heirloom apple sauce spice cake.

Sometimes, it is necessary to dig into those old fashioned cookbooks. I like the ones with the simple covers and no photographs like Fanny Farmer or my grandmother's very worn and battered Joy Of Cooking. I was looking for a recipe for an applesauce cake, as these chilly spring mornings bring on the need for childhood comfort foods.

Strangely enough, as I opened the worn and battered blue Joy of Cooking an aged index card fell out. It was a recipe for an applesauce cake. It was in my writing and it was dated 1983. There many days when I sat down with my grandmother and attempted to record her recipes that were in her head, passed down from my Nonni, raised in Puglia and transplanted to the streets of Brooklyn and Long Island City. This index card did not represent one of those recipes; instead it most likely came from the pages of Ladies Home Journal or McCall’s Magazine. I looked in the index of the Joy Of Cooking and there was a recipe for an applesauce cake but it was different from the one on the card, so in an attempt to make my own mark, I have transformed it one step further. I omitted the allspice and the cinnamon and added ginger and heirloom applesauce as well as whole-wheat pastry flour. I finished it off by grating an apple and some fresh ginger on top.


Heirloom Applesauce Ginger Spice Cake





 Whole Wheat Pastry Flour


Baking soda

Baking powder


Ginger (both fresh and ground)



Cream one 1/2  cup butter with 1 cup of sugar

Add 1 egg and beat well

Add 1 cup of applesauce


Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl

2 cups of  whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg



Mix well and slowly add to wet mixture stirring until all combined


Grease a round cake tin

Add batter

Grate 1 small apple on top and a healthy dose of fresh ginger


Preheat oven to 350 degrees cook for 1 hr or until done.




sunday morning sleepover cake

This past Sunday morning I woke early thinking about what to make the gaggle of girls sleeping in Lula's room. The past few weekends we have been in a pancake rut. I thought about making an apple ginger cake but didn't have apples. After rummaging around I came up with a few pears and a whole lot of mint and basil left from last week's shoot. The combination of basil and pear sounded good to me, so I set out to make a cake. When the girls finally staggered out of Lula's room around noon the cake was waiting. I brewed them some  fresh mint tea and suddenly it was a perfect non-pancake breakfast for a perfectly gorgeous Sunday.

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Basil Pear Cake


2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup of light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

12-15 large basil leaves roughly torn

1/2 stick of  softened butter 

2  pears 

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 eggs


Sift the first 6 ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Add butter, grated pears, torn basil leaves, heavy cream and eggs. ( I grated one pear and used a mandolin on the other to change up the texture. Set aside 1/4 of the second pear to mandolin some slices for the top of the cake )

Mix for a minute by hand.

Turn the batter into a well greased and floured baking pan. I used a 7 inch round. Shave the remaining quarter of pear on the top of the cake.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350.


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