A LOT of the flavor of this cake depends upon the applesauce used. This is an older recipe, created when applesauce wasn't diluted and had good flavor, sweetness, and some tang to it from the natural acid of the apples. There's a lot of watery applesauce out there these days, so taste yours first. If you can't get good stuff, quarter, core and microwave some apples in a covered dish until soft (the skins slip right off when it's done), and use that. I used a nice, flavorful, organic brand, but when I checked, it seemed low on acid, so, to make the cake rise well, I added a T. of cider vinegar to it. The cake rose a bit TOO well, almost overflowing the pan, so next time I will cut back to 2 tsps. ALSO, dates are very sweet, so if you are omitting them, be a bit generous w/ the sugar. Frankly, it's unfair to the recipe to omit all the add-ins, use watery applesauce, and then complain that the cake is bland. I did skip the dates and raisins, but kept the nuts, used only the amount of cinnamon and cloves called for, but compensated for the omissions by increasing the brown sugar and adding the same amount of powdered ginger as cinnamon. The cake turned out delicious w/ definite applesauce flavor, and I appreciated the restrained use of shortening. A keeper that I plan to make again often.
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A LOT of the flavor of this cake depends upon the applesauce used. This is an older recipe,...