From the kitchen of Tracy Leddy, Nantucket
Back in the early 1970s, friends who ran a cross-country ski lodge in central New Hampshire used to order several of my friend Alice O'Leary's spice cakes at a time from me to serve their guests for tea, dessert, and even for breakfast. (They always ordered the unfrosted version.)
The cake is moist and flavorful, and keeps quite well. It can be made with equivalent amounts of bananas, carrots, or pumpkin instead of applesauce, but applesauce was always the favorite. I have been serving this cake to friends and family for almost four decades!
Mix together in a large bowl:
3 1/3 cups whole wheat flour (or part unbleached white flour)
1 1/2 cups raw sugar (or part brown sugar)
2 tsp baking soda1 tsp salt
2 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
2 cups buttermilk or sour milk (made by adding 2 TBSP cider vinegar to sweet milk)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup applesauce (homemade is best)
1 cup chopped dates, or raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts, or pecans
Stir well, but not excessively. Turn the batter into a large, buttered, tube pan. Dust the surface with raw sugar if you are not frosting the cake. Bake at 325° for about 1 1/4 hour. Use a cake tester to check for doneness. Cool on a rack out of the pan for at least an hour before trying to frost it or cut it. This cake, unfrosted, freezes well.
Your favorite cream cheese frosting, plus a dusting with confectioner's sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon drops makes a party cake.
NOTE: Half the recipe makes 13 cupcakes. Bake at 350° for 25-35 minutes. Half the recipe also makes a small bundt pan cake. Bake at 350 degrees and check for doneness after 50 minutes.