Recession Cake is my new name for this recipe I developed years ago after a discussion with my Aunt Irene about an old recipe she had from the time of the Great Depression. Of course, I could never have served anything called Depression Cake to my parents. It was kind of a sore subject when I was growing up.
As a child, I dreaded anyone mentioning The Depression. Even though it was ancient history long before my time, it still had a grip on my father. If anyone mentioned the subject and my mother joined in the conversation at all, my father (whose experience had been so much worse) would feel compelled to jump in and tell her (and everyone within range) that she didn't know anything about it! The way that vein popped up on his face, I was always afraid he was going to have a stroke or something! Anyway ... back to the cake ...
Milk, butter, eggs and sugar were hard to come by for many people during those years. Homemakers learned to bake with smaller amounts, or even none, of those ingredients. Raisins and apples were often used to make up for some of the sugar. They came to be called depression cakes. Talk about comfort food--the most basic cake must have been a real treat.
Starting with my aunt's recipe, I experimented with the concept until I came up with a recipe that had the lightness of a cake made with eggs. I make it with all organic ingredients and serve it to everyone, not just vegans, no explanations necessary--it "passes" easily for a "regular" cake! Of course, back then they didn't have organic canola oil and would have used solid shortening or so-called vegetable oil.
It's delicious plain, and a mere dusting of powdered sugar is pretty enough, but I like to serve it with a little organic whipped cream. After all, this is only the Great Recession, not the Great Depression! I'd love to hear your comments on the cake, that era, vegan cooking, your parents' favorite recurring arguments, whatever!
Vegan Applesauce Spice Cake AKA Recession Cake
(Makes one 10-inch round layer)
2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces/198 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup raisins OR 3/4 cup raisins and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce (I use Santa Cruz Organic)
1/2 cup organic canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla, optional
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease well and lightly flour one 10-inch round pan (or one 9-inch, not 8-inch, square pan).
2 In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, soda, salt and spices. Stir in the raisins and walnuts, separating the raisins. Add the applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Blend well. No electric mixer needed.
3 Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until it tests done.
4 Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack for an hour.