Oct 01

Applesauce Autumn Cake with Candied Pecans



Applesauce Autumn Cake with Candied Pecans2





Hurrah! Hurrah! It is officially my favourite time of year … autumn. Not exactly time to bring out the scarves and leggings yet, but there is definitely an autumn feel in the air. The trees are turning all manner of beautiful, with shades of rust and golds; autumn berries drooping off branches … it’s just beautiful. Even the animals are acting differently in the hedge, down the lane where we live. When the days get shorter and the light gets softer, I think we can’t help but feel compelled to bring out the trays and bake yummy, tummy warming treats. Pies, tarts, thick soups … the works … oh, and let’s not even get started on the spices and the nuts that suddenly find their way into every dish!


Everywhere I look, people in the blogosphere have posts up welcoming the fall season one way or another, with many foodies already way ahead of me with their posts on Thanksgiving and what not. Wow, these people are organised! I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal when it comes to my baking needs. I have been known to make lists in an effort to be more focused and to help guide my cooking/ baking ideas for the year … but that hasn’t worked. These days I just make what I feel inspired to make … or what R. asks me to.


There’s been issues in the kitchen lately between R. and I and the shopping list of things I buy (preemptively) for all my baking needs. I bought pears a couple weeks ago under the pretext of baking him a pear amandine ~ those pears are still in the fruit basket. Yesterday we had pork roast for dinner and bought a large jar of apple puree to go with it. I don’t know why we do it coz we never finish the contents anyway, and it ends up turning to alcohol or forgotten in the very depths of the fridge. So before it happens again this time, I quickly researched an applesauce cake recipe. Mom used to make us a spiced apple tea cake when I was little, and so I took that as a reference point and worked towards recreating a similar flavour. Mom used chopped walnuts in the cake batter, but I am leaving all nuts out of the cake in mine, choosing instead to add the crunch factor on top as a garnish. I am using candied pecans and they are soooooooooo delicious when eaten with this spiced cake, slathered in luscious vanilla cream cheese frosting.



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Applesauce Autumn Cake with Candied Pecans.


2 cups all purpose flour

120 g unsalted butter, softened

1 cup white castor sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

1½ cups jarred applesauce / apple puree

2 whole large eggs

2 tbsp fresh milk

1½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¾ tsp all-spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon




Cream Cheese Frosting

250 g Philadelphia cream cheese

125 g unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar




Candied Pecans

75 g pecans

100 g white sugar

1 tbsp water





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Cream butter and both sugars for a good 5 – 8 minutes until light and creamy. Then add vanilla and eggs one at a time.


Add milk and applesauce. The applesauce I am using comes already sweetened ~ just something to be aware of coz there are unsweetened apple purees out there on the market.


In a clean bowl, add all the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all spice. Dump everything in with the wet ingredients all at once and mix until just combined. I always fold in any last bits of visible flour by hand with a spatula to avoid over-mixing by the machine. Over-mixing will cause your cake to toughen.


Pour batter into a square cake tin lined with parchment paper. Level the top and bang the tin on the counter to release any air bubbles within.


Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C on a lower rack to prevent the top from browning too quickly. There is quite a bit of sugar in this recipe to the cake will tend to brown a lot quicker and a lot darker than most cakes, so watch the temperature. Bake for 30 – 40 mins until the center comes out clean when poked with a skewer.



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Allow the cake to cool completely before you frost it. In the meantime, make your candied pecans by melting sugar and a splash of water in a pan to make the caramel. When it you are happy with the colour, take the pan off the fire and dump in all the pecans, using a spoon to coat each and every one thoroughly. You gotta work quickly with caramel because it will harden in the blink of an eye if you are not careful. Immediately dump out the pecans onto parchment paper and spread them out to cool and harden. Please note that there is a HUGE difference in dark caramel and burnt caramel … and you don’t want the latter. If you happen to burn your caramel then you will have to start over … there is no way to save burnt caramel.




  NEVER EVER stick your finger into a pot of boiling caramel to have a taste! Boiling caramel can reach temps of up to 150ºC  




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As for the cream cheese frosting, just place softened cream cheese and butter into a bowl and beat until fluffy, then add vanilla and the powdered sugar. I generally don’t favour overly sweet frostings so I don’t usually use an entire cup of powdered sugar … but feel free to adjust the sweetness according to your liking. Remember, the cake is already pretty sweet, so leaving the cream cheese frosting with a little tartness will compliment the flavour of the cake itself. Chill in the fridge if you find the frosting a little too soft to ice the cake immediately after beating it with a whisk.


Once you finish icing the cake, decorate the top using chopped pecans. Serve with a nice cup of coffee and you are all set for a delicious fall treat.



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Well, that’s one autumn recipe down, now I just have to work on the rest. I do want to try making pumpkin spice sugar cookies, or pecan pie … something classic coz I am always of the belief that practicing with classics really trains the skills.



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This recipe is a real keeper. So good, in fact, that I told R. if I get my own bistro, I’d be serving this up every fall, no questions asked. I am not a person who likes a lot of nuts in my food but man, if they all tasted as awesome as these pecans coated in crunchie caramel …. omg, they can decorate any of my desserts anytime. I may also just go about looking for new dessert recipes that use pecans just to have an excuse to use them in this way! Stay tuned for more fall recipes by me.



~ Enjoy! ~


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