From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Curious Recipe for Applesauce Cake

All In The Family...



While my brother was visiting, I baked a country birthday cake for him -- an applesauce spice cake with cream cheese frosting and walnuts sprinkled over the top. We ate it with vanilla ice cream and it was delicious.

Dwight's birthday is not until August 9 so the cake was a few weeks early. The surprised look on his face when he realized we were singing "Happy Birthday" to him was just great.

He will be 60 this birthday. I will be 55 at the end of September, and ten days later, my sister will turn 50. This set of birthdays is something of a milestone for the three "Hill kids".

Back to applesauce cake. I have a paperback cookbook titled, "Signature Collection Country Music Cookbook," that I bought for the large sum of $2.00 in a Nashville tourist shop. I was looking through it a few days ago and found an odd little recipe for applesauce cake baked in fruit jars. It was contributed by Tom Swatzell (master of the dobro, now deceased) who is wearing three finger picks in his photo.

Here's the recipe, rewritten for clarity:

Fruit Jar Applesauce Cake

Ingredients
2/3 cup vegetable oil or shortening
2-2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups applesauce
3-1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspooons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions
Prepare 8 wide-mouth pint canning jars by washing them thoroughly, drying them, and then greasing the inside of the jars, taking care not to get grease on the lips of the jars.

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and applesauce (and another 2/3 cup of sugar according to the recipe??? -- not sure, but I wonder if it's a typo.) Beat well. Sift the dry ingredients together, add to the applesauce mixture and blend well. Stir in the chopped nuts.

Pour batter into the prepared wide-mouth jars, filling each jar halfway. Wipe any dripped batter off the rims of the jars. Bake at 325° for about 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes before the cakes are done, heat a pan of water to the boiling point, turn off the heat, and place 8 canning jar lids (rings and flats) in the water.

When the cakes test done, remove one jar from the oven at a time. With a clean, damp cloth, wipe the rim of the jar. Place a hot lid on the jar and screw it down tight. Jars will seal as the cake cools.

If any jars do not seal, use the cake within a few days. Sealed jars may be kept up on the pantry shelf up to six months.

To use, remove the lid, turn the jar upside down and tap out the cake. Slice into rounds and enjoy.

My Comments
I'd probably try to use the cake within a few weeks, and personally, I would freeze the jars for long-term storage.

The heat of the oven should sterilize the jars and the lids will be sterilized in the boiling water. Food safety specialists would probably add that the jars should be processed in a boiling water bath after the lids were put on. They might also say the recipe is not acidic enough to rely on canning as a method of preservation.

Still, I am sure that this recipe was used and enjoyed without any problems in Tom Swatzell's family, or he wouldn't have put it in the cookbook.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.