Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sun and Sea and Fog... and Spiced Baked Goods

In the interest of both mental and physical health, I am, contrary to my gloomy prediction last weekend, taking a couple of days off. This week I started to come down with some sort of cold--sore throat, fuzzy head, general malaise, and so on. I decided that in the long run, a couple of days of rest and no work would do me more good than trying to push through the next several weeks continually on the verge of getting sick, and not working at full capacity. After all, if I'm sitting at my desk and doing nothing but staring at the screen, thinking about how much I want to be on the couch with a cat in my lap, I'm not getting much work done.

Anyway, hooray for the weekend! I am, fittingly, spending my relaxation time in the land of sun and sea and fog: Big Sur. Right now we have one part fog and two parts sun--the house is about at the top of the fog layer, so while I can't see the beach for all for the fog, I nevertheless have blue sky overhead. On the agenda today: catching up on blog commenting (particularly chez Bee), educating myself on the myriad California ballot measures, importing favorite recipes into Souschef, planning the week's meals and grocery shopping, and--time permitting--getting a head start on planning Thanksgiving dinner.

Our rather ambitious eating plans for the weekend involve biscuits/shortcake (with strawberries from the garden), a butternut squash and sage soup from Bouchon, a roast chicken, and dinner tonight at the Bakery. I also brought with me roughly half of a loaf of applesauce spice bread (recipe below), which I made on Thursday with some homemade applesauce. If you like spiced cakes, be sure to give this one a try. I usually make it with cinnamon, but this time I tried it with one teaspoon cinnamon and one teaspoon ground cardamom. It's good this way, but I think I prefer the all-cinnamon version.

Applesauce Spice Bread

From: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Deborah Madison)
Yield: One loaf


  1. 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  2. 1/2 cup white sugar
  3. 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1 cup applesauce (preferably homemade)
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  7. 2 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 2 teaspoons ground cardamom or cinnamon
  10. 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  11. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  12. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and place a rack in the upper half (dividing the oven into thirds).
  2. While the oven is preheating, allow the butter and eggs to come to room temperature.
  3. Lightly butter a loaf pan and line it with parchment paper, then butter and flour it.
  4. Cream the butter with the two sugars in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between additions.
  6. In another bowl, stir together flour, salt, and spices, sifting if necessary to break up clumps.
  7. In a small bowl, combine applesauce and baking soda; add to egg and butter mixture and stir to combine.
  8. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, and stir just enough to combine well.
  9. Turn the batter into the pan and bake in the top third of the oven until firm and a cake tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
  10. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.


  1. In place of the applesauce, use 1 cup pureed persimmon, mixed with the baking soda as described. Applesauce made with quince or pear makes a more exotic cake.
  2. Omit the ginger and clove and half of the remaining spices to allow the more subtle flavor of the fruit to come through.
  3. May be served plain or drizzled with a powdered sugar glaze.
  4. The batter is also very good over an upside-down cake featuring apples or pears.


Bee said...

Anne, I'm so glad that you are taking a break! I'm sure that some good food and rest will cure what ails you.

Our food taste is so similar! I have an old recipe for "Johnny Applesauce" cupcakes -- my grandmother used to make them for me -- that sounds really similar to this. I'm going to try your version as soon as I get back into my kitchen.

As a side note, I've been really into homemade applesauce lately. I do love apple season.

Anne said...

I bet this batter would be excellent as individual cupcakes or muffins. Good idea! Perhaps I'll do that next time.

Isn't apple season lovely? There is truly no substitute for homemade applesauce. I'm thinking about making a crisp this week, and stuffed baked apples for breakfast on Saturday.