When I make things with an apple flavor, I typically reach for whole apples and either cut them into pieces or grate them to get them down to size before incorporating them into a recipe. Applesauce is a pantry staple that I almost always have on hand, but don’t usually think of reaching for when I want an apple flavor. Applesauce lends a milder apple flavor than a piece of apple because it has a bit more moisture in it and no (or few) chunks of apple where the flavor is concentrated. It still has a nice apple flavor, however, and it is easy to work with and can add a lot of moisture to a recipe.
These Applesauce Drop Scones may seen like an unlikely place to see applesauce. Many scones are on the drier side, while these are a bit softer, moister and a little cakier. There are some chopped walnuts thrown in for crunch, too. The applesauce definitely contributes to the moistness in these scones, and it also adds that nice apple flavor. I highlighted the apple by adding in spices that are usually featured in apple cider – cinnamon and allspice – which gives the scones a nice cidery-note and an autumn feel. They’re also very easy to make and taste delicious when served warm with some apple butter.
This dough is soft, which is why I opted to make drop scones with the dough. Drop scones are made much like drop cookies, where the dough is placed on the baking sheet in rounds, rather than rolled and cut into shape. Take care not to overbake these, or the soft scones could dry out a bit too much during baking.
This Applesauce Oatmeal Bundt Cake is a favorite cake of mine when the weather is still a little bit chilly, because the cake seems very homey and satisfying, the perfect thing for enjoying on a cool morning without any fuss or fanfare. The cake contains applesauce, rolled oats and honey – all of which work well together – as well as some cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg that serve to highlight the fruity applesauce.
Applesauce adds both moisture and flavor to this cake, and stands as its own ingredient (not a replacement for something else). Applesauce is easy to work with because it doesn’t need to be chopped, blended or grated, but it delivers a lot of fresh apple flavor. I recommend using plain applesauce, although a chunky applesauce with big pieces of apple in it can be a very nice addition to the cake, too. The oatmeal also adds a lot of flavor to this cake, just as it does to a batch of oatmeal cookies. You can use whole rolled oats for the most distinct oat flavor, but quick cooking oats will give the cake a slightly finer texture if you have that type of oatmeal and prefer to use it. Both will give you a great cake, and I tend to use what I have on hand (the cake pictured uses rolled oats).
This cake is not too sweet and, while it could be topped with some cream cheese frosting and served for dessert, it is an excellent breakfast or snack cake. If you leave off the frosting, you can even toast a slice and serve it spread with a little bit of butter or some confectioners’ sugar. The cake keeps well when stored in an airtight container, but the fact that it holds up to toasting means that you can “refresh” a slice of cake to enjoy with a cup of tea even many days after baking.
Applesauce is a slightly misunderstood ingredient in baking these days. It is often described as a “fat replacer” when it is no such thing. Applesauce is a semi-solid ingredient (basically a liquid, since it doesn’t fall into the dry ingredient category) that can add moisture to some types of baked goods. It helps out in lower fat treats because it can prevent, or at least mitigate, dryness, and it has a very mild flavor so it usually isn’t very noticeable. By itself, it doesn’t tenderize baked goods like oil and butter do, so recipes where people have gone overboard with the substitution of fat for applesauce often turn out gummy and sticky.
This isn’t to say that applesauce doesn’t have a place in baking. The way that it adds moisture is not just because of the apple juice portion of the sauce. It comes from all those little bits of apple that spread out in a cake or cookie dough and release moisture over time. This can actually help keep a baked good fresh-tasting, if you don’t go overboard with it. This Applesauce Chocolate Layer Cake is a perfect example of a good use of applesauce. It doesn’t “replace” anything in this recipe, it just serves its own purpose. The applesauce is used as the main liquid in the recipe, where other cakes might use milk or sour cream, and it works out beautifully. It also helps to making the cake a good choice for those who prefer their cakes to be dairy-free. This recipe comes from the LCBO magazine and is available online, although my copy was thoughtfully clipped out and mailed to me by a chocolate cake-loving friend.
This cake is moist and fluffy, with a very good chocolate flavor – more dark chocolate than milk chocolate. The unsweetened applesauce and unsweetened cocoa powder keep the cake from being too sweet, in spite of the fact that there is a fair amount of sugar in it (less than some chocolate cakes I’ve made, however). The fluffiness comes from the applesauce and from the fact that the egg whites are separated, beaten to soft peaks and folded into the batter. You can use any kind of frosting you like for this cake. Chocolate frosting is good if you’re trying to please a crowd of chocolate lovers, and vanilla is good for contrast. If you want to stick with the dairy-free aspect, use a meringue or marshmallow-based frosting.