Fall is here, guys! Ok, so maybe we haven’t exactly technically hit the seasonal change and maybe it’s still kind of hot and humid where you live, but let’s just kind of pretend those things don’t exist because this dee-licious cake is ALL ABOUT FALL and we desperately need an excuse to make it NOW!!
I’m talking the flavors of apple, maple, walnuts, cinnamon all working perfectly together in this simple, not-too-sweet, homey treat.
And as if tender apple-y cake isn’t enough, the whole thing is covered in the most divine maple cream cheese frosting! Need I say more?!!
It’s one of those cakes that you make just because you can…because it’ll make your kitchen smell fantastic…because it’s been a long time since we’ve eaten the flavors of fall and we really CAN’T WAIT ANOTHER MINUTE!! What is it with me and all caps today?!! You can see, I’m just a wee bit passionate about this cake. Yay for all the fall baking to come!!!
Applesauce Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes one 9-inch cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes; Bake Time: 40-45 minutes, plus another 5-10 minutes for frosting
For the cake
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger (I didn’t use but use if you like that pumpkin pie spice thing)
1/8 teaspoon cloves (I didn’t use either but I know people like it)
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups turbinado sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
For the frosting
8 ounces brick cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure maple extract (if you can’t find this, increase confectioners’ sugar by 1/4 cup and add 2 tablespoon real maple syrup
Pinch of salt
Extra walnuts for garnish
Preheat oven to 350ºF . Butter and flour a 9-inch square cake pan and set aside.
To make the cake: sift the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves (if using) together and whisk a bit to combine.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter at high speed for 1 minutes. On low speed, slowly add the turbinado sugar. When all of it is added, turn the mixer to high speed and beat for about 6 minutes, until very light in color. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at at time, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the applesauce in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until the flour can’t be seen. You don’t want to over mix or the cake will be tough. Use the spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl, just in case there is any flour still not incorporated and then fold in the walnuts. Scrape the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan.
To make the frosting: Use a whisk attachment if you have it and attach it to the mixer. If not, just use regular beaters and beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, maple extract (or maple syrup) and salt on medium speed until well blended. Then turn the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.
Spread the frosting over the cooled cake and decorate with the walnuts. Cut into squares and serve. You can definitely make this at least a day ahead and store in the fridge, loosely covered with plastic wrap. It’s good cold or at room temperature. Leftovers should definitely be stored in the fridge and should last (ha ha!) at least 5 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from Flavorful by Tish Boyle. She tops this with candied walnuts but good as that sounds, they are overkill here—it really doesn’t need any extra sweetness.