My all-time favorite spice cake is made with applesauce. It's hard to beat apples for flavor and texture. Applesauce is also easy to find and already prepped to ladle into the batter. When I was a kid the bakery on the corner sold a killer "applesauce cake" that was just about perfect. I've been trying to duplicate the recipe ever since. The version below comes close, and it makes for a great autumn treat or holiday gift. I make it in a loaf pan, and serve it toasted or warm from the oven. It's a holiday indulgence I look forward to every year.
Spice Cake Recipe
- 2 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 2 tsp. fresh baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 8 tbsp. (1 stick) softened butter
- 1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs plus one egg yolk
- 1 1/2 cups applesauce (prefer unsweetened)
- 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ginger (I use finely grated ginger, but you can use 1/4 tsp. ground ginger instead)
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg (fresh ground is best)
- pinch ground cloves (1/8 tsp. should do it)
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1/3 cup dried cherries or golden raisins (optional)
Blend flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, cream butter, sugar, honey and vanilla. Set aside.
In a third bowl, combine eggs and applesauce. Whisk to incorporate.
Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture slowly. I try to combine about a half-cup at a time to make mixing easier.
Add the flour mixture to the eggs and butter in half-cup increments until fully blended.
Pour batter into a greased and floured pan. You can use a loaf pan, cake pan or cupcake tins. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for about 45 minutes. (For cupcakes, reduce cooking time to about 20 minutes.)
When done, the edges of the cake should pull away from the pan a little, and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.
I usually don't bother with frosting, but when I do, I prefer a homemade cream cheese frosting. With an apple sauce cake, the addition of a little cheesy bite seems only fitting.