An Apple A Day- Applesauce Cake

Another day, another apple. After all “an apple a day” is a pretty straightforward phrase.

Today’s apple comes in the form of a cake. An Applesauce Cake. Yesterday I made applesauce because I knew I needed it as an ingredient in this cake. Ordinary store-bought applesauce would not do for this special cake. Thinking ahead is what separates Sup! from a snail…

I know you have heard me say (write) that I am not much of a baker. Which is indeed a true statement. But I am learning to push my boundaries in this regard and baking a bit more (at the insistence of the Nicks at Imafoodblog and Macheesmo; you may even see bread here one day). But for now, my baking focus has been cakes. Simple, rustic cakes. Cakes that are neither too sweet, nor beyond my skill level. Towering layer cakes may be in my future, but let’s take that on in baby steps, shall we?

applesauce cake ingredientsThis recipe was modified (read simplified) from a recipe I found in Martha Stewart Living. It a very easy cake to like. It has a beautiful presentation in my opinion. The topping of apples and walnuts is baked right into this cake. There is no need for sugary frosting, or other decorous additions. It comes out of the oven this pretty. My kind of cake!

It has the added advantage of being “not too sweet” and could start the day as a coffee cake as easily as it could end the day after an elegant dinner.

There are many reasons to applaud this cake. It’s perfectly seasonal right now. It also has an amiable spiced quality to it. However, it’s an understated level of spice. So your first intuition is apple not cinnamon. With the addition of a bit more cinnamon, and perhaps some cloves, you would take this cake to a classically flavored spice cake. There would be nothing wrong with that. But I like this version for its restrained use of these classic autumnal flavors. This is the main difference between Martha’s version of this cake, and mine.

applesauce cake preparationBut to me,  the key to this cake’s triumph is the super moist texture. The simple addition of applesauce to the batter is how this is achieved. It makes this a nearly fool-proof cake. Even that bugaboo, over-mixing– which often produces a dense or tough cake (with over-worked glutens) won’t make this cake inedible! The recipe even calls for all-purpose flour as opposed to the “softer” cake flour.

I served mine at an outdoor birthday party in Palm Springs recently. I presented it with a little barely sweetened calvados flavored whipped cream. There were even a few oohs and awes!

So while I am busy patting myself on the back, let me end by saying; this is an easy cake to make! I’ll let the photos do the talking, because I heard somebody around here was nominated for A Food Buzz award in photography! It’s not too late to vote, click to vote.

Applesauce Cake serves 10

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/4‑cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1‑teaspoon salt
  • 1‑cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1‑teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2‑teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups applesauce 
  • 2 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4‑inch-thick wedges

applesauce cakePreheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10-inch spring-form cake pan with cooking spray; set it aside.

Make topping: Stir together 4 tablespoons butter, the dark brown sugar, oats, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Stir in walnuts; set aside.

Make batter: Sift flour, baking soda, nutmeg, 5 spice powder, and remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 3/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. Put remaining 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, the granulated sugar, and light-brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Reduce speed to low; mix in applesauce and then flour mixture. Add the flour in three additions mixing between each addition. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into oiled pan; sprinkle reserved crumb topping over batter. Lay apples on top, tucking some into batter.
Bake until a cake tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cake can be stored at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap, up to 3 days.


Greg Henry