This vegan Spiced Applesauce cake is lightly spiced and incredibly moist. The cake itself is delicious on it’s own without frosting or caramel if you’re looking for a less elaborate baking project, and can be baked in a large bundt pan instead of layer pans.
I created this cake recipe for my mom’s birthday while we were visiting my parents recently. It was fun to incorporate her pretty wedding dishes into the shot, too. The vanilla frosting lets the flavors of the spice cake shine and the caramel just makes everything that much more indulgent and special. If you bake this in a bundt pan, you could drizzle the top with maple glaze once the cake has cooled.
Raisins are an option here (not so in my mom’s eyes, they are mandatory), but I get that raisins are on the no-go list for some people. Chopped pecans or walnuts would be really nice substitutes, although the cake without any nuts or fruit is delicious on its own.
Something else that makes this cake so special is that it’s made with applesauce I made from apples that my mom picked with my kids and I last fall. My parents have an orchard filled with small but high yielding apple trees. They have something like 25 varieties of mostly heirloom apples. I hadn’t fully appreciated the vast differences in taste, texture and color between apple types before my parents moved to this property. Late last summer, we sat down and did a couple of taste tests one day, cutting into one of each type of apple and then tasting a slice from each. Some were so explosive in flavor compared to others with a mixture of fruity and floral notes, some were so pink inside while others were almost green or yellow and then others were so white, some were hard and crisp while others were almost spongy. It was an exploration in just one of nature’s areas of expertise in diversity and beauty.
I used a variety of apple types for each batch of applesauce I made. I added only lemon juice to the applesauce to keep the acidity in check for safe canning. No sugar. No spices. Just apples and a bit of lemon juice. The combination of the flavors from all the different types of apples makes the most flavorful and truly delicious applesauce. And just to highlight this point, I had come to the end of my homemade applesauce reserves last winter so I bought some at the store. My kids were disappointed when they started eating it and they said it didn’t taste good! In that moment, I felt redeemed for the many hours spent peeling, chopping, cooking and canning the homemade applesauce. Homemade just can’t be beat.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy this applesauce cake. It’s definitely a family favorite.
Spiced Applesauce Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- 2 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
- ⅔ cup neutral vegetable oil (e.g. avocado, canola, sunflower, etc)
- ¼ cup baking molasses
- 4 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup raisins (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three round 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides.
- In a large bowl, sift in the dry ingredients and whisk to blend.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour them into the dry ingredients, and stir with a large spoon just until the dry ingredients are blended. Fold in the raisins, being careful not to over mix.
- Pour the batter equally among the 3 pans and place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean (a couple of cooked crumbs is okay). Let cool for 20 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack. Frost as desired.