World War II Applesauce Cake

One of the dessert recipes that turns up frequently in my cook books from the first half of the 20th century is Applesauce Cake. The fad for this cake began during rationing in World War I and its popularity peaked in World War II. Once rationing was no longer needed, the cake faded from the cook books until the diet craze of the 1970s brought the recipe back into the lime light.

Basically a spiced quick bread, the cake is super easy to make. I decided to try a recipe from an obscure community cook book that is near and dear to my heart, Favorite Recipes: Ticonderoga, NY. Dated 1942 this cook book was created by the ladies of the First Congregational Church of Ticonderoga with recipes “contributed by good cooks of the community.”

Ticonderoga, NY Community Cook Book

Why is this book so special to me? Because Dan and I lived in Ticonderoga for five years while I worked at Fort Ticonderoga. Many of the cooks are no doubt relatives of Fort Ticonderoga staff members – Trombleys, Beldens, and Barbers. If fact I chose to make Mrs. M.S. Belden’s Apple Sauce Cake. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 shortening (I used butter)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in a little hot water
  • 1 c. applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1 c. flour

The batter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees

Cream the shortening and sugar

Sift dry ingredients together

Blend shortening and sugar with the applesauce and dissolved baking soda

Add flour and raisins

Bake in a loaf pan for 55 minutes

Oh heaven! The cake is super moist and tastes like a dense spice cake. Dan and I both love it. In fact I’m devouring a piece as I write this. While this cake may have been designed for rationing – which implies bleak doing without – there is nothing bleak about this divine piece of dessert.  As usual, I hope you make it and enjoy this piece of history. 

2 Responses to “World War II Applesauce Cake”

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  1. Louise says:

    Hi Lisa!!!

    I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to discover your blog. It boggles my mind that I have never landed here before!!!

    I too have a kindred heart for the cooking days of yore. I share many of my cookbooks on my blog while trying to add tidbits of history for dessert.

    I stumbled upon your blog while in search of recipes for National Applesauce Cake Day celebrated on June 6th. Since June 6th is also D-Day, I’m thrilled to learn of the relationship between the history of the cake and both wars.

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and its historical value. I am putting your blog link in my side-bar so I remember to drop by more often. Thank you again, Louise

  2. Cynthia says:

    This recipe dates back to the 19th century and was a family favorite. My great grandmother, my grandmother and my mother made this cake over a span of a hundred years. Its a great recipe and worth the small effort it takes to prepare it. We always served it with hard sauce. Its utterly yummy. I was searching the internet for something else, an old recipe for apple brown betty and found this by chance. Ahhh, what memories.

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