M: No doubt about it. Fall is underway. A crisp chill is in the air. Well, most of the time. This is North Carolina, so if it’s 50 today, it may well be 80 tomorrow. But the tomato plants have withered, not a roadside watermelon stand to be seen and fresh corn is becoming scarce. I’d spend some time lamenting that, except for one thing. Apples. And plenty of them. Sweet or tart, picked yourself or bought by the bushel, apples are here and just in time. Once I finished eating my weight in them, it was down to business. Cider is fermenting, some have been cooked down for their natural pectin and a pie or two has already come and gone. Also part of the parade of apple goodness this year is this autumnally spiced cake, which brings apples and black walnuts together in a dessert that would tip you off to the season even on the odd 80 degree day.
Before I address the cake itself, I want to make mention of the joy I get from one of its ingredients. Applesauce. I don’t mean the stuff you buy in a jar. If you haven’t made applesauce at home, I encourage you to remedy that this season for a couple of reasons. The first reason is pretty obvious. Fresh applesauce tastes great. That is probably enough on its own, but what I really like about it is the magic of pressure cooking. Peeled and cored, I can throw a few pound of apples in the cooker and hit 2 minutes. That’s it. It’s magical, I tell you. It’s like when you watch them prepare food on a cooking show and they put it in the oven, only to reveal the finished product moments later. I bought my first pressure cooker just last year and I wonder how how I ever got along without it. My partner here at the Communal Skillet (from whom I learned the wondrous ways of pressure cooking), favors the traditional stove top cooker, but my electric model is no muss, no fuss and impervious to my wandering attention.
Now about the cake. These classic flavors all come together beautifully here in this moist cake that would be at home at Sunday dinner or packed in a lunchbox. An uncomplicated recipe yields a cake that feels like coming home, wherever you’re from. I didn’t try it, but I’ll wager this would also come out great baked in a loaf pan, like pumpkin bread. But any excuse to break out the bundt pan is fine by me. I fancied mine up a bit with a dollop of whipped cream and a candied apple slice, but it was mostly just to dress it up for the photo. You know, like a kid on picture day. School pictures already? Man, it is fall.
Recipe: Applesauce Cake with Black Walnuts
Summary: Black walnuts and applesauce in a moist cake spiced with cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Yep, fall is here. From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook
- 2 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- 3/4 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
- 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
- 1 Stick Butter, melted
- 2 c Sugar
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 1/2 c Applesauce*
- 1 c Black Walnuts, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour 10 in tube pan.
- Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice together in a medium bowl.
- In mixing bowl beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in egg and then applesauce.
- Add flour mix to mixing bowl and blend until smooth.
- Fold in walnuts and scrape batter into tube pan.
- Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Let cool 10 minutes in pan then invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.
*To make applesauce, core, peel and quarter 3 lb apples (M. I used honeycrisp), add a dash of cinnamon and bring to full pressure for two minutes in pressure cooker. Allow pressure to subside naturally, then stir.
Originally: Applesauce Cake With Black Walnuts