Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Penuche Applesauce Cake: or, You'd never believe this is carrot-free

You know how very recently, we modified a cake recipe to use strawberries instead of applesauce? The original recipe was so intriguing- especially since it had an awful lot of ground raisins in it. I've never seen a recipe where you grind raisins. What the heck do they do to a cake?

Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts, 1968

Penuche Applesauce Cake
½ c water
2 c sweetened applesauce*
1 c raisins
1½ c sugar
½ c butter or margarine
2 eggs
¼ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp allspice
2½ c flour
¾ c (3 oz) nuts, chopped

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and dust with flour a 9x13 pan. (For this cake, you want the extra insurance against sticking, so be sure to dust the pan with flour.)
Put in a blender the applesauce, water, and raisins. Thoroughly liquefy.
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. When mixed, switch from a spoon to a whisk and beat in the eggs. Alternately add the flour (in three additions) and the blenderized mixture (in two additions), starting with the flour. Fold in the nuts.
Pour into the pan and bake until done, about 45-50 minutes.
If you're strictly following the original recipe, cool the cake and then ice it. I dumped the icing on right out of the oven and tilted the pan until it was coated. That way the icing kind of melts into the very top of the cake and is so good.

Easy Penuche Icing:
⅓ c butter
1 c brown sugar
½ c cream
Powdered sugar
Put butter and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add cream, and cool to lukewarm. Add enough powdered sugar to make it a spreading consistency. It'll be easier to beat out lumps of sugar if you transfer the brown sugar mixture to a small bowl first.

*I used unsweetened applesauce because it was cheaper. The recipe came out fine.
I used hazelnuts, though I suspect someone making this recipe in 1968 would have used walnuts.

Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts, 1968
Submitter: Mrs. Gloria Shaw; Sedan, KS (Chautauqua County Fair blue ribbon winning recipe)

I had another reason to make this recipe: it's an excuse to get out my one and only wedding present!
I haven't bothered to get married. Indeed, I am the oldest person in my entire extended family to be neither married, engaged, dating, or even merely seeing someone. That is not an exaggeration. I am so single my brother got married and gave me the blender. So if you are so single that you post baby pictures of your houseplants online, worry not! If you truly believe, wedding presents will come your way.

Not knowing just how well-ground Mrs. Gloria Shaw of Sedan, Kansas wanted the raisins to be, I ran the blender until not even the tiniest flecks of skin remained visible. After all, there's no doing it like overdoing it. Incidentally, the raisins didn't change the taste of the applesauce nearly as much as I thought they would.

Only one task remained before we could get to the mixing of the cake. Most happily, it involved using a meat grinder!
Insert a joke about nuts in a meat grinder here.

Rarely do I ever successfully plan things ahead when in the kitchen. But indeed, every ingredient that needed prior preparation had been properly prepared, and we were ready to proceed! Things were going very well until I reached in the refrigerator for the required two eggs and instead found my carousel of progress coming to a whiplash-inducing halt.

Do you know how much side-eye one receives from going grocery shopping in batter-spattered clothes?
Had I halved the recipe, we could have been at this point half an hour ago.

At this point, we had what tasted like a perfectly good (if somewhat salty) spice cake. Seriously, this recipe uses a lot of salt for just one cake. I'd have cut back on how much  I added except that apparently this recipe won a blue ribbon at some county fair in Kansas. Therefore, if I ended up with a cake that tasted like someone spilled seawater on it, I could blame some county fair judges from the last millennium.
But enough of that. Let's bring on the blenderized raisins!

As a recipe note, it seems that sweetened applesauce is considered outdated now because the store didn't have very much of it. And what they did have was kind of expensive. Anyway, we now have this big pan of cake batter!
Unsurprisingly, this tasted really good.

Those who were traumatized by raisins you thought were chocolate chips will be glad to know that you really couldn't taste their presence. Though it occurred to me: between all the butter, the raisins, and the nuts (not to mention what goes in the icing which we haven't gotten to yet), this must be one of the most calorie-dense cake recipes ever perpetrated on A Book of Cookrye. As I stirred in the nuts, I wondered if this was a fairly representative specimen of the food one would have found in Mrs. Gloria Shaw of Sedan, Kansas' household. And if so, could any of the men in the family see their belt buckles in a mirror?

Right, let's get all this in the pan! Like the last time we used this recipe, this proved to be a lot of cake batter.

With the cake in the oven, we decided to ignore the dirty dishes and instead get the icing ready to go. The icing uses brown sugar, butter, cream, and in general looked like one of the richest icing recipes I've made in a long time. However, for reasons known only to herself, Mrs. Gloria Shaw of Sedan, Kansas has us using almost but not quite a whole stick of butter.
Thank heavens we weren't supposed to put this in the icing, because that would have made it fattening.

With that said, if you can resist sampling a pot of this, not even allowing yourself a dainty dip of the spoon, you have no soul.

To save dishes, I tried to finish the icing in the pot. This resulted in chasing powdered sugar lumps with a whisk until I accepted the reality of more things to wash and got out another bowl. The result: insanely delicious icing.

One of the nice things about cakes with ludicrously long baking times is that you can get the icing done and all the dishes washed before removing them from the oven, thus eliminating that dread of the impending cleanup. And behold how delicious the cake looks!

And so, we dump icing on. Unlike last time, absolutely no attempts at decoration were made.

What, you think it looks bad? Let's just tilt the pan a few times to get a more even coverage.

It may not be the most attractive icing job I've ever done, but at least it doesn't look ugly. Uninspired, yes, but not ugly.
I brought this to a party and everyone liked it. However, they all thought it was a carrot cake. It's the weirdest thing, but this really does taste like it has carrots in it. It tastes like the best damn carrot cake you'll ever make. This is the carrot cake you'd make for someone who swears they hate carrot cake (as a bonus, you can then say "Surprise! There's no carrots in it!"). Those with whom I left the leftovers informed me that as a further bonus, this cake does not dry out. And so, in conclusion, if you are not on a diet this week, make this cake.

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