Saturday, December 4, 2010

Birthdays! (Or, catching up on late posts...)

October is always a busy birthday month around here. Seth kicks it off on the 1st, and there's a bit of a lull until my mom (24th) and myself (29th). I have a number of girlfriend birthdays before and after my birthday as well, so the cake and cards and prezzies abound.

Happily, Ma and Pa were here for my birthday weekend, and so we celebrated three days in a row (my father's birthday is just a couple of weeks into November, so of course we had to party for him, too). For my birthday, friends had given me cupcakes and a pumpkin pie, so I felt no need to bake something else. For my dad I made a pecan pie (his favorite), and for my mom I landed finally on Smitten Kitchen's spiced applesauce cake from a friendly recommendation (thanks, Ginger!), and it was better than I could have hoped. Yummy and moist and not too sweet.

These beauties were so good they disappeared over the course of the weekend, at all times of day and night. If we ate them before noon, they were "muffins," if we ate them after noon, they were appropriately called "cupcakes." Somehow, they were healthier in the morning... go figure.

Applesauce spice cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped

For frosting
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan.

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; I did not). The batter will look a little curdly 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. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

For the frosting: 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.

I also received a cute new cake pan for my birthday, one that looks like a little three-tiered cake, all in one. Very fun. I frosted one for Ma and stuck a little candle on top, all special like. We even sang, lucky lady. Ha. 

A little mini-cake  for Ma!


  1. Glad to hear the cake was a success.

  2. how perfect you posted this recipe! My friend Betsy's daughters made and gave me a mason jar full of unsweetened apple sauce! I think I'll make this to bring to Dave's sister's Christmas party!

  3. I loved those cupcakes!

    Yesterday in Victoria I thought of you. We parked quite by chance in the only free space... and it was next to Pink Sugar... a cupcake shop. As I was first one done with my errands I stood and studied the menu and looked over their offerings... and nearly fainted when I saw the price of a dozen cupcakes was over $30. But they sure looked good!


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