My friends and I had a discussion about what sort of cooks we are, whether we cook and bake out of necessity and don’t really enjoy it or if we do it because we enjoy the cooking process and love food for food’s sake. I happen to fall in the latter group and sometimes cook for the hell of cooking, which means I also occasionally have food that I don’t actually eat.
Like my homemade applesauce. I don’t actually eat a lot of applesauce, so I was starting to wonder how best to use the quart I’d made. Roast pork? Meh, not in the mood. Latkes? Way too much work. How about applesauce cake? YES!
I’d seen recipes that resulted in tender fluffy cakes, which I didn’t want. I wanted a dense moist cake that actually tasted of apples and not just of cinnamon, and I wanted it to be sturdy enough to easily slice through but light enough to serve at a tea party. Not that I have a lot of tea parties but still. Oh, and I wanted a streusel topping!
I was really intrigued by the recipes that called for dried apples. Apparently this really brings out the apple-y flavor and I was eager to try it out. Why not?
First I brought some apple cider and rum to a simmer, dropped in chopped dried apples, and let it simmer for a few minutes so the apples could rehydrate and plump up. In the meantime, I got the other ingredients together and got out the mini parchment loaf pans.
Speaking of which, mini parchment loaf pans are awesome. With no need to grease or line a traditional loaf pan, these stand up by themselves and are fab for giving away baked goods with little fuss. I bought mine at the Broadway Panhandler here in NYC but they can also be purchased on Amazon and possibly at the NY Cake and Baking Supply Company. I think the ones I bought are made by Regency and measure 6″x2.5″x2″. And no, I am not being paid to say all these nice things by any of these companies! I just really believe in supporting local businesses whenever I can, and both the Broadway Panhandler and NY Cake and Baking Supply Co are local businesses.
*gets off soapbox*
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know that I try to healthify my food whenever I can (or when I remember to!); I threw a handful of ground flax seeds into the cake batter for the added fiber and decided to also toss in some dried cranberries for an antioxidant boost.
Cranberry Applesauce Cake
1 cup chopped dried apples
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup rum or brandy
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
1 cup applesauce
1 egg, room temperature, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
8 TBS butter (1 stick), melted
1 TBS vanilla
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 TBS dark brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 tsp flour
1 TBS ground flax seeds (optional)
3 TBS softened butter
Heat oven to 325 F and move the oven rack to the center position.
If you’re not using mini loaf pans, you can make this in an 8-inch square baking pan. Spray the pan with cooking spray.
Bring the dried apples, cider, and rum to a simmer and cook until the liquid is gone, 20-30 minutes. Let rehydrated apples cool to room temperature. Set aside 1/4 of these apples.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, flax seeds and baking soda. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; whisk in the egg and salt until everything is very well combined. Slowly add the butter.
In a food processor, pulse the reserved 1/4 rehydrated apples three times; you want this to be a bit chunky. Scrape it out and process the remaining 3/4 apples with the applesauce until smooth. Add to the sugar-egg mixture as well as the vanilla and whisk to combine. Stir in the chunky apples and dried cranberries. Fold in the flour mixture until it’s just combined and no streaks of flour remain.
In a small bowl, toss together the dark brown sugar, nuts, oats, flour and flax seed. Work the softened butter into the mixture until it’s crumbly.
Pour or ladle the batter into your prepared pan/s and sprinkle with streusel. Bake for about 30-40 minutes OR until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Allow the cake to cool thoroughly. Run a knife along the edges to loosen and then invert onto a cutting board. Serve with cinnamon or plain whipped cream.