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Author Notes: While this recipe was a popular one in her time, she made it her own by adding her favorite nuts, pecans. In my adaptation of it, I've upped its nutritional value and added more texture to it by using whole wheat flour, dried fruit, and chia seeds. I added cocoa, among other various spices, to deepen the spices. My mom was a tough critic, but I know she would have loved this. I hope you will, too—just don't forget the applesauce! —LE BEC FIN
Makes 1 cake (12 servings)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten lightly with fork
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup dried fruit (dark raisins, cranberries, and/or chopped prunes)
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, sifted
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 pinch cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups chunky tart applesauce
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. Coat a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix oil and brown sugar with a wooden spoon (or use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment). Add beaten eggs and cocoa powder, mixing thoroughly but quickly. Mix in dried fruit and pecans, making sure not to overwork the batter.
- In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, white sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne, and salt until well combined. Fold this mixture into the butter and sugar in the large mixing bowl. Add the applesauce and chia seeds. Mix until well combined.
- Pour into baking pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until top springs back when touched. During baking, if the top gets too brown, cover with foil.
- Cool completely. Run a thin bladed knife around inside edge of pan. Holding pan at two ends, bang pan flat on counter 2 to 3 times. Invert serving platter over top of cake, and—holding cake pan and platter at two edges—flip cake over onto platter. Dust cake with confectioners' sugar before serving. (The cake's flavors deepen if cake is kept air-tight for a day before serving.)