Without fail, every time we hit late September, I crave apples. Apples with cheddar, apples with peanut butter, apples with honey — all sound good, even though most months of the year, I wouldn’t give a Macintosh or Red Delicious a passing thought.
Most of all, around this time, I crave apples baked with warm spices into a plush morning cake, something that can be eaten for breakfast or for dessert. (It’s no coincidence that exactly a year ago, I was talking about apple cake.) There’s something about the combination of apples and cinnamon that’s so quintessentially fall, like visiting an orchard or going leaf-peeping in the mountains.
Of course since it was raining all day yesterday, I didn’t have time to go to the farmer’s market and buy real apples for a cake, so instead, I made applesauce cake. Since it doesn’t require fresh apples, I suppose you could make it year-round and not be disappointed, but this cake is just so autumnal. It’s fragrant and spicy and steeped with apple flavor. It’s akin to drinking a piping hot mug of mulled cider or crunching fiery-hued leaves under your toes — in short, it’s one of the great pleasures of fall.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
– 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
– 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
– 2 tablespoons honey
– 1 large egg
– 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (chunky is preferable)
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1) Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.
2) In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy. (If doing this without an electric mixer, it really helps to use softened butter.) Beat in the egg until just combined.
3) Mix in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, until just combined. Stir in the applesauce and walnuts, then pour into the cake pan and smooth out the top.
4) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake is a deep golden brown and a fork inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before serving.