I am a total sucker for any baked good that can be justified not only for dessert, but also as a snack and especially for breakfast. Give me a cake that I can call breakfast, and I’ll make it again and again and again. If something is a “snack cake”, “coffee cake”, “crumb cake” or anything of the like, you better believe that I’m going to eat it for breakfast. Applesauce snack cake definitely fits the bill, plus it is total fall comfort food. I have had enormous success baking with applesauce in the past (Apple-Pecan Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Filling & Praline Frosting and Apple Cinnamon Bread are two of my favorite recipes), and this cake was no exception. Apples, spices, streusel… what could be better?!
This cake has quite a few more preparation steps than I anticipated, but they are all very well worth it. Most quick breads and snack cakes involve a simple one (or two, max) bowl approach with whisking and folding to incorporate ingredients. Instead of using fresh apples, this cake utilizes dried apples that are reduced with apple cider for enhanced flavor, then pureed with applesauce. This technique ensures an extremely moist cake packed with apple flavor that does not suffer from air pockets that fresh apples can sometimes cause.
If you’re a cake-for-breakfast type of person, this applesauce snack cake will be right up your alley. There are oats in the streusel filling, so it’s totally a legitimate breakfast food. You could also serve it with ice cream for dessert and go the traditional route 😉
An incredibly moist applesauce spice cake topped with a pecan-oat streusel.
¾ cup (2 ounces) dried apples, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup apple cider
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
⅔ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
⅓ cup chopped pecans
⅓ cup old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened applesauce, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, allowing the excess to hang over the edges of the pan; set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the dried apples and apple cider to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to cook until the liquid evaporates and the mixture appears dry, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside.
4. In another small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
5. Measure 2 tablespoons of the sugar-spice mixture into another small bowl and stir in the brown sugar, pecans and oats. Add the softened butter and rub the mixture between fingers until the butter has been fully incorporated; set aside.
6. In a food processor, process the cooled dried apple mixture and applesauce until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed; set aside.
7. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and salt. Add the sugar-spice mixture and whisk continuously until well-combined and light colored, about 20 seconds. Add the melted butter in three additions, whisking to combine after each. Add the applesauce mixture and vanilla extract, and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold until just combined and evenly moistened.
8. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top into an even layer. Pinch the reserved streusel mixture into hazelnut-sized clumps and sprinkle evenly over the batter. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Remove the cake from the pan by lifting the parchment overhang and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares and serve. The cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.