The traditional day-after-Christmas (or, Boxing Day as it is known in England) breakfast at my house is always a large wedge of applesauce cake. It’s my grandmother’s recipe, which I have (in my humble opinion) refined and improved on just a bit. I think it may be a wartime recipe, not sure, but the proportions of chocolate, sugar, butter and egg are relatively small and it relies heavily on the applesauce to sweeten it. The ingredients in this cake make sense – in those amounts, they’d be relatively easy to save up if you were rationing certain items. I am not sure, I never asked her but I reckon it dates from about then.
Here’s what you do:
1/4 lb butter (one stick) softened
1 c. sugar (grandma used white, I prefer to use a dark brown for the flavor)
1 c. golden raisins (Grandma soaked these in hot water. I soak them in a little boiling water and dark spiced rum – half of each, enough to cover the raisins. Do this first.)
1 c. applesauce (Grandma used the sweetened jarred stuff. I use unsweetened organic, OR, if I’ve been on my toes and thinking ahead, a homemade chunky applesauce will add a lovely element to this cake. I usually freeze a cup from our Thanksgiving batch of applesauce for this purpose. But unfortunately my container of carefully-frozen-ahead-for-this-recipe homemade applesauce totally died when our power went out for 4 days.)
1 tsp. soda dissolved in 2 TBS hot water
2 c. flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each of allspice, salt and nutmeg
Cream the butter and sugar. Add your egg and then the applesauce and mix well. Sift the dry ingredients (I actually never sift anything but if you have a sifter then go for it) and add to the butter mixture, mixing well. Before you add the last of the dry ingredients, add the soda/water. Add your raisins last, after draining them. This is important, soaking the raisins means they don’t suck the moisture from your cake as it bakes. It’s key for a nice moist cake. Put this batter into a greased bundt pan and bake for around 40 minutes.
Let this cool on a rack until ready to ice.
1/2 cube of room temp (soft) butter
2 c. powdered sugar
4 TBS strong, hot coffee (Grandma used instant because that’s what she drank. I use French pressed because that’s what I drink. Her icing had a stronger coffee flavor. Mine is more subtle and I keep meaning to get a little coffee extract to bump mine up a bit but I keep forgetting. Play around with it and see what you like.)
4 TBS cocoa powder (unsweetened – Grandma used Hershey’s cocoa, I use something single origin and schmancy, it really doesn’t matter, both are good)
cream the butter and powdered sugar together, while dissolving the cocoa powder in the hot coffee. Add the coffee/cocoa mixture to the powdered sugar and mix well. You can thin it with more coffee if you want a more glazed effect, I prefer it a little thicker like a true frosting consistency and that’s how Grandma made it too.
Eat for breakfast the day after Christmas, with lots of bacon. Also makes a dandy Christmas dinner dessert. Which is usually where we have it first, and why it’s leftover for Boxing Day.