Agnes’s applesauce cake

Yield: 16 servings, or up to 30 thin slices

This recipe actually calls for “one box” – i.e., 2 ¾ cups – of raisins, but not everyone likes that many raisins. You may omit raisins and/or nuts, or substitute other dried fruits. Black walnuts, with their unusual, slightly-bitter taste, are wonderful in this.

This makes a very large cake – plenty to share at Christmas. It becomes moister after the first day.


  • 2 ½ cups applesauce (regular or unsweetened)
  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup strawberry preserves (not sugar-free)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ tsp. to 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. to 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, lightly spooned into cup and evened
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup coarsely-chopped walnuts, English or black
  • 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. additional flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease and flour a tube or Bundt pan.
  2. Heat the applesauce, stirring often enough to prevent sticking, to a warm but not hot temperature. Remove from heat source and stir in baking soda. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. Mix oil, preserves, eggs, brown sugar, spices, and vanilla until well-combined.
  4. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add flour mixture to batter in ¾-cup increments, alternating with applesauce. Begin and end with flour.
  5. Add walnuts, if using. Toss raisins with additional flour, to prevent raisins sinking to the bottom of the cake batter. Discard surplus flour and add raisins to batter. Stir well.
  6. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth the top of the mixture. Bake for approximately 80-90 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool in pan for 15-20 minutes. Turn out onto cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.

This is the cake that Gabe rhapsodizes over in GABE: Holidays with the Hometown Hero Book 3.

It tastes like Christmas to me, with its dark fruitiness and spices. It’s dense and rich, like a good pound cake, except with Christmassy flavor. It will accept a drizzle (about 2 tablespoons) of liquor nicely, or a basting with brandy or rum syrup, after it is cool.

Want to check out GABE? You can find him HERE.