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Applesauce-Cocoa Cake

(recipe, Mollie Katzen)

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This is a moist, dark cake. If you choose to add the spices, the flavor will take on an air of mystery. It is almost a spice cake, understatedly chocolate, with a touch of orange, and all the luxurious qualities of an applesauce-nut cake. This recipe is minimally sweet, so if you prefer a sweeter dessert, you can increase the sugar to 2 cups or use sweetened applesauce.


  1. ¾ cup (1½ sticks) soft butter
  2. 1½ cups brown sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  5. ½ tsp. grated orange rind
  6. 3 cups unbleached white flour
  7. ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  8. ½ tsp. salt
  9. 2 tsp. baking powder
  10. 1 tsp. baking soda
  11. 1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  12. ½ tsp. allspice (optional)
  13. ¼ tsp. nutmeg (optional)
  14. 1 cup finely ground walnuts (use a food processor fitted with a steel blade or a blender, with brief spurts)
  15. 1½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  16. ½ cup yogurt or sour cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a standard-sized tube pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and orange rind. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients (including the optional spices or not). Stir them into the ground walnuts.
  5. In a third bowl, whisk together the applesauce and yogurt or sour cream until well blended.
  6. Add the dry mixture and the applesauce mixture alternately to the butter mixture (dry-wet-dry-wet). Stir just enough to blend after each addition.
  7. Turn the batter into the prepared tube pan. Bake 45 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees. The cake is done when a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean.