Friday, 2 November 2012

Applesauce Spice Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Applesauce is a big deal at our house.  I make a couple of hundred jars of it every year and we use every single one before it’s time to make more.  I love to cook with it.

Applesauce spice cake is a big deal at our house too.  Because it calls for a good quantity of walnuts, we tend to view it as a seasonal treat; something to be enjoyed when the walnut tree beside our building yields up its treasures in October. 

My husband patiently gathers the walnuts, removes their green husks, carefully opens the shells (trying to keep them intact for me to use in craft projects), pries loose the walnut meat, and toasts the walnuts in the oven.  As soon as he has prepared enough walnuts to make an applesauce cake, he leaves the notebook that contains the recipe smack in the middle of the kitchen counter, where I can’t help but find it. 

Nothing like a subtle hint, right?  ;)

I get it, though:  Applesauce spice cake is one of those old fashioned, comforting desserts that speaks of fall.  It begs to be enjoyed with a cup of tea on a cool, rainy evening.  It’s meant to be shared with friends.

To make applesauce spice cake you’ll need:

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups applesauce (I use my homemade applesauce which is made with the apple peels included – hence the darker colour – but any unsweetened applesauce will work)
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Begin by soaking the raisins.  Pour boiling water over them and allow them to sit until they’ve cooled to room temperature. 

Drain the raisins before beginning to make the cake batter, and set them aside in a covered bowl.  (I save the raisin soaking liquid in the fridge and use it later, in other baking recipes, to add a little extra flavour.)

Cream the butter and sugar together. 

Beat the eggs.  Add them to the butter and sugar mixture together with the applesauce.  Mix until well combined.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. 

When the dry ingredients are well combined, add in the raisins and walnuts and stir them gently through the mixture until they are coated with flour.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir them together to make a stiff batter.

Turn the batter out into a buttered or oiled 9 x 13 inch pan and spread it into an even layer.

Bake the cake in the middle rack of a 350F oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the oven comes out clean. 

Cool the cake in its pan.

When the cake is completely cooled, make the frosting.

Cream together 4 ounces of butter and 4 ounces of cream cheese. 

When the butter/cream cheese mixture is well combined and very soft, begin adding in icing sugar (also called powdered sugar or confectioners’ sugar) – about a cup at a time – beating well after each addition.  

(I use about 3/4 of a pound of icing sugar in my frosting but you should taste yours as you go along and decide upon a sweetness that works for you.)

The frosting may get quite stiff as you mix in the sugar.  I usually add in a little milk along the way to thin it out, but rarely more than a couple of tablespoonfuls. 

When the icing has reached the consistency and sweetness you prefer, mix in 1 teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract.

This is not a fancy cake so I usually frost it and serve it right in the pan in was baked in.

Simple, right? 

But tasty. 

Enjoy.  I’ll bet it becomes a fall favourite at your house too.

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