This is the traditional birthday cake of my family.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick, in the US)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup molasses (Grandma’s unsulphured [with the yellow top], in the US)
1 cup applesauce
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsps. speculaas cookie spices
1 tsp. cinnamon AND 1 tsp. nutmeg
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs. Stir in molasses and applesauce. Sift together all dry ingredients; mix into batter. Don’t overbeat. You now have a v. wet batter. Pour into a 9×11 pan or its equivalent (I often use muffin tins, actually). Bake in a medium oven (350ºF) until done.
(Cooking time varies by pan shape — don’t be afraid to let it get quite dark on top, and keep testing it as necessary — should take about an hour in a large pan; about half an hour in muffin tins).
I’ve been meaning to try substituting treacle for the molasses, to see how it turns out; haven’t done so yet. If any non-US folks want me to ship them some molasses, just comment here and e-mail me a suitable snail-mail address. Or if you try it with treacle, let me know how it is, ‘kay?
I often don’t bother frosting this cake; it’s so tasty on its own. If you want something more elaborate, either powdered sugar sprinkled over the top or a cream-cheese / butter / icing-sugar frosting goes rather well.