Appalachian Whiskey Applesauce Cake

Guest post by Jeannette of Everybody Likes Sandwiches

Fall is apple season and because apples are in my top 3 of Best Fruit Ever list, I always have plenty on hand. My apple buying spree starts in August when early Mac Spurs, Gravensteins, Kings, Wealthy and Sunrise varieties start showing up on my farmer's mailing list. And throughout the fall, I pick up Pink Ladies and Granny Smiths from my local market to add more variety. I am a little apple obsessed.

But sometimes there's an apple that is mealy from the get go. It doesn't have the flavour, crunch or excitement that other apples have. Or I've forgotten about an apple or two and they are now past their eating out-of-hand prime. I let these second-best apples languish in my cooler and wait. I make applesauce with these rejects and if I have a good tart apple or two, I'll add that into into my sauce to help balance out the flavour.

And when you have applesauce, why not make applesauce cake? Sure you could use store-bought applesauce to make this, but homemade apple sauce is a cinch. And I've included the super simple "recipe" in the headnotes below.

What takes this cake extra up a notch is booze. After the cake comes out of the oven, whiskey (or bourbon) gets slowly poured over top. It's a cake packed with nuts and dried fruit and lightly soaked with your favourite whiskey. I used a light hand because I didn't want too much of a knock-down booze fest in my cake, but when I make this again, I'll be adding the full amount. If you're alcohol-adverse, leave it out, it will still be a moist, flavourful and delicious cake.

This is the perfect dessert to whip up when company comes over for a visit. It tastes like autumn - spicy and deep - and rustic enough to grace your harvest table. If you have vanilla ice cream, add a scoop alongside for a perfect match.

Appalachian Whiskey Applesauce Cake
(Recipe adapted from A Sweet Spoonful  who adapted it from the cookbook WINTERSWEET: Seasonal Desserts to Warm the Home by Tammy Donroe Inman)

You don't need to make applesauce from scratch to make this cake. But why not when it's so easy. 3 apples should make about a cup of applesauce, but use a few more because extra applesauce is a nice thing to have around. Peel and dice your apples and place them in a sauce pot with a little bit of water - just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover pot with a lid and cook over medium heat until the apples turn soft. Add more water if necessary & a touch of cinnamon too (if you like). You should be apple to break apart the apples by giving the mix a light stir with a fork. Let cool before proceeding with the cake recipe.

Now for the cake, use whatever kind of dried fruit and nuts speak to you best (or whatever you've got hanging around your cupboard). Walnuts would be good here. I added just a little bit of bourbon to the finished cake - the original recipe calls for 1/3 cup, but I only used about 4-5 teaspoons. The cake could have used more. If you don't want to use any booze, just skip it, the cake will be plenty moist without it.

Recipe adapted from A Sweet Spoonful

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature + more for greasing the pan
3/4 cup brown sugar (unpacked)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or a mix of half whole wheat or spelt & all purpose)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup currants
1/4 c dried cherries
3 tablespoons candied ginger, finely diced (optional)
1 1/4 cup toasted, chopped nuts (I used a mix of hazelnuts, pecans & almonds)
4 teaspoons - 1/3 c bourbon or whiskey

Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a 9" round cake pan or a regular sized loaf pan and then dust with flour, shaking off any excess. Set aside.

If you need to toast your nuts, do that first (8 minutes in the oven should do it). Let cool & roughly chop.

Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time until well mixed, scraping down the sides as necessary. Stir in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt together, whisking with a fork until well blended.

Add half of the flour mix to the wet batter along with half of the applesauce and mix well. Repeat by adding in the rest of the dry mix and applesauce and stirring until just combined. Gently fold in the dry fruit and nuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes for a 9" cake and 55 minutes for a loaf pan, or until the cake is a dark golden brown and a bamboo skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Slowly pour spoonfuls of bourbon over the cake. Let cool and remove cake from pan and serve. A scoop of vanilla ice cream makes a nice pairing.

Follow Jeannette online:

Everybody Likes Sandwiches
The Beautiful Project

Jan Halvarson


Coco Cake Land said...

mmm i'd happily have a slice of that cake right now, jeannette! sounds and looks delicious - and bourbon-y!

ahh, best fruit ever list - now you're making me devise my own list in my head! xo

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for this recipe! I made the cake this weekend and it was delicious! We also added a bit of whiskey to the batter, and it was so moist =)

kickpleat said...

Bourbon-y is my favorite word, Lyndsay! Thanks :)

Janelle, so glad you enjoyed the cake & I love that you added some whiskey to the batter with no ill effects :)