Heritage Recipe: Aunt Eda’s Applesauce Cake

It’s raining again, so instead of going to the garden, I decided to clean and sort the freezer.  Before I start adding much this year, I want to be sure I know what I have left from last year.  I found a container of applesauce that I had frozen last fall—October 24th, the label read—“Cortland apples”.

Rainy day = comfort food.

Comfort food + applesauce = Aunt Eda’s Applesauce Cake!Aunt Eda's Applesauce Cake

Every so often, I like to turn to the family recipe collection my mom and I put together from last year’s reunion.  My mother had submitted the applesauce cake recipe; I remember it from days on the farm when I was small—she remembers it from days on her aunt’s farm.

It’s one of those recipes set down by cooks who measured by dashes and splashes; farm wives who knew the temperature of an oven by “feel” and used what ingredients they had on hand to feed their hungry families.

Here’s the recipe, exactly as written down for my mother:


1 cup sugar                                                            1 ½ cups applesauce

1 egg                                                                        1 tsp. cinnamon

½ cup butter                                                            ½ tsp. cloves

1-cup raisins                                                            2 tsp. soda dissolved in applesauce

2 cups flour

lemon extract

Bake in a moderate oven.


As you can see, there are a few things missing—things we take for granted with our “modern” recipes:

Do I mix everything together all at once?

How much lemon extract?

Moderate oven?

How long do I bake it?

What size pan?

I could have asked my mom—and I did ask her what size pan she used, but her answer wasn’t all that satisfactory—she said it depended how thick I wanted the cake to be!

So, I set the ingredients out and mixed things up the way I usually do. Aunt Eda's Applesauce Cake

First, I beat the sugar and butter together and added the egg.

I stirred the soda into the applesauce – and watched it rise to the top of the measuring cup!Aunt Eda's Applesauce Cake

Then, I mixed the dry ingredients together, and added them to the creamed mixture in the bowl.  I stirred in the applesauce and added ¼ teaspoon lemon extract. (That turned out to be just about right.)

I measured the raisins, and of course, didn’t have quite enough, so I finished filling the cup with dried cranberries, and folded them into the batter. Aunt Eda's Applesauce Cake

I have a great 9 x 9 pan that I use for coffee cakes – it’s a bit deeper than most pans.Aunt Eda's Applesauce Cake  I poured the batter into this pan, and put it into a preheated 350-degree oven.  Moderate = 350, to me.

I baked the cake for 30 minutes, and tested it with a toothpick.  The center was still unbaked, so I stuck the cake back in the oven for another 15 minutes, tested again and it was done.  (Note to self: Make note on recipe to bake at 350 for 45 minutes.)

By this time, my husband had followed his nose into the kitchen.  The combination of applesauce, spices and dried fruits does make a kitchen smell pretty fine!  As soon as it had cooled enough to cut, he tested the cake and pronounced it good….although he said that just one piece probably wasn’t enough to tell for sure!Aunt Eda's Applesauce Cake

It’s an easy cake to make, and tastes best warm from the oven with a cold glass of milk. If there’s some left, it does store well.

Now—what can I do with the bag of cranberries and package of last year’s rhubarb that I also found while sorting the freezer?


This post is part of :

“Tasty Traditions”, Thursday Favorite Things from Katherine’s Corner,  The HomeAcre Hop, Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, and Create It Thursday.
1840 Farm

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