've had for almost 2 weeks now. You see, it took me all of last week just to get through Nigella Kitchen, let alone cook from it! Nigella's books tend to be on the wordy side though, so reading through the other books hasn't taken quite as long. The second cookbook I read was Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri, a name most bakers should be familiar with by now. My brother and sister-in-law gave it to me and joked after I opened it, saying "We'd never think of buying a light dessert book for anyone who didn't ask for one, Beth!"
I'm so glad I asked for it! Even though this is the first recipe I've baked from it so far, I can't tell you how delicious this cake is. It's a lighter (both figuratively and literally speaking) version of gingerbread - spicy, cakey and absolutely delicious, yet so light and fluffy at the same time. The only changes I made to this were to increase the salt, spices (as per my usual) and I actually substituted a handful of dried, chopped cranberries for the 2/3 cup chopped pecans called for. Although Malgieri says he prefers to use nuts as opposed to raisins because they "provide extra flavor and a bit of crunch," I didn't want crunch, I wanted comforting, soft, tart dried fruit. Feel free to use any nut or dried fruit you'd like, I can't say there would be a bad addition.
Easy Spice Cake
Adapted from Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup toasted nuts, chopped or any chopped dried fruit you'd like
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a 9x13" pan with baking spray and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well mixed, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting for the creamed mixture to lighten in color before adding the second one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the applesauce, another 1/3 of the flour, the second and last 1/2 of the applesauce, and ending with the rest of the flour mixture. Stir in the nuts or dried fruit by hand, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 35-50 minutes, (the recipe actually said 40 to 50 but I happened to check mine at 35 minutes to find it was definitely done) until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling completely before cutting into small squares. (For the calorie counters out there besides me - these are about 108 calories per piece if you cut 24 squares - but that's with nuts.)