Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Celebration Applesauce Cake

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For their honeymoon, my parents loaded up their car and drove the northeast coast, stopping off at bed & breakfasts sprinkled along their path and getting to know their own native corner of this great country of ours. I wasn’t conceived on that trip, but I think something of the spirit of it made its way into my genes. I have always loved bed & breakfasts far and away above any other traveling accommodations. You could offer me the penthouse suite at the Waldorf Astoria, but I would trade you every time for a family-run establishment in a gingerbread Victorian with homemade cinnamon rolls on the breakfast table.

When Brian and I were married—more than thirty years after my parents’ New England trip—we had what we termed a whirlwind honeymoon! Squeezed between final exams (which ended 48 hours before our wedding!) and Christmas back in my hometown (7 days following the wedding), we found time to squirrel ourselves away in the San Bernardino Mountains for exactly 72 hours.

I’m not sure what my favorite part was. The fact that a snow-loving native New Yorker and a mountain-loving Idahoan found snow in California for their honeymoon. Or, the roaring fire in the hearth next to our bed. The switchback drive up the mountain the night of the wedding while we chatted and dreamed about all the years ahead. Maybe the sweet gentlemen at church the next day who were so delighted that we attended service the morning after our wedding that they treated us to lunch at their favorite soup-and-sandwich joint! Or maybe it was just being able to rest easy in a homey place, secluded and cozy, just the two of us for a whole 72 hours before life turned up again and started making demands.

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This Friday will mark Brian’s and my 5th anniversary! I’m not sure if that seems like a long time (wasn’t it only just yesterday he slipped the ring on my finger?) or a short time (isn’t it like we’ve always been together?), but it certainly is significant.

We made one more bed & breakfast trip about a year-and-a-half after the honeymoon, slipping in just under the wire of parenthood. This was our “babymoon”—and I was nearly eight months pregnant with Sophia. That time, we drove up to Anacortes, Washington and took the ferry over to Orcas Island. We stayed at the Turtleback Farm and enjoyed long walks on the grounds and up to the watchtower in Moran State Park, as well as a famer’s market festival, a summer movie at an old-time theater, and the most fantastic granola I have ever tasted—I got the recipe so I could recreate it at home!

We never really got away again without the kids, and it seemed our bed & breakfast days were put on hiatus. But this year, we will be celebrating with a weekend away in Seattle. We’ve got some plans—a reservation at a bed & breakfast on Capitol Hill (I know, there really is such a place!), a tour of Theo’s Chocolate Factory, tickets to the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, and capping it off with what may be the most incredible dinner of our lives—but the great thing about a weekend at a bed & breakfast is all the surprises.

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And, in conclusion and in celebration, I want to give you all a little gift for my anniversary: the most surprisingly, cozily luscious applesauce cake you will ever come across. It comes straight from one of the very bed & breakfasts that my own parents visited on their honeymoon all those years ago in Mystic Seaport, Connecticut. (Sorry, Mom, am I making you feel old?) It made it’s transcontinental way in my suitcase to college, and now has found a loving home in the Pacific Northwest, enchanting a whole new generation of eager little tummies.

Be warned, though. Despite the fact that it is chock full of nutritious goodies—homemade applesauce, raisins, walnuts—this is one of the most sinfully decadent cakes you will ever taste and probably packs more calories per bite than just about anything that finds its way into or out of my kitchen. But, hey? Indulgence is what celebration is all about, right?

And, if you want to hear a naughty little secret: I once served up slices of it for breakfast! Is it really that much worse than a Starbucks pumpkin scone? (I ran the nutritional information and it is not.) Regardless, I think my *bed &* breakfast-loving parents would have approved.

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Applesauce Cake
barely adapted from the All Seasons Cookbook by Connie Colom and The Mystic Seaport Museum

2 sticks butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 1/2 t. nutmeg
1 T cinnamon
1 t. cloves
1 T baking soda
2 1/2 c. applesauce
2 T corn syrup
1 c. raisins
1 c. chopped walnuts

Caramel Sauce:
1 stick butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 T cream
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c.+ confectioners’ sugar
chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 300F. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, spices, and baking soda. Combine applesauce and corn syrup; add to creamed mixture alternately with dry ingredients. Fold in raisins and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 1 1/2 hours in a convection over and up to 2 hours in a standard, until cake tests done when tester is inserted. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

After cake has cooled, make the caramel sauce by heating the butter, brown sugar, and cream in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla, then whisk in confectioners’ sugar, adding enough to achieve a sauce the consistency of thick frosting. Pour sauce over the cooled cake and immediately sprinkle with the chopped walnuts, so that they will adhere to the sauce; it solidifies very quickly.

The original recipe says this yields 12-14 servings, but it’s so rich, our family cuts this cake up for 20.

5 comments:

  1. Oh - I love applesauce cake! The recipe I have for it comes from my grandmother's best friends' mother....a wonderful baker named, I believe, Alice Randolph. My grandmother used to go home for lunch with her best friend while in school, and she would eat the cake often. I've been surprised over the years to learn how few people have ever had applesauce cake. While I am partial to my recipe, yours does look quite lovely and different, and I think I will have to give it a try. Besides - who can resist anything that has caramel icing on it? Thanks for posting!

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  2. Happy anniversary, Bethany. And many more!

    We are HUGE applesauce cake fans - the breakfast part made me laugh because I always serve the last three pieces to my kids for breakfast. It's so rich they ask for oranges to get the butter out of their mouths. I only ice for Thanksgiving, otherwise I dust with powdered sugar for "everyday", so it's not quite as decadent as it might otherwise be.
    Thanks for sharing your sweet story. Be well!

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  3. Hey, even some breakfast cereals (including "adult" ones) have lots of sugar, so at least your cake is honest about it. Happy Anniversary! I've been married about 3 1/2 years and I know what you mean about feeling like, "didn't we just meet but weren't we always together?" Time is fascinating that way.

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  4. Happy Anniversary! You have a lovely blog. I visit often. The cake looks delicious!

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  5. Yummy! I'm bookmarking this recipe. Thanks! :)
    I would love to tour Theo's someday- how fun!

    If you ever decide to do another B&B trip, we'd love to see you at our new B&B someday! We're in WA at http://hamptoncreekinn.com.

    Blessings,
    Michele @ Frugal Granola

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