Applesauce Spice Cake

July marks the beginning of the apple season here. The brightly striped Gravensteins are the first to ripen. And when they do, we spend weeks making homemade applesauce and apple butter. As our freezer is now packed with applesauce, and there’s more to come, I thought I would experiment with a recipe in the newly published, practical cookbook Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis. The applesauce spice cake came out as good as promised – super moist and spicy. Although the recipe is billed as a “cake”, it is similar to banana, zucchini and pumpkin breads; it would make a great muffin as well.

Applesauce Spice Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt diluted a bit with milk, or 1/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Method

1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour an 8-in square baking pan, set aside.

2 Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

3 In an electric mixer, beat butter until light, add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Add the vanilla and the applesauce and beat until smooth.

4 Mix in half of the dry ingredients. Just before they are blended, add the thinned yogurt (or buttermilk). Then mix in the rest of the dry ingredients and the nuts and raisins, until completely incorporated. Do not over-mix.

5 Pour out the batter into your prepared cake pan. Place in the middle rack of the 375°F oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until done. The cake should spring back to the touch, and a toothpick or thin skewer should come out clean after being inserted in various spots in the middle of the cake. Remove the cake from the oven. Let cool for 15 minutes. Then invert to cool completely on a rack.

Recipe adapted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis.

23 Comments

  1. Liz

    Sounds yummy, I’ll have to give it a shot. I have a slightly different version that I like to make too – no raisins or nuts in it & slightly different proportions (plus add 2 T of cocoa in the batter and a topping of chocolate chips, brown sugar and nuts)- but the concept is the same. Served warm with ice cream, it is the best. It is my husband’s favorite dessert. Full recipe won’t fit in the comment section though! ;)

  2. Kari

    My mother makes something similar to this at Christmas time and makes a rum butter sauce to put over it. Makes the kitchen smell wonderful.

  3. Marie

    I love it! I made the recipe into muffins, and they are the perfect snack. Gail, I baked mine for 25 minutes at 400, and they came out perfectly moist and golden brown. There was enough batter for 12 muffins an about a 1″ high “cake” in the bottom of a loaf pan. Yum, and thanks!

  4. Agota

    I made this cake last week. It was wonderful. Not too sweet, just right. I baked it in a loaf pan, and it took about 50 minutes. Thank you so much for this lovely recipe, dear Elise!

  5. Zsuzsi

    I made this cake today, but unfortunately the bottom got black (yeah, I know what it means :)), till the time the upper part was done. I checked it often, even turned the oven temp down at the end. Maybe because of the applesauce, the cake is done even when still sticks on the needle? I made double amount, coz the baking-pans around here are much bigger. Can that be the problem?
    Thanks for the advises!

    Sounds like the pan was too close to the heat source. Also check the oven temp. The temp guidelines I give are in Fahrenheit, not Celsius. If you live anywhere other than America, you will need to convert the temp. ~Elise

  6. SINA KLEIN

    Just wondered how well it would work in loaf pans? My husband remembers an applesauce cake done in loaf pans and then frosted with buttercream type frosting after they cooled.

  7. Jenny

    I made this today and it was delicious and moist. It took about 50 minutes. I forgot to add the raisins and walnuts, so I’m looking forward to adding them next time. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Cheryl

    The recipe doesn’t indicate what size pan to use. But the picture looks like you used an 8 x 8… is this correct?

    Yes, that will work. ~Elise

  9. Esther

    At times when work gets hectic I run to my kitchen to decompress :-). Yesterday was one of those days so I went to Simply Recipes web site, saw this applesauce cake and decided to make it.

    I love it! Very simple to make and so packed with flavors.

  10. SHELBY

    Made this last night to use up the jar of applesauce in the fridge and it was so good. The cake was moist and delicious. Very happy with this one, Thanks Elise.

  11. Elissa

    Came out great, but much lighter in color than the cake portrayed in the post–I wonder why that would be. I substituted one cup of flour with whole wheat flour, and even added 2x the amount of cloves than indicated by mistake, but still quite light.

  12. Kristi Knutsen

    This cake turned out delicious! My family and I had it for dessert after we ate your awesome chicken enchilada’s. The cake had a perfect level of spices and was so moist and fluffy, can’t wait to make it again. Thanks for all the wonderful food!

  13. libby

    I added 2 tbs super finely chopped fresh ginger for more kick and topped it with a cream cheese frosting. I highly recommend it!

  14. Krystle

    I made this last week for my daughter, and we liked it…but then my friends came over and completely and unabashedly demolished it! One of my friends had four servings! :) It was really good – I forgot to add the walnuts and raisins, but it was still great. Very moist, kept well, would make it again. Thank you! Looking forward to the next recipe I’m trying – arroz y pollo. :)

  15. Deb Toner

    Just made this today using applesauce I made from Champagne apples~ it was really good.

    FYI- I live at high altitude, so I have to adjust most recipes. For anyone needing to know, the only change was baking time. I baked it 30 minutes, but it was still undercooked and soft in center. I baked 5 more minutes and it was still not quite done, did another 3 minutes and that seems to have done it. I did leave it in the oven 2 minutes after shutting off the oven, just to be sure. It came out moist, and oh so good. Thanks.

  16. Melissa

    Hmm… I just got a ton of apple butter in my CSA, do you think I could swap that for the applesauce? Maybe add a bit of water? Just wondering if a more experienced baker would know… otherwise I’ll figure it out. =)

    Apple butter is typically more intensively seasoned than applesauce. So depending on the type of apple butter you have, you may want to back off on the spices for the cake. Also the traditional apple butter that I make is sweet/sour. There is definitely a strong vinegar note that you would not find in applesauce. That said, some apple butters are not made this way, so it depends on the apple butter you have. If you have a vinegary type, then I would just use regular milk instead of buttermilk or yogurt in the recipe. ~Elise

  17. tammy Mae Etter

    I just made this cake and it is awesome..I didn’t have any vanilla so left that out but still tasted yummy..made my own applesauce with granny smith and did not sweeten it..super good..I love you website have tryed numerous recipes and all have been very good…my favorite go to site for recipes..thanks

  18. denise

    Yum! I also live at high altitude (8500 feet) and didn’t need to make changes, other than bake it for nearly 50 minutes. It came out perfect, didn’t sink at all.

  19. Laura

    It’s currently cool and grey and very fall-like in Chicago, so I thought this recipe would be perfect for a little fall weekend baking. Boy, was I right! The house currently smells divine and the muffins taste delicious.

    I will be taking these to work tomorrow, so I made the recipe as muffins instead of the cake. A double batch of the recipe made 30 muffins for me, but it probably could have made a few more as I filled the muffin cups pretty full. I baked them at 375 and it took 20-25 minutes for them to be fully done.

    While this is my first time commenting here, I love your website and constantly use it as a resource and for inspiration. Thanks for continuing to share your great recipes!

  20. Kat Nski

    Fabulous cake! I’ve made this twice now, using homemade applesauce (local apples and your recipe, but only half the sugar) and the cakes were utterly perfect – moist and deliciously spicy. We’re in the middle of a late winter snowstorm here in MA and I plan on making another one tonight, along with your magnificent potato leek soup and your cheddar, pear, and bacon sandwiches. It doesn’t get better than this. Thanks for all the great recipes!

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