snow day baking: applesauce cake

Over the weekend I wrote about a little vintage recipe box with recipes in it that I bought. Another thing I bought was a vintage aluminum 9″ Mirro clampless side pin release spring form pan. (Model 1359 M if you are interested.)

The pan looks like this:

The little side pin just slides on and locks into place. The pin is an easy piece to lose, so the spring form pans I usually see around have a latch. I hadn’t seen one with a pin intact for years. Needless to say that made me psyched to find this pan, which was completely in round and in perfect working order.

Yesterday in a fit of pre-snow domesticity that included a batch of chili for later this week, I decided to bake.

In my little recipe box there is indeed a recipe for applesauce cake, but the one I am sharing is my own recipe that I use. My mother and grandmother used to make applesauce cake all of the time, so this was basically the recipe they used but I tweaked it to my liking.

My mother and grandmother used to bake their applesauce cake and a 13″ x 9″ rectangular pan. I like the tube pan better for simple cakes like this. Besides, it looks prettier for the presentation of it all. (Yes, sometimes I have to let my inner Martha Stewart shine absurdly.)

The vintage Fiestaware round platter in the photo I already owned. A few years ago I swapped out all of my “every day china” for vintage Fiestaware. I don’t know what it is about the dishes but they make me happy. Probably the colors.

However like any other vintage plate, I never ever put it in the microwave. In the case of the Fiestaware it also has to do with the old glazes. (Check out this article from Smithsonian and The Spruce.) Old plates were designed pre-microwave and pre-dishwasher.

My Fiestaware is fine in the dishwasher, although sometimes I just hand wash it. Other old plates I have like Limoge never, ever go in the microwave or dishwasher because of the glazes and the metallic gold leaf touches. But having to do a few dishes by hand never hurt anybody.

However this post is not a primer on vintage dishes is it? It’s about the applesauce cake. (Yum)

I will note that yesterday this cake took 50 to 55 minutes to bake. So once you hit the 45 minute mark you have to keep an eye on it depending on your oven.

(And yesterday, shhhh don’t tell I didn’t have applesauce but I did have homemade apple butter I had made. And what is apple butter except more cooked down applesauce, right?)

And here is your hack for flouring and greasing a pan. Depending on what kind of a cake it is sometimes instead of dusting with flour if it’s a chocolate cake for example, I will grease the pan and dust with unsweetened Cocoa. Or I will dust with almond meal otherwise known as ground almonds. But for a cake like this, I am just going to dust with flour but I prefer the flour you use when making a roux: Wondra.

Wondra is super fine. That’s what makes it quick mixing for a roux or a gravy. That’s what makes it ideal in my opinion when you have to grease and flour a baking pan. I sometimes use it for dredging meat to brown for a stew.

But again, sorry, I got off track. Here is the recipe:

Applesauce Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted but slightly cooled

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

2 cups applesauce

1/2 cup white raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts

Powdered sugar to dust cake when cool

• Preheat oven to 350°F degrees

• In a big bowl whisk white sugar, brown sugar and mix well.

• Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla, then mix until well blended and fluffy.

• Add to the creamed mixture salt, spices, baking powder, baking soda, then the applesauce. Add the flour.

• Finally fold in the raisins and walnuts.

• Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan and bake until firm to the touch, about 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then pop it out of the pan and dust with powdered sugar.

lloyd farmhouse STILL not secured! caln township are you listening?

My friend Robin Ashby sent me some entirely too heartbreaking photos from Lloyd Farm. This is what he had to say to people about a visit there this weekend:

Historic Stewardship involves documenting a site before it becomes the next High Density housing project, raising awareness and speaking out – Nestled in Downingtown is a parcel dating back to Penn’s Land Grant Charter of the late 1600s. The ruins of the barn and outbuildings are stunning examples of stonework using Downingtown Blue Limestone from 1800 -1940, overgrown formal gardens in which one finds one of the largest (and oldest) Japanese Maples in Pennsylvania sit waiting to be brought back to life. The farmhouse is circa 1795 and is rapidly disintegrating, but has 8+ bedrooms and beautiful architectural elements.

This will shortly become high rise, high density commercial/residential housing for 1000+ new residents. The fields will be gone, the fox, deer and birds will find other habitat.

Of course, we have the ability to speak up and say that this doesn’t have to happen quite like this. Caln Township will discuss this project on February 12 at their meeting, DAHS (Downingtown Area Historical Society) suggests that you attend and listen.

What in the hell is wrong with Caln Township and whomever the developer is? Literally a week ago I wrote about this as then people were also inside the historic farmhouse on thr property because it was wide open and not properly secured.

It’s like someone doesn’t want this farmhouse to survive do they?

Japanese Maples are among my favorite trees! And who knew this property had the oldest one? Or had at one time such fabulous gardens? Who has old garden photos to share???

Here is the info on the upcoming meeting:

And again, many thanks to Robin Ashby for the photos. Here are some more:

old linens.

I have a definite weakness for old, vintage, and antique linens. Today I stumbled across a bunch of beautiful heavy cotton pillow cases with the hand done crochet tatting at the edges of each pillow case.

This is what the hand tatting/crocheting looks like:

The pillowcases are in perfect condition with no holes or split seams. They have yellowed with age and that is why I have them soaking and what I use for almost all of my old linens- Restoration.

I have spoken about this product before. Restoration is by Engleside Products. I used to use Biz and other things, but this is far superior and gets out more stains than I’ve ever seen with any other product.

I will soak these pillowcases in Restoration overnight and then rinse well and possibly wash again in Woolite and then dry on a drying rack.

These pillowcases will need to be ironed but they’re lovely. And a good tip for when you are ironing old linens is to do it on the reverse with a colorfast towel in between you and your vintage/old/antique linens. And I know how awesome these are going to be once the yellowing lifts off them.

I really like the feel of old crisp pillowcases. Old linens are just the best. People think that they are off-limits because they either shouldn’t be used because they’re old, or or too difficult to use because they’re old.

It’s like your old china and silver and glassware – who are you saving it for ? Use these vintage things. Use these antique things. They were meant to live not live like they are in a museum in your blanket chest or china cabinet or linen closet.

I like my old stuff, and I use it. I have also written before about vintage quilts.

When I pick these pillowcases up they are never too dear in price and don’t be afraid to ask for a better price from a dealer. I use them and when they wear out I often give them to people that work with textiles to give them a second life in something else.

The picture at the bottom of this post is one I found on the Internet of pillowcases someone else had that they were selling on eBay. I just want you to have an idea of what I bought looks like since all you see is them soaking in the sink. The pillow cases I have soaking have triangular edged tatting.

Thanks for stopping by.

reaffirming the gratitude jar

I have mentioned for years now that I have a gratitude jar. I had read about it a few years ago and it was just a simple thing to make us as human beings focus on the positives and the good things in our lives.

Sometimes when a bunch of negative things happen all in a row, it’s hard to stay positive. I find it hard to stay positive because I do not think by my very nature I am naturally positive. I have to work at it.

I think positive for me has been learned behavior, and it’s something I have to relearn and reaffirm again and again. Hopefully, someday it will be second nature to me.

A quote I found on another blogger’s post about gratitude jars is something I would like to share:

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

I think that’s a pretty powerful statement. In the instant gratification social media-centric world in which we live, this quote which is pretty damn old is still current, isn’t it?

Lao Tzu was known as the father of Taoism. Mind you, many modern writers feel this is NOT a real person at all, but a legendary figure whose writings were actually created by many different people. And yes I got off on a tangent, so back to the gratitude jar.

Having a gratitude jar is a simple reminder that life is not all bad or all difficult. Having a gratitude jar helps you focus on the things that are wonderful in your life. Even every day little things are wonderful.

Having a gratitude jar helps us reaffirm the many positives in our life. Life can be hard. I am not trying to be Pollyanna and say everything is always wonderful with fuzzy caterpillars that turn into magical butterflies. I am more of a realist than that.

I just think we live in a completely crazy world at times and a simple thing like a gratitude jar is a great way to keep us honest and keep us thankful and keep us grateful.

Here is an old post from girls on the run on how to make a gratitude jar with your children (click on the hyperlink).

Some people empty their gratitude jars on an annual basis and re-read everything at the end of the old year or beginning of the new year. I don’t do that. I intermittently check out what I have written in the past and add a new note to the jar. I don’t add notes every day. Sometimes I go quite a while without adding anything. This morning I added two notes.

I will close with something I learned as a small child while attending Saint Peter’s School in Philadelphia. We used to learn songs seasonally for lack of a better description, and in the fall around harvest time or what would’ve been harvest time since we were at school in the middle of Society Hill, we used to sing a song called Simple Gifts. It was a Shaker song / hymn written by a Shaker Elder named Joseph Brackett in the 1840s.

Even Yo Yo Ma has recorded a version of it. It’s a classic in my opinion and it’s very beautiful. And I am not a particularly religious person although I have my faith.

The song was largely unknown outside of Shaker communities until the composer Aaron Copland used its melody for the score of Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring (Shakers once worshipped on Holy Mount, in the Appalachians), first performed in 1944.

Mr. Copland also reportedly used “Simple Gifts” a second time in his first set of “Old American Songs for voice and piano”, which was later orchestrated

Here are the lyrics and thanks for stopping by:

Simple Gifts Lyrics

Joseph Brackett (1797 – 1882)

(Shaker dancing song)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

  ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,

  To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

  Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.