Applesauce-Cranberry Spice Cake
A sprig of holly really dresses up this satisfying spice cake. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream with a splash of bourbon and a dash of cinnamon if you believe more is more. If you don’t want to fuss with the cooked brown sugar glaze, simply combine 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar, 4 to 5 teaspoons of cream or milk, and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla and stir until smooth. Drizzle over the cake as directed.
- For the cake:
- Vegetable shortening, for greasing the pan
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring the pan
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins
- 1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- For the glaze:
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
Thoroughly grease the inside of a decorative 9-inch bundt pan. (Other pans can be used, but you may have to adjust the baking time.) Dust it with flour, making sure to cover all surfaces. Turn the pan upside down over a sink or wastebasket and tap several times to release any excess flour. Set aside.
On a large piece of wax paper, sift together the 3 cups of flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar using a medium-high speed until it is light-colored and fluffy. Add the molasses, vanilla, and applesauce and beat them in on medium speed.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and put into a resealable plastic bag. Add the cranberries and walnuts, seal, and toss to coat. (The flour keeps the fruit and nuts from sinking to the bottom of the cake as it bakes.) Add the remaining flour mixture to the butter-applesauce mixture and beat on low speed until combined. By hand, stir in the cranberries and walnuts. Tip the batter into the prepared pan. Tap to remove any air bubbles.
In the meantime, start the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 325 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Bake the cake until a bamboo skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out clean, i.e., no raw batter or crumbs clinging to it, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let the cake cool, still in the pan, for 30 minutes. Then lay a second cooling rack on top of the cake and invert, holding the cooling rack firmly against the cake, to release. Let cool completely, then transfer to a plate or cake stand.
While the cake cools, make the glaze: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before pouring over the cooled cake so that it runs decoratively down the sides.