Friday, January 17, 2014

Applesauce Spice Cake

This is a good time to bake an old-fashioned applesauce cake.  As I was shuffling through my huge stash of recipes, this particular one jumped out at me.  I needed to use up some applesauce and this struck me as something I could do in just a few minutes with minimal muss or fuss.

The texture of cake is a delicate balance between the ratios of flour, butter or oil, sugar and eggs.  Omit the flour and you have a very soft texture.  Replace some or all of the flour with ground nuts and you have a dense and chewy bite.  Reduce the sugar or the eggs and you impact the tenderness.  Butter also adds tenderness, flavor and a defined crumb.  Oil will produce more moisture and a more open crumb.  And leaveners, such as baking powder, baking soda and whipped egg whites, play an important role in texture as well.  Introducing applesauce adds more moisture and is often used as a substitution for all or part of the oil or butter.

This cake manages to achieve a beautifully tender crumb using a combination of melted butter, oil and applesauce, a somewhat delicate task.  It's so soft it practically melts in your mouth.  And the ambitious blend of spices is intriguing and delicious.  It's exactly the sort of wonderful bite of cake you'd love with a steaming hot beverage on a lazy late morning or afternoon as the clouds drift overhead.  If you're a fan of easy and casual cakes, I'd say this is definitely one for your pastry recipe collection.

Bench notes:
- This recipe is from Food & Wine magazine and it's for a large bundt cake.  I cut the recipe in half and made an 8" cake.  Follow the link for the full bundt version.
- I scaled back the applesauce a bit to 6 oz (about 3/4 cup) because I wanted to make sure the cake had a defined crumb.  Sometimes a lot of applesauce in cake formulations can create a texture that is slightly gummy.
- The recipe calls for the addition of semisweet chocolate chips but I left them out.  If you prefer, fold 6 oz (1 cup) into the batter at the end of the mixing process.
- The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days.  As with most pastries that have a lot of spice, it tastes even better the next day.

Applesauce Spice Cake
adapted from Applesauce-Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake in Food & Wine magazine
Serves 8

1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup (2 oz) vegetable oil
2 oz (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
1 egg
1 cup unsweetened applesauce [I used 6 oz]

powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease an 8" cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

In another bowl, whisk the oil, melted butter and sugar until blended.  Add the egg and applesauce and combine thoroughly.  Whisk in the flour mixture just until there are no streaks of flour.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 28 - 29 minutes.  Remove the cake to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Invert the cake and gently remove the parchment.  Invert again and cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar.


Sue/the view from great island said...

This cake is right up my alley, so simple...I love the warm color, and cardamom makes everything better!

Beth said...

I love recipes that use up applesauce. My go to recipe is a wonderful applesauce pie from Williams I have this one to look forward to. I also appreciate recipes that make smaller cakes. Less temptation.

pastry studio said...

Hello, Sue. I'm with you on the cardamom!

Beth, an applesauce pie? That sounds delicious! I'll have to check that out. Sort of reminds me of a proper French Apple Tart, which I love.

Audrey said...

I just did something that I should do a lot more often ... found your Friday recipe and made it on Saturday morning. This cake is lovely and all you said it would be. I know I'm going to make it often, so thank you for scaling the recipe down, too. :) {Though I think I will try it at least once with the chocolate chips!}

pastry studio said...

Thank you for your feedback, Audrey. You really can't miss with this cake - easy and delicious. Please let me know if you try it with chocolate chips!

harishita said...

wow! this cake looks wonderful! i have an issue - i cant eat eggs. can i replace the lone egg with a bit more applesauce..? i would love to make this gorgeous cake..

pastry studio said...

harishita, this definitely is a really great cake! But I have to confess I don't know much about substituting for eggs. What I've read over the years is that in cakes, you can increase the applesauce by 1/4 cup for each egg. So what I might suggest if you want to try it is to use the full 1 cup of applesauce (recall that I only used 6 oz for mine) and leave all other ingredients the same. I hesitate to recommend anything I haven't tried myself but I think based on what I've read that should be a viable solution.

I hope this works for you because this is such a super delicious cake. Let me know if you decide to give it a go!