It’s my birthday today 🙂 However, I needed to sneak in this post because I miss connecting with you all! After I’m done this, I’m gonna eat more of my cake. Yum…. ok on with the post!
It only seems fair that I balance the scales with a Chinese New Years cake on my mom’s side of the family. There was quite a large crowd to feed (20 hungry individuals).. and in hindsight, I definitely should have made 2 cakes. However, how was I to know everyone had a sweet toothed craving to satisfy that particular evening? Most of the time, my gi-normous cakes and respective portion sizes are too much for the adults to finish by themselves (especially after a 4 hour-long banquet meal). Typically, they forego their own individual slice and opt to sharing– leaving plenty of leftovers for the youngsters. Not this time though.
I think the real winner here was the element of subtlety in this cake as well as the ingenious layering of flavours. Reminiscent of the texture of soft gingerbread (but with a slightly different flavour profile), the applesauce gives the cake body and lends a haunting sweetness; it is furthered enhanced by peppery cardamom, fiery sweet cinnamon, and pungent cloves. The kicker is the freshly ground pepper. You don’t taste it but your taste buds will be springing to life after one bite, and you’ll wonder what the magic ingredient was dancing on your tongue.
Did I mention that this cake is also fail proof– and dead easy to make?
I should mention that with this dark tanned toned cake, the applesauce is not the only catalyst in keeping this dessert so ridiculously moist (it has the softest crumb that is meltingly tender– almost verging on damp sticky toffee pudding territory). It’s also the smart combination of using half oil and half butter in the batter. The former is used to retain moisture and the latter used for flavour.
Eaten while it is still warm, the glistening chocolate chips melt on your tongue, and play off the spices beautifully. Eaten at room temperature, the cake takes on a more sturdy pound cake texture and the chips lend a crunchy bite within the cake.(But do not eat it fridge cold; the flavours will be muted). I highly recommend using dark chocolate chips with a minimum of 60% cocoa content. It gives the cake a more respected and mature taste.
While it wasn’t included, I had to coat the top with an ethereal light frosting that I fashioned out of some whipped butter, cream cheese, honey, cardamom, and cinnamon.
Funny enough, I almost… just almost, didn’t have a desire to make this. Why? Well, it was so *yawn* on paper. However it was filed as a ‘staff favourite’ by the Food and Wine Kitchen Staff. Ok, THEN my interest was piqued. Why a favourite? And really? Humble applesauce could make F&W swoon? Apparently… it’s a resounding, “Hells Yes”.
Make this! That is all. Oh and my jazz and comments/suggestions are in Russian (I kid, just checking to see if you were still paying attention)… they’re in English and italic typeface.
Applesauce-Chocolate Chip Bundt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt (used 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
One 12-ounce bag semisweet-chocolate chips (used Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips with 60% cocoa content)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (made a cardamom-cinnamon frosting instead)
Crème fraîche, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350° (if you’re using a dark bundt pan, lower the temperature to 325F). Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cloves and pepper. Whisk in the applesauce, eggs, oil and melted butter. Fold in the chocolate chips. (to prevent the chips from sinking to the bottom of the cake, take some of the flour you’re using to make the cake with– about 1/3 cup– and toss the chips with them. Then add them to the batter.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan (put my pan on a baking sheet before I put it into the oven). Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. (mine was done in 60 minutes).
Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes (mixed this. After testing it with a toothpick, it was done, and I released it from its mold after 3-5 minutes. The longer it stays in the hot pan, the more it will continue to cook), then invert it onto the rack and let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake, slice and serve with crème fraîche.
Note: The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If your house is very warm, store in a cake caddy or wrap well in plastic and put in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature before eating (this will take 2-3 hours).
Yield: 12 servings