Applesauce and a small amount of oil make this a tender, moist cake that requires no mixer. On its own or with a light dusting of powdered sugar, Applesauce Cake makes a great addition to a breakfast or brunch spread. Add some cream cheese frosting, and it’s a dessert that’s easy enough for a weeknight.
Clara has been talking about a recipe that only a 5-year-old could dream up. She tells me that it’s a “muffin” that includes frosting, crushed graham crackers, butter, and “a pinch of salt”. I’m one part curious and two parts nervous about setting her loose in the kitchen to see what happens.
I’m hoping her inspiration has come from a flurry of cake-baking we’ve been doing to create easy, weeknight-friendly cakes like this household go-to – One-Bowl Chocolate Cake. These are my favorite kind of cakes – just the right size for serving at a meal or two, fun to serve to guests, and don’t require a mixer or a bunch of work. Applesauce cake our latest favorite. Read on for a few tips to make this snack cake that is great for fall.
Applesauce Cake Ingredients
- Applesauce – I tested this cake with all varieties of applesauce and the cake always came out great. In the end, I settled on a cinnamon applesauce with no added sugar because it gave the cake even more great cinnamon flavor. Just be sure that you use room temperature applesauce (see note below).
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – Not just for pumpkin recipes! The primary ingredient in pumpkin pie spice is cinnamon which, of course, is a great fit for the flavor of apples. Pumpkin pie spice also gives the apple cake the flavor of ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Think of the spices in warm apple cider – that’s what you’ll get from this cake. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can make the cake with just ground cinnamon (also great, but not as flavorful).
- Egg and Egg Yolk – You’ll need one whole egg and one egg yolk (discard the extra white). That extra yolk just helps to bind the cake and makes it extra tender.
- Packed Brown Sugar – Either light or dark brown sugar will work.
- Vegetable Oil – Applesauce makes this cake moist and tender, but you’ll also need a small amount of oil.
- Flour, Baking Soda, Salt, Pure Vanilla Extract – You’ll also need these other pantry staples.
How to Make Applesauce Cake
This is easy. No mixer required! You’ll just need two bowls – one large and one small.
- Mix dry ingredients – In a large bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Use a whisk to do this and make sure that the pumpkin pie spice looks evenly distributed.
- Mix wet ingredients – In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, brown sugar, applesauce, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract
- Combine everything until just combined – Do not overmix the cake. Use a spatula just to stir the dry and wet ingredients until you see no dry spots.
- Add mix-ins – Want to customize? Stir in any of the optional mix-ins below.
- Bake – Transfer to the oven and bake for 28 to 30 minutes (add a few minutes if using mix-ins). That’s it!
Use Room Temperature Ingredients
It’s important that the ingredients you use for this applesauce cake are room temperature. You want the batter to be room temperature when it goes into the oven to insure that it cooks evenly. When testing the cake with applesauce straight from the refrigerator, the center of the cake was still uncooked when the edges were cooked through.
Optional Mix-Ins / Toppings
The applesauce cake is great all on its own. However, if you want to make it your own, try adding any of these mix-ins.
- Chopped Walnuts or Pecans
- Golden Raisins
- Apple, peeled and diced
- Chocolate Chips
Serve the cake on its own, or top it with:
Key to Moist Cake / Quick bread
The key to making a moist cake or quick bread like applesauce cake is not to overmix the batter. That is why you mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls first. Mix them very well on their own so that, when combined, you only need to stir a few times. A wide spatula is the best tool to use as it allows you to gently fold the ingredients together just until you see no dry spots of flour.
- 8”x8” or 9”x9” square baking dish
For the Cake
- 1 cup Applesauce
- 1 Egg
- 1 Egg yolk (discard egg white)
- 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 3/4 cup packed Brown Sugar (light or dark will work)
- 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 cup Chopped Walnuts or Pecans
- 1/2 cup Golden Raisins
- 1 small Apple, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
- About 15 minutes before cooking, combine applesauce, egg, and egg yolk in a small mixing bowl.
- Let them sit out at room temperature. (Note: This is especially important if your applesauce has been in the refrigerator. Using room temperature applesauce and eggs will insure that the cake cooks evenly.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spray an 8”x8” baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt until very well combined.
- To the bowl with the applesauce and eggs, whisk in brown sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract until well combined.
- Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir with a spatula just until combined (be careful not to overmix; a lighter touch here will lead to a more tender, moist cake).
- Stir in any of the optional add-ins.
- Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake until the center of the cake is just set and edges are light golden brown, 28 to 30 minutes. (Note: If you added chopped apples to the cake, it may take up to 5 minutes longer to cook through since the apples may release moisture into the cake as it cooks.)
- Let cake cool completely in the pan. Slice and serve.
Where’s June…where’s June…there she is! (This baby could play peek-a-boo for HOURS right now.)
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