This tasty applesauce cake was made using a recipe from Robin Hood Flour, with a few tweaks by the author. Courtesy of Sandy Oliver Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver

Bobbie Lehigh of Eastport wrote a few weeks ago saying, “I am without an excellent applesauce cake recipe.” She lost the Robin Hood Flour applesauce cake recipe that she used to have and, she reported, “None of the cookbooks I live among has a recipe that looks a bit like it.”

Ruth Thurston in Machias and her daughter Elizabeth poked around on the Robin Hood website, and sent me a link to the applesauce cake recipe they found there. Now I have to admit that turning to a company’s website isn’t the first thing I think of, the cause of that being my age. It stands to reason that the Canadian Robin Hood Flour company would have a website these days, and an applesauce cake recipe on it, especially one they’d already printed on a package.

So I tried the recipe out. It is very good, certainly better by far than one I’ve used for years. And I’ll make it again.

Understandably, companies like Robin Hood really appreciate it when you reprint their recipes exactly as they were written and credit them with it. The recipe you see below is just that.

But, you know, I tinker. The recipe called for “shortening.” I don’t use hydrogenated vegetable shortening at all anymore if I can possibly help it. So I substituted butter. When I got to the one-quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, I thought, is that all? I increased it to one teaspoon.

Since I make my own applesauce, getting unsweetened is easy. Obviously, you can buy prepared unsweetened applesauce or make your own. I use my mom’s old Foley food mill to remove the skins which I leave on so the sauce is a little pink from the apples’ red skins. Without a food mill, you can mush cooked apples through a sieve.

Because Robin Hood is owned by the same people who bring you Carnation Evaporated Milk, that’s what the icing portion of the recipe called for — fat-free, two-percent or regular. I thought, well, the fat-free evap isn’t going to compensate for the hydrogenated vegetable oil, and I buy store brand evaporated milk anyway. You should do whatever you wish about fat-free, skim, or whole milk, branded or unbranded.

I thought the caramel sauce wasn’t as wonderful as the cake itself. I tinkered with it and threw some vanilla extract at it, which helped. Give it a try as written and see what you think; personal taste being what it is, you might like it a lot.

Goodness knows the web is chock full of recipes, thousands of them. Some have comments from cooks who have tried them out and that’s helpful when you are deciding which one to use. Some of us have favorite cooking sites to turn to and so we search there for a recipe. All good. What I like is when one of this column’s readers tells me about a recipe that they like and know works. It’s getting a recipe from a trusted friend.

Apple Sauce Cake with Caramel Icing

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 cups Robin Hood All-Purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Caramel Icing

1/4 cup all vegetable shortening

2 teaspoons Robin Hood All Purpose Flour

1 cup light brown sugar

2/3 cup Carnation regular, 2 percent or fat-free evaporated milk

Walnut halves for garnish

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8 1/2- or 9-inch spring form pan. (I used a tube pan)

Beat shortening and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a separate large bowl.

Stir into shortening mixture alternating with applesauce, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of applesauce.

Fold in raisins and walnuts.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven about 60 to 65 minutes or until deep golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 20 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Caramel Icing:

Melt shortening over low heat in saucepan. Stir in flour for 1 minute.

Whisk in sugar and evaporated milk, whisking until melted and smooth. Bring to boil.

Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. Let cool 5 minutes.

Pour over cake letting excess drip down sides.

Garnish with walnut halves.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...