How to Make: Apple Sauce Cake

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Welcome to Tenacious Genealogy! Today is Friday which means another historical recipe! Today I’m going to make a recipe from 1922 – Apple Sauce Cake. Not only is this a delicious cake on its own, but surprisingly, it’s also vegan/vegetarian! (If you make it with the frosting that is recommended – it’s no longer vegan, but the frosting is optional.)

So today, I was originally going to showcase a recipe called New Year’s Day Cookies – however when I got to the ingredients list… I realized that said recipe needed more prep time and larger amounts of ingredients than I could currently manage. (Who needs 10 cups of flour for a recipe???) So I went to my go-to website of historical recipes here and looked up a recipe that was both simple and needed only ingredients I already had on hand.

Lo and behold, I found the Woman’s World Calendar Cook Book with recipes for every month. In the January section was the recipe for Apple Sauce Cake. Which ended up being more delicious than I anticipated. With that in mind, let’s dive in!

Cookbook: Woman’s World Calendar Cook Book
Author: Mrs. Ida Bailey Allen
Year: 1922

Original Recipe:


1 scant cup of sugar
6 tablespoons shortening any kind
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ground spice
3/4 cup equal parts raisins and currants
1/2 cup tart apple sauce
1 teaspoon soda


Stir sugar and shortening together until creamy. Sift flour, salt, and spice and add fruit; then dissolve soda in a tablespoon of warm water and stir it into applesauce. Beat this alternately with flour mixture into creamed shortening and sugar. Bake in three small layers in moderate oven – 350 Degrees F. – about thirty minutes, and put together with Apple Whip Frosting (go to page 16).

My version:


1 cup of sugar
6 tablespoons Crisco
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice
3/4 cup equal parts raisins and currants
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon warm water


  1. Stir sugar and shortening together until creamy.
  2. Sift flour, salt, and spice and add fruit
  3. Dissolve soda in a tablespoon of warm water and stir it into applesauce.
  4. Pour it into the sugar and shortening mixture.
  5. While mixing all of that together, spoon the flour mixture into creamed shortening/sugar/applesauce mixture.
  6. Mix together until it makes a dough.
  7. Bake in an 8×8 pan at 350 Degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes (testing doneness at 30 minutes).

The finished product will kinda look like a chocolate chip cake (because of the raisins and currants) and have a crusty top, but the inside will be nice and moist.

End Result



Cake dough before baking


Applesauce Cake!


So this ended up being a super simple recipe. And pretty interesting as well. Because there are no animal products or by-products in this cake… it is technically vegan, but also you can eat the dough without fear. It’s also cool to see the applesauce playing double duty. Normally when you make any kind of baked good with just baking soda (not baking powder), you need some kind of acid to make it react. (Baking powder already has this acid mixed with the baking soda so that it will react when added to any liquid.) In this recipe, the applesauce supplies the acid needed to make the baking soda react and make the cake rise. But the applesauce also replaces any eggs or oil that you might otherwise need.

Another thing to note: because this dough is relatively thick, if you didn’t want to make a cake, you could probably use the dough to make Apple Sauce Cake cookies. All you would need to do is roll the dough into balls and bake in the oven for a shorter period of time.

Questions? Comments?

Have any questions or comments about this recipe? Know of any other recipes I should try? Let me know below! And if you like what you’ve been seeing here on Tenacious Genealogy – please subscribe to our email list. Not only will you stay up to date with the latest blog posts, but you’ll also get access to freebies such as ’10 Tips for Starting Your Genealogy’ and other fun ‘subscriber only’ items!

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