“Hey, Cory,” a familiar voice said, jolting me away from my computer screen. I turned around to find my coworker standing at the entrance to my cubicle. Holding a cup of coffee in her right hand and a slice of this cake gripped in her left. She paused with a broad grin on her face.
“Have I told you lately that I love you?” she asked.
Earlier that morning, I had placed the remaining round of bundt I baked the night before in the office kitchen. Only a single slice, barely a sixth of the cake, was removed, photographed and sampled. Nearly half of the cake was gone by 10 am. By 11 am, only crumbs remained.
“Well, I guess this one’s a winner,” I said to myself while hovering over the mess of crumbs and dots of frosting scattered across the oval paper plate.
I found this recipe in the November 2012 issue of Saveur. When I flip through my “recipes I’ll try someday” folder, I always pause when I come across the glossy torn page. Thinking I will try it someday. The weather dipped into the low 60’s after a string of rainstorms that blew through Pittsburgh – perfect summer baking weather.
The cake is moist and the frosting is rich. The addition of dried cranberries gives the sweet batter a hint of tartness sprinkled throughout. I love the toasted pecans. They seemed to bring the spices to the surface as I chewed, while giving a needed crunch to an otherwise tender cake. As for the frosting, a little definitely goes a long way. The richness is so powerful, if poured too heavy; the frosting can overwhelm the flavor.
Spice Applesauce Cake
For the Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1¾ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
For the Frosting:
1 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup confectioner's sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-inch bundt pan and dust with flour, shaking out the excess.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the applesauce and vanilla and beat to combine. The mixture may look curdled, that is fine.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Remove ¼ cup of flour mixture to a medium bowl and toss with with pecans and dried cranberries. Add the remaining flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Fold the pecans and raisins into the batter.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes, and then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, place the brown sugar, cream, and butter into a medium saucepan and bring slowly to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and then the confectioner's sugar. Pour onto the cake, allowing the frosting to run down the sides.