A couple weeks ago I got an email from fellow cookbook author, Anne Byrn, who I had worked with a couple years back when she was passing through town promoting one of her cookbooks. Anne wrote to let me know that she just released a new cookbook, American Cake, which features iconic American cakes and the history and stories that surround them. She was gracious enough to let me share one of the recipes with all of you, so I chose this 1917 Applesauce Cake.
More About the Book: Okay, let me just say that American Cake is absolutely stunning. It’s a hardcover book full of beautiful photography and fascinating stories to go along with each recipe. The recipes are arranged in chronological order from the mid 1600’s through the present and Anne discusses the changing culture of each era and how events shaped the use of ingredients and baking styles of the time. I could happily cozy up in a corner with this book and read it like a novel. It’s so much more than just recipes and is perfect for history buffs. It’s definitely going on my holiday gift guide this year! You can read more about the book and find out where to buy it here.
More About the Recipe: I chose to make the 1917 Applesauce Cake because of its simplicity. It has only a few ingredients and is easily vegan-ized for my vegan friends (just replace butter with a solid plant-based fat, like shortening or coconut oil). But most of all, this cake is not too-too sweet or rich. The warm spices make it perfect for fall or pairing with a rich cup of coffee. The small amount of fat in this cake means that it feels fairly light on the stomach and I didn’t feel weighed down afterwards. …Although I have to admit, that scoop of vanilla ice cream that I put on top made it absolutely heavenly! Something about the mix of cool and warm, vanilla and spices. Oh yes.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this recipe and I can’t recommend this book enough!
Anne Byrn’s 1917 Applesauce Cake
- 1 cup sugar $0.16
- 2 Tbsp butter (plus some for the pan) $0.31
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce $0.64
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus 1 Tbsp) $0.19
- 1 tsp baking soda $0.04
- ½ tsp cinnamon $0.05
- ½ tsp ground cloves $0.05
- ¼ tsp salt $0.02
- ¼ tsp nutmeg $0.03
- ⅔ cup raisins $0.72
- Allow the butter to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat the inside of an 8x8-inch baking dish with butter.
- In a large bowl, cream together 2 Tbsp of butter and the sugar using a hand mixer or mixing by hand with a wooden spoon. Add the applesauce and stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and nutmeg until well combined.
- Pour the flour mixture into the applesauce mixture and stir just until combined.
- In a separate small bowl, toss the raisins with about 1 Tbsp flour until they are lightly coated. Fold the flour coated raisins into the cake batter. Spread the cake batter into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, or until the the center springs back when pressed. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before slicing into 9 pieces.
Step by Step Photos
I just wanted to give you a little sneak peek inside the book. Like I said, the photography is GORGEOUS and each recipe comes with an awesome little story about the cake and how it is representative of what was going on in the country at the time. This 1917 Applesauce cake uses really basic ingredients and is considerate of ingredients that were rationed during WWI. Sounds like a perfect fit for today’s budgets, too!
Start out by greasing the inside of an 8×8 baking dish (or similar size-mine is more like 7×9). Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl, cream together 2 Tbsp butter and 1 cup sugar. I decided to use a wooden spoon so I could feel like I was making this in 1917. Just kidding! The beaters for my hand mixer were dirty and I was too lazy to go wash them. Jokes on me though, because this definitely took more effort with a wooden spoon than it would have taken to wash the beaters. SMH.
Stir in one cup of unsweetened applesauce.
In a separate bowl, stir together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg until well combined.
Combine the applesauce mixture with the flour mixture…
And stir just until combined.
In a separate bowl, toss 3/4 cup raisins with about 1 Tbsp flour until they’re coated. There is a note in the book about how coating the raisins in this manner helps them stay suspended in the batter instead of sinking to the bottom. Cool! Once coated, fold the raisins into the cake batter.
Spread the cake batter into the prepared dish.
Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the center springs back when you press on it lightly. You can also give it the toothpick test and insert a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If it comes out coated with wet cake batter, then it needs a few more minutes.
Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes, then slice into 9 pieces and serve. I accidentally sliced mine into 12 pieces and they were a tad small, so I would suggest nine.
You can give it a light dusting of powdered sugar, or go big and add a big ol’ scoop of ice cream.
What? I had to eat it before the ice cream melted. ;D