The Clara Project: Old-fashioned applesauce cake.

On a crisp fall day, here’s what you want: Something warm and comforting, fragrant with apples and spices. Hot spiced cider, perhaps. Or, maybe … cake.

This old-fashioned applesauce cake recipe was a delight to find in my collection of vintage recipes (read more about The Clara Project and see the other old-fashioned recipes we’ve explored together)—perfectly in sync with the season.

It’s much like a quick bread, baked in a loaf pan; alternately, you could spread the batter in a square cake pan and bake it (start with 40 minutes and test to see when it’s done), then dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar for a nice effect if you want something more dessert-ish.

Great for the Thanksgiving holiday? You bet: this applesauce cake would make a delicious breakfast treat with a cup of coffee, or an unexpected but still seasonally flavored addition to your dessert table.

recipe for old-fashioned applesauce cake

old-fashioned applesauce cake recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard loaf pan or a square (8 or 9 inch) cake pan. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in the applesauce. Into a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to combine. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until smooth. Toss the raisins with a pinch of flour (this helps them distribute evenly in the cake) and add them to the batter and stir gently to combine. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40 minutes (cake pan) or 50–60 minutes (loaf pan). Remove from oven and cool; run a spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake and carefully ease the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely before slicing. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

recipe for old-fashioned apple sauce cake

About The Clara Project
Once a week, I’ll make and share a recipe from a collection of vintage recipe cards that were written in the 1930s by Clara Shenefelt. See all the Clara Project recipes.

3 thoughts on “The Clara Project: Old-fashioned applesauce cake.

  1. Hi Bryn! Um, yum. This cake sounds perfect for Thanksgiving morning. However, a while back I made sweetened and highly seasoned applesauce, and would like to use this in the cake. Should I eliminate the sugar or cut back? And what about the spices? Thanks a bunch. I love your recipes!

    • Hi, Stephanie! Thanks so much for the comment and question. (Full disclosure: I just had a piece of this applesauce cake for a snack, and it gets better with time just sitting on a plate under some plastic wrap.)

      So, to your question: Yes, I do think you could use your homemade spiced applesauce. Great idea! I would reduce the amount of sugar in the cake recipe depending on how sweet your sauce is — if it’s pretty tart, then maybe go 3/4 cup of sugar, or you could even drop to 1/2 cup. If your sauce is super sweet, then you could omit the sugar in the cake recipe; sugar doesn’t play a role in the cake’s texture. If you omit the sugar totally, then I would suggest the following: cream the butter until it’s fluffy, then mix in about 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the applesauce, then the rest of the flour. (In other words, the butter and applesauce might not combine well on their own.)

      The spice flavor in the cake recipe that really stands out to me is the ground clove; I had a just-purchased tin of it, and it’s super flavorful. Again, depending on the flavor of your homemade applesauce, you could reduce the cinnamon and cloves by up to half.

      Happy baking, and enjoy this on Thanksgiving!

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