Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Applesauce Spice Cake

I'm a firm believer that just because it's no longer fall doesn't mean you can't have all the autumnal tastiness you crave. At least I crave it. If I could eat apples, lemons and cranberries (or some delectable item containing said ingredients) every day, I think I could be perfectly satisfied for the rest of my life. I might throw a bit of chocolate in there for good measure, but since Christmas I've been feeling rather over-chocolated (hard to believe, I know). So apples it is.

This cake is perfectly, dare I say it, moist. If still slightly warm, it might seem crumbly, but once given a chance to cool off, it has the ideal cake-consistency. And it's sweet and flavorful, but not overpowering. Yum.

We chose to make a layer cake and use an orange cream frosting (I shudder with delight just thinking of it. That frosting has got to be some of the best I've ever tasted), though I think this cake is quite good enough to be served with a simple dusting of powdered sugar. You decide which you prefer.

Applesauce Spice Cake
Recipe from The All-American Dessert Book by Nancy Baggett
Pictures by Caroline

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sweetened applesauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9 x 13 inch pan or two 8 1/2 or 9 inch round cake pans.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the butter, sugars, and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is very well blended and lightened, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition.
  4. Add half the flour mixture, beating just until smoothly incorporated. Add half the applesauce and beat for about 30 seconds longer. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until smoothly incorporated; beat in the remaining applesauce just until evenly incorporated.
  5. Turn out the batter into the pan(s), spreading evenly to the edges. Bake 30-40 minutes for a 9 x 13 inch pan, 20- 30 minutes for round cake pans. Bake until the top of the cake is browned and springs back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool completely. If making a layer cake, hold a rack flat against a pan and invert the layers onto racks. Cool completely, then frost and serve.
Orange Cream Cheese-Butter Frosting
from The All-American Dessert Book

11 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened and cut into chunks
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
3 - 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
3 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 1/4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice*
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons water, if needed
  1. In a large bowl with a mixer on low, then medium, beat together the cream cheese, butter, 3 cups powdered sugar, orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla unti lwell blended and completely free of lumps. If the frosting seems to thin to spread, beat in up to 3/4 cup more powdered sugar. If the frosting is very stiff, add a teaspoon or two of water to think it to a spreadable, but still firm consisteency. Frost the cooled cake immediately.
*Because we're gluttons for orange, we felt the frosting could have used just a bit more orange flavor. Next time I think I'll try half lemon juice, half orange.

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