I've had this recipe for years. I can't even remember where I got it, but it's one of my favorites, and so simple.
It reminds me of Grandma Compton who used to live two houses down from my family when we lived in Manassas. She had a small orchard in back of her house, and every year she made applesauce. She would come up the street with a big gray enamel kettle of it, and give it to my mother for "all your little children." Her applesauce was dark and spicy, and to this day I can remember its smell as Mom poured it from the kettle into bowls on the white enamel-topped kitchen table.
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup melted butter or canola oil
2 cups applesauce (I use my home-canned, but the storebought type works just as well. Nuts are optional.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the raisins, butter or oil, applesauce and nuts. Beat until well-blended. Pour into a greased 9" square pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (I made it in a 10X14 pan today, and baked for about 20-25 minutes. I think I like this thickness better).
The finished product.
I have frosted it before with cream cheese icing, but I prefer the cake plain so its spicy flavor comes through clearly.
This recipe can also be used to make muffins. What's interesting to me: no eggs!
Hope springs eternal, as Alexander Pope said. This is a photo of the sticks I cut today--japonica (or flowering quince), forsythia and bridal wreath spirea. In a week or so, perhaps I'll have flowers blooming on my table. (The bluebird was made by Mike Tillinghast, co-owner of Rachel's Relics antique store).
I do this every year, about the same time as I begin talking to my husband about getting the lettuce bed dug up and ready to be burned off. Perhaps it will be an early spring, since I seem to be doing these things earlier than usual.
Last year I felt pretty sure it was going to be a bad gardening year. The hunch provd correct as the drought lasted into the fall, but even so we had a decent garden.
This year we're building another greenhouse and we've plowed up twice as much garden space as we planted last year. Is that a sign, or just unfounded optimism? At this point it's hard to tell, but I'll take it for a sign right now and keep planning.
Somehow, buried beneath all the layers of extraneous modern life, there is some primeval scent that reminds us to dig, plow, plant. It reaches through the layers, grabs the mind and sets in motion the annual urge to garden.