Mother's Day

My Mom's and My Applesauce Cake

April 23, 2015
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)
Ingredients
  • 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
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Coat a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)

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I am always on the lookout for innovative recipes, which is why I am just ga-ga over my recently- discovered Food52 with its amazingly innovative and talented contributors. My particular eating passions are Japanese, Indian, Mexican; with Italian and French following close behind. Turkish/Arabic/Mediterranean cuisines are my latest culinary fascination. My desert island ABCs are actually 4 Cs: citrus, cumin, cilantro, and cardamom. I am also finally indulging in learning about food history; it gives me no end of delight to learn how and when globe artichokes came to the U.S., and how and when Jerusalem artichokes went from North America to Europe. And that the Americas enabled other cuisines to become glorious. I mean where would those countries be without: Corn, Tomatoes, Chiles,Peanuts, Dried Beans, Pecans, Jerusalem Artichokes??! While I am an omnivore, I am, perhaps more than anything, fascinated by the the world of carbohydrates, particularly the innovative diversity of uses for beans, lentils and grains in South Indian and other cuisines. Baking gives me much pleasure, and of all the things I wish would change in American food, it is that we would develop an appreciation for sweet foods that are not cloyingly sweet, and that contain more multigrains. (Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a country of great bakeries instead of the drek that we have in the U.S.?!) I am so excited by the level of sophistication that I see on Food52 and hope to contribute recipes that will inspire you like yours do me. I would like to ask a favor of all who do try a recipe of mine > Would you plse write me and tell me truthfully how it worked for you and/or how you think it would be better? I know many times we feel that we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, but. i really do want your honest feedback because it can only help me improve the recipe.Thanks so much.