Make the Most of the Apple Season with Applesauce Cake

Apples are delicious, wholesome and just plain comforting. Here’s how to celebrate America’s fruit this month.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

Pair Elizabeth Aselage’s Applesauce Cake with a cup of coffee in the morning or a scoop of ice cream for an after-dinner dessert.

As proud citizens, we know that there are certain traditions imperative to uphold in America. I’m talking about stuff like Independence Day, baseball and apple pie. If you can have a pickup game of baseball on Independence Day and then tear into an apple pie later with the team while watching fireworks, well, there’s probably nothing more American than that.

But Independence Day is over, baseball season is waning and cooler weather is upon us, which leaves our focus squarely upon apples.

And, at the end of the day, isn’t that enough? Apples are amazingly versatile. They can pull off both deliciously sweet and surprisingly savory roles (apple relish, anyone?). Their liquid game is strong, from juice to cider to vinegar.

Basically, the apple does everything. It’s the food equivalent of Benjamin Franklin. However, when an apple goes bad, there’s just no getting it back. So, to keep your apple game as on point as your patriotism, we turned to the experts.

John and Elizabeth Aselage from A&A Orchard know their apples. This makes sense, considering that, in addition to tending their orchard, they devote their time to the University of Arkansas Food Innovation Center. You can also find them at Springfield’s Farmers Market of the Ozarks and the Branson Farmers Market at the Landing. “For the common homeowner, apples will keep several weeks to even a couple of months, but apples are programmed genetically to rot or decay,” John says. “That’s how the seeds are released.”

The Aselages agree that two apples well-suited to the Ozarks’ climate are the Gold Rush and Arkansas Black varieties. Both bear well, have good disease resistance and are late-maturing, which means they will keep longer. Gold Rush is the better choice for eating, and the Arkansas Black is better to use for cooking. They warn against growing the popular and delicious Honey Crisps because the variety matures early and is a favorite for Japanese beetles, making them difficult to successfully grow in this area.

While all the different types of apples and their uses can seem a little tricky, one thing all varieties have in common is the delicious smell produced during baking. Elizabeth shared one of her favorite ways to use apples from the Aselages’ orchard.

Elizabeth’s Applesauce Cake

“This cake is super easy to make and is yummy, especially after it’s refrigerated overnight. (I did adapt this recipe from one I found in an old issue of Martha Stewart Living.) There are a few steps, but the final product is worth the effort.”—Elizabeth Aselage

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter, divided, plus butter to coat pan
2 cups plus ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
2½ cups applesauce (see instructions below)
2¾ cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Calvados (a French apple brandy)
Chef’s note: I substitute our orchard apple cider.
1 large apple, peeled and very thinly sliced. Mutsu is a good variety because it keeps its body.
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

To Prepare
Heat oven to 325ºF. Brush a 10-inch springform pan with soft butter. Coat pan with ¼ cup sugar, lightly tapping out the excess. Set the pan aside. Combine 1 cup of the butter and the remaining sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Carefully fold in the applesauce. Do not overmix. In a separate bowl, sift together 2¾ cup flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, cloves, salt and baking powder. Save remaining cinnamon and nutmeg for the topping mixture. Fold the dry ingredients and toasted nuts into the applesauce batter. Add the vanilla, Calvados (or cider) and apple slices. Mix until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan. In a separate, small bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons flour, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg with the brown sugar and ginger for the topping. Mix the topping ingredients with your fingers until just combined, and then sprinkle lightly over the cake batter. Place the cake in the oven and bake about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Test with a toothpick. Let stand and cool completely before serving.

Elizabeth’s Applesauce Recipe

A variety of in-season apples (Elizabeth recommends Jonathan, Melrose and Golden apple varieties because they are tart and sweet)
A few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
Sugar to taste
Cinnamon to taste

To prepare
Preheat oven to 375–400ºF. Peel and slice the apples, and then put them in a roasting pan. Cover the pan with parchment and foil and bake the apples until they are soft. Elizabeth likes her applesauce to have body, so she leave the apples fairly chunky, simply mashing them with a fork. Mix in a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and sugar and cinnamon to taste.

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