Recipe for Apple Butter Spice Cake

Posted December 14, 2007 12:25 p.m. EST
Updated December 16, 2007 7:21 p.m. EST

Moist, tender cake - it must be loaded with fat, right? How about a cup of fat-free apple butter instead?

Health-conscious bakers have been using applesauce to cut fat for a long time, but the delightful spiciness of apple butter adds even more depth to baked goods.

Apple butter is made by slow-cooking apples, cider, sugar and spices until the mixture caramelizes and turns a deep mahogany color.

Its thick, buttery consistency makes it a good spread for breads, a condiment or an ingredient in baking. Look for it with the jellies and jams in most markets.

Most fruit butters and purees work well for reducing fat in baking because they contain plenty of pectin, which is a natural thickener.

Like fat, pectin helps to keep baked goods tender by coating the proteins in flour and preventing them from forming tough glutens (which are desirable in bread but not in cakes or cookies).

As a rule of thumb, as much as half the fat, be it buter, oil or shortening, can be cut in some recipes by substituting fruit butters and purees. You might need to cut the sugar as well, because the fruit purees are naturally sweet.

This apple butter spice cake contains only a quarter cup of oil. The recipe also calls for fat-free buttermilk, which reacts with the baking soda to form lots of bubbles in the batter. This type of non-yeast leavening also adds to the tenderness of the cake.

The cake is simple to whip together and though it's good warm, right out of the oven, it also holds very well. Kept covered, the spice cake will stay moist for at least four or five days.

As an alternative to whipped cream, try serving the cake with a dollop of plain yogurt. The creamy tanginess is a perfect foil for the sweet spiciness of the cake.



Start to finish: 1 hour (15 minutes active)

Servings: 12

1 cup apple butter

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup molasses

1/4 cup canola oil

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 7-by-11-inch baking pan or coat it with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the apple butter, buttermilk, molasses, oil, egg and vanilla.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda and salt. Break up any lumps of brown sugar with your fingertips.

Stir the dry ingredients into the apple butter mixture just until well combined.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish, smoothing the top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake feels firm when lightly pressed in the center and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Cut into 12 squares to serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 238 calories; 6 g fat (1 g saturated); 18 mg cholesterol; 44 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 247 mg sodium.