Applesauce Cake

Minnie McCormick brought this applesauce cake from Dover-Foxcroft to the Bangor Grange last Saturday when she and others others attended a celebration of my new cookbook, Maine Home Cooking. She also brought the recipe, as did others with their potluck offerings, and as the weeks unfold here so will some of the dishes we all shared.

I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it was for me to meet some of you readers: finally – faces to go with the names in your letters and emails. There will be more opportunities this fall for us to meet up. (For example, I will be at the Harvest Festival at the Bangor Auditorium on Sunday, November 11 and in Machias at the library on Nov. 10. More information about all that later.)

Back to applesauce cake. Admittedly there are not as many apples on trees around here as I would like to see. I suppose by now you all have discovered that this is a poor year for the fruit, weird early spring weather messed up the natural cycle of blossoming and fruit set. Some trees escaped, but many more did not. When you do finally lay your hands on some apples, this is a lovely cake to make out of the applesauce.

The directions suggest that you first make thick, unsweetened applesauce. If you use a pre-made applesauce, make sure it doesn’t have sugar in it. You will need one-and-a-half cups. There is a fair amount of spice in the cake, and it stands up well to the cream cheese frosting, one of my favorite frostings ever. Minnie says that you can use any frosting recipe you like, and sometimes she just dusts the top of the cake with confectioner’s sugar.

Minnie reports that this recipe makes a nine-by-thirteen cake, and that she uses it to make five small loaves to freeze as Christmas gifts. Don’t you wish you were on her gift list?

Applesauce Cake

2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
½ cup soft shortening or butter
2 cups of sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ cups applesauce
½ cup water
½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a nine by thirteen inch pan (or two eight inch square pans.) Sift together the dry ingredients. Cream together the butter and sugar, beat in the egg, and then the applesauce. Add the dry ingredients and mix to make a smooth batter. Fold in the nuts and raisins if wished. Bake the nine-by-thirteen for forty-five or fifty minutes, (square pans for thirty-five to forty minutes) or until the center is firm and a tester inserted comes out clean.

Makes one nine-by-thirteen inch cake

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon butter, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all the ingredients together until smooth. Thin with milk if necessary to make a spreading consistency.

Makes enough frosting for one nine-by-thirteen cake.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.