Applesauce cake: Raisins or no raisins.
Whichever way you like, Applesauce Cake is a winner at any family, church, or community dinner. It’s one of those classic desserts that emits strong pleasant memories of extended family gatherings and picnic suppers. It’s easy to prepare and actually tastes better the next day, the perfect make ahead dessert when you need to fit in food prep for a group gathering to your already stuffed schedule. Best known with a yummy cream cheese frosting, I dare to be different and top it with a penuche (caramel) frosting.
Just as you would do for your own family, it’s important to take into consideration your group’s likes and dislikes, allergies, and health needs. As I started to make Applesauce Cake for a recent church women’s potluck, my hand paused at my open cupboard. I like raisins in Applesauce Cake, but would others? A quick survey on Facebook revealed that most people don’t care for raisins in cake!
If I’m cooking for a crowd, does that mean I should always cater to the preferences of others?
One Facebook friend suggested I make two cakes; one with raisins, one without. I suppose then I should make one with walnuts and one without because there are people who don’t like nuts. This was a group of 10 women. Four cakes? I don’t think so. We can carry the making food to please others a bit too far. I’m sure my friend made that comment in jest. Right?
When should you cater to the preferences or health needs of your group?
The Bible tells us that we do need to honor others above ourselves. I would be failing to put others first if I put those raisins in just because I like and I thought everyone else should like them too. We’re not going there, are we? But we can’t go to the other extreme either of allowing one person’s dislike to sway the decision for everyone. How do you strike a balance when you cook for a group?
Here’s what I decided. Leave the raisins if:
- You know there will be several other desserts so people who don’t care for raisins have other options.
- You know for a certainty most people in your group do like raisins.
- You are able to divide the cake into two small pans, stirring raisins into one half and no raisins in the other half. If someone in your group is truly allergic to raisins, consider dipping out batter to make one or two cupcakes before adding the raisins.
- You yourself don’t like raisins and there is a good chance you’ll come home with leftovers.
Don’t overthink people’s preference. Raisins are easy. People can pick them out or choose not to eat the cake. And, unlike the rest of the meal, it’s dessert. Dessert is an option, not an essential.
Raisins, no raisins; nuts or no nuts, Applesauce Cake is still a great cake. Like any recipe you make for your large group parties, make it once, gauge the group’s response, note that on your recipe card, and adapt accordingly the next time. And if you have leftovers, do what I did. Freeze pieces in individual freezer backs and sneak a piece now and then!
Disclaimer: The cake recipe is from my Betty Crocker Cookbook and the Penuche Frosting is from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Sorry! No family recipe this time.
- 2 1/2 cups flour (part whole wheat)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9×13-inch pan. Beat all ingredients except raisins and nuts on low speed with electric mixer for 30 seconds. Beaton medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in raisins and nuts (optional.)
- Pour into pan. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes.
- Penuche Frosting: In saucepan, melt 1 stick margarine; stir in 1 cup brown sugar. Cook and stir till bubbly. Remove from the heat. Add 1/4 cup milk; beat vigorously till smooth. Add 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until smooth. Add and beat in sugar until of spreading consistency. Immediately frost top of cake. Top with finely chopped walnuts.