I should really thank Kate for inspiring me to make this recipe. (Have you met her? Well, she is awesome and you should probably head over to her blog. Shopping, baking, and running? No wonder we get along.)
After a delicious meal at Peels, one of my favorite eateries in New York, we got to talking about baked goods and what was the best item to bring to a casual get-together. Since I’m on an apple bender at home (I can eat 4 apples a day, not kidding!) I thought an apple cake would be heavenly.
Just like that, the wheels in my little brain started churning…
Apple Bundt cake? Apple Cinnamon Loaf cake? Apple Crumb Cake? Spiced Apple Layer Cake?
The possibilities are endless!
While crumb cake is absolutely delicious and layer cakes are stunning, I had neither the time nor the inclination to make them. Instead, I thought about a simple snacking cake. You know, the kind of cake that has you slicing of bits and pieces every hour or two. No mess, no fuss. Only sweetness.
Enter this Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting. Granted, it doesn’t contain actual apples BUT it uses applesauce, which is even better in terms of baking. Applesauce is commonly used in healthy baking because it can take the place of butter by adding much need moisture to the cake. Don’t fret though, this cake is not for the healthy sort thanks to the butter, brown sugar, and cream cheese frosting.
Did I just say cream cheese frosting?! You bet I did. It is amazingly sweet with a slight tang, which plays well with the spiced applesauce cake.
If you didn’t already get the idea, the cake is a must-be-made item. Make it for Thanksgiving as a pre-dinner snack, make it for the morning-after breakfast, or just make it later tonight for a midnight snack.
Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen & Gourmet.com
Yields: 8-10 servings
2 cups (8 3/4 ounces or 250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
3/4 teaspoon (2 grams) cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 3/4 ounces or 218 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (about 13 ounces or 365 grams) unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup (about 1 3/4 ounces or 50 grams) walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped
5 ounces (142 grams) cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces or 42 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces or 120 grams) confectioners sugar
1/2 (1 teaspoon) teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. Line the bottom of cake pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using). The batter will look a little curdled and uneven but don’t worry, it will all bake up perfectly in the end.
Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Re-invert cake onto a rack to cool completely. At this point, you can wrap the cake with plastic wrap and store to use at a later date.
Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy.
Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.
Do ahead: We were impressed with how well this cake kept for three days but were unable to “research” if it lasted longer. Keep frosted cake in the fridge. If you’d like to bake the cake further in advance, I’d wrap it well and freeze it until the day you need it. Leave it out on the counter to defrost and frost it up to a day in advance.