Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Grandmommy's Applesauce Spice Cake


The women in my family were such amazing role models for me as a youngster (and still are today!). They were all independent people, filled with self-respect, busily working and volunteering for social causes they were passionate about... It's really amazing to reflect on.

just a small percentage of her various activities and skills

My grandma was a particularly great example in so many ways. She was deeply passionate about the environment, population control, Macintosh computers, and much more. She was a total do-it-yourselfer long before that was even a thing. She painted walls, developed black and white film, sewed like a seamstress, put up wallpaper, canned no-sugar applesauce, silkscreened tee shirts and posters, wrote newsletters, worked in the garden, jogged or swam every day... and the list goes on.

That said, one thing the ladies in my family weren't busy doing was baking cakes and cookies all the time. I was coming home from school to boxes of Historical Society newsletters that needed to have address labels stuck on them, not to plates of cookies. So, when someone did take the time to bake a goodie, it was most definitely a super special occasion.


There was this one, totally delicious Applesauce Spice Cake that my grandma made for pretty much every family birthday party or celebration. I remember this cake being The Cake that was always there ~ at every party and that everyone was happy about. As my mom put it, "It was the default." ha ha. I've thought a lot about that cake in recent years. What was it exactly? What was that recipe?

It turned out so totally perfectly

So, I asked my aunt Laura to look through Grandmommy's old cookbooks and see what she could find. Laura found a few different touching tidbits - recipes with stars next to them, little notes, and handwritten recipes. But, when she found my grandma's copy of The Joy Of Cooking, "the book pretty much fell open to the Applesauce Cake recipe." Aha!

My mom and Laura were telling me that spice cakes have been a popular choice in our family going back since well before my time. My mom and dad even had a spice cake at their wedding!

complete with coffee-flavored frosting & rainbow candles!

So, Laura scanned the page and sent it to me. You can see the same recipe online here. It is a great recipe and almost effortless to veganize (only one egg? no problemo!). This weekend was my aunt Laura's birthday, and also it was my Grandpa's birthday, because they have the same birthday. So, in honor of both of them, I made Grandmommy's Applesauce Spice Cake! Plus, I even used my own homemade no-sugar applesauce. And, I made her super-special coffee frosting (see below).  DAMN, that stuff is good.

My aunt Laura and my mom and dad came over in the afternoon and we had a little mini-birthday party with spice cake and coffee. It was such a sweet and delicious walk down memory lane to taste this cake again after so many years, especially in the company of my family - which made the memory even more perfect and complete. I don't know how long it's been, but it has been quite a while since I last had it. It's full of walnuts and raisins and warm spices and moisture, and it is just 100% delicious. Try it, I know you'll like it - and maybe it will become a new family classic for you too!


Grandmommy's Super Simple Coffee Frosting
This is not even a recipe. It just goes like this:

Pour some powdered sugar into a cereal bowl. Add a little vegan butter (I only used about 1 Tbsp). Add a tiny little pour of non-dairy milk. Add a 1/4-1/2 tsp instant coffee powder (I used about half of a Starbucks Via packet). Stir it all together. If it is too liquidy and the margarine won't mix in, add a bit more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add a tiny bit more milk. The texture is correct when the viscosity of the frosting is enough to integrate the margarine and it becomes thick but stir-able. 

22 comments:

  1. I love the multi-generational labeling of newsletters! The fact that the cookbook opened to this recipe warms my heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) yes, the newsletters were plentiful: Sierra Club, Zero Population Growth, Downtown Association, Historical Society, Natural History Museum, Family Health & Education Center... and those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head!

      Delete
  2. That piping is totally perfect. The only baked good I associate my grandmother with is a drawer full of Tastykakes, which I have plenty of happy memories about.
    I love spice cake! If you've never made one with a little sorghum, it's worth the addition!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shannon - somehow I love writing with frosting! I've never tried sorghum in a spice cake! What a great idea. Next time I'll just sub out a little of the A.P. flour for some sorghum. Spice cakes are under-rated!

      Delete
    2. Seriously- your lettering is very impressive! I somehow lose all hand-eye coordination when I've got a pastry bag in my hands. That cake looks delicious, I wish I had some right now!

      Delete
  3. We had a default cake in our family, too. It was chocolate and I think it was one of those cakes you make from a box but you add pudding and eggs to "enhance" it. I don't care about the cake, but I'd give anything to know how my mom made the frosting. I've searched all her cookbooks to no avail. I once memorized the recipe for a school recitation (the teacher was um, disappointed it wasn't a poem) but all I can remember is 11 tablespoons cocoa and 11 tablespoons sugar. Maybe hypnotism would work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Andrea, I love this comment... I love so much that you memorized a recipe for recitation!!! It's amazing to think how these recipes we love can just disappear into ether. I think Musty felt that way about Rizot, until we found a recipe... so I hope one day you will be able to recreate your mom's frosting. :)

      Delete
    2. I've tried to re-create it. I even wrote a post about it. But I know it's not exactly the same, and I really want the recipe she used. Somewhere in my brain cells, it is stored. But, where?

      Delete
  4. My mom is basically like your grandmother except that she probably doesn't know what a mac is and that she doesn't bake:) That cake sounds great but I am sure I would be all over that frosting, too!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I LOVE "not even a recipe" recipes. And that she was deeply passionate about Macintosh computers. And everything about her - my husband's grandmother (presently working on her multi-volume novel at the age of 85) is a lot like that, and my daughter has been fortunate to be near her great grandmother/GiGi for several years! Also, that cake looks delicious. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think this must be the same cake my mom would make (around the same time - late 70s early 80s) and I have fond memories of it too! We didn't have dessert very often, so this applesauce cake was a special deal. It was my brother's first birthday cake, and she made it in a bundt pan. I think I'll make it this weekend - thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love this story so much, that you guys remembered and found and then veganized such a special recipe. It's so sweet! I definitely want to make this cake now.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Awww how adorable are those illustrations!!!

    I love nostalgic stories. Thank you so much for sharing it and your family recipe. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your granny sounds like an awesome lady! Spice cake with coffee frosting is a pretty ingenious combination too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Everybody else has pretty much already said it, but this one is so wonderful. I can't decide whether I want to be your grandma myself, or whether I wish she was *my* grandma.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What beautiful piping skills!
    Spiced apple cakes are one of my favourites. My Dad loves spiced apple cakes, I make them for his birthday, so I will have to try this one for his next one!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your Grandmommy sounds like quite the mutli-talented lady! So great that labeling newsletters was a family event. I'm a big fan of spiced cake, all those warm fuzzy spices make me feel like snuggling up with a piece.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Coffee and spice, what a fantastic combo and gorgeous cake. Will your family adopt me?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love this post Amey, you described the cake so perfectly that I can almost taste it!

    ReplyDelete
  15. That cake is so absolutely adorable.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That cake is so absolutely adorable.

    ReplyDelete
  17. That cake is so absolutely adorable.

    ReplyDelete

I love comments, they really make my day!