It's November on the US Eastern seaboard. It's cold all around: the weather, the politics, the mood of all of us who suddenly had to grab our down jackets just 24 hours after a balmy, sunny 65 degree day.
I usually make dessert for Shabbat on Thursday, leaving cooking to Thursday night and the very early morning hours on Friday. In reality, I usually think about what I'm going to make for dessert for two or three days prior to Thursday since I love making sweets and because it's the only time we have a planned sweet at the end of any meal (as if week-night dinners are actually a planned meal).
I'm partial to both chocolate and fruit and even though we're limited to apples locally (and lots of trucked-in out of season fruit), I have a chest freezer with lots of summer fruit that was purchased and packed up while the choices were abundant and prices cheap. This is the same freezer that I promised my husband would only be used in the few weeks prior to the fall holidays and then again in the spring before Passover. This is one of our family jokes- the way we over stock groceries, freeze anything that can be frozen (you never know when you'll need 2 oz. of fresh lemon juice, right?) and live by the motto that you never know when you'll need that one esoteric ingredient. The freezer is never empty and is never shut off. If you love to bake or cook and freeze, an extra freezer is a game-changer.
Which brings me to this applesauce cake. We do have a freezer with blueberries, sliced peaches, and fresh figs ;however, this is the week that I didn't think about dessert until an hour before I had to make it. So forget a fresh fruit dessert this week, everything is frozen. We do happen to have applesauce (just in case.....) and so applesauce became the central ingredient of whatever dessert we would have for Shabbat. Even better (when you have a 32 oz. jar of applesauce) this cake takes 16 oz of applesauce. It's not as stunning as a beautiful apple galette or crumble, but it is a simple comfort food all the same.
The cake is assembled in 3 layers. The fat-flour mixture is the basis of both the cake batter and crumb topping. The applesauce is added as a layer over the cake batter base. The cake is baked in a rectangle baking pan. Beginning to end it's mixed and baked in under 2 hours.
2 qt. rectangle pan (I use a 2 qt. Pyrex baking dish, measuring 7 x 11 inches)
mixing bowl, measuring equipment
electric mixer or stand mixer
parchment paper (to line the pan)
1 1/2 cup margarine (3 sticks). You can use butter or a combination of vegetable shortening and margarine.
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
4 c (18 oz.) all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 extra large eggs (added after the crumb portion has been removed)
16 oz. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 of the batter prior to the eggs being added
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c cinnamon chips or cinnamon bits (I use cinnamon bits, available from King Arthur flour)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut and line a baking pan with parchment paper
2. Blend the flour, salt and baking powder and stir
3. Cream the fat and sugar, add the flour mixture, blend well and set aside about 1/3 of the mixture. Blend in the eggs after the crumb portion has been set aside
4. Press the cake batter into the prepared pan
5. Combine the applesauce layer ingredients and spread over the cake batter base
6. Combine topping ingredients. The flour mixture will be grainy, which is ok, since it will make a crumb-type topping. Spread over the applesauce
7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean8. Cool before slicing. The cake will stay well, covered for 2-3 days. The cake can be double wrapped and frozen (use within 4-6 weeks)
Another time, with a bit of planning, another great coffee cake (made with blueberries) can be found here: Blueberry Crumb Spice Cake