This is a fabulous cake, I think, which I have enjoyed for special occasions forever. It is the one I wanted for my 40th birthday. A wonderful ending to any dinner, this cake is dressy enough for even the most regal occasions. An option would be to bake the cake ahead of time, freeze it, and frost it just before serving. To save additional time, toast the chopped walnuts for the cake while browning the Spiced Walnuts for the garnish.

Yield: Serves 12

Temperature: 375 F

Baking time: 35 minutes

Spicy Walnuts:

¾ cup walnut halves or large pieces

1 egg white

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Few grates fresh nutmeg


1 cup walnuts

12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter, plus 1 teaspoon for buttering pans

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar

1 large egg

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce

½ cup dried currants, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish

Creamy Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Prepare the Spiced Walnuts. Place the walnut halves in a shallow bowl. In another small bowl, beat the egg white until foamy, then add the remaining ingredients and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the walnut halves and carefully stir so as not to break the walnuts. Preheat the oven to 375F.

2. Place the spiced walnuts halves on al aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, separating them so they do not touch each other. Place the whole walnuts in a shallow ovenproof pan. Bake the spiced walnuts and whole walnuts until toasted, 10 minutes. Set aside the spiced walnuts until needed. Chop the toasted whole walnuts and set aside.

3. Prepare the cake: Butter the sides of the two 9-inch round cake pans, then cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom of each and line the pans.

4. Place the remaining butter in the large bowl of the electric mixer and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until completely incorporated. Add the egg and beat until fluffy again, about 1 more minute.

5. Combine the flour with spices, salt, and soda and stir to mix well. Add half of the flour mixture, then half the applesauce, and mix on low speed until well mixed, about 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining applesauce, mix again until completely incorporated, about 1 more minute. Add the chopped walnuts and currants and mix in. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

6. Place the cake pans on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake to loosen if from the pan and invert it into the wire racks to cool for an additional 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.

7. To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake plate and spread on third of the frosting on top. Place the second cake layer on the first and spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake.

8. Sprinkle the spiced walnuts in a ring about 1 inch from the edge of the cake. Scatter the remaining currants over the walnuts. Slice and enjoy

Creamy Frosting

This classic cream cheese frosting is especially good on moist cakes, such as carrot, zucchini, or the applesauce cake. It’s also good on cinnamon rolls. It can be made several days ahead and kept sealed in plastic container in the refrigerator, or for up to 6 months in the freezer.

Makes 4 to 5 cups

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

5 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably Mexican

1. Place the butter and cream cheese in a mixer bowl and mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.  Add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and combine on low speed until well mixed. Add the vanilla. Continue to add the confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition, until all the sugar is completely incorporated.

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Jane Butel Cooking School • Pecos Valley Spice Co. • Corrales, NM 87048  • Office: 505-243-2622  • | Jane Butel Home Page

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