Applesauce Cake with Bourbon Raisins

Applesauce Cake with Bourbon Raisins

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Servings: 8

The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, writes, “I love the earthiness of old-fashioned cakes but I often wish they had more flavor. Apples and raisins are great together in a cake, but I thought some bourbon would give it more depth, so I infused the raisins with bourbon before adding them to the batter. A splash of bourbon in the cream cheese frosting didn’t hurt either.”


For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup (4 1/2 oz./140 g) golden raisins
  • 2 Tbs. good bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
  • 10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) (5 oz./150 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra to grease the pan
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (9 oz./280 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for the pan
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (14 oz./440 g) unsweetened applesauce, such as Mott’s
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) coarsely chopped pecans
  • Whole pecans halves for decorating

For the bourbon cream cheese frosting:

  • 6 oz. cream cheese (185 g), at room temperature
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. good bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted (see note)


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-by-2-inch (23-by-5-cm) round cake pan, line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pan. Tap out the excess flour.
  • Combine the raisins and bourbon in a small bowl, cover and microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Place the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on medium, add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, and mix until smooth.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the batter, mixing just until combined. Stir in the applesauce. Fold in the raisins (including the liquid) and chopped pecans with a rubber spatula and mix well. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes, turn out onto a cooling rack, rounded side up, and cool completely.
  • To make the frosting, place the cream cheese, butter, bourbon and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth. With the mixer on low, slowly add the sugar and mix well. Scrape down the sides and stir well with a rubber spatula.
  • Spread the bourbon cream cheese frosting on just the top of the cake (not the sides!) and artfully place the pecan halves on top. Serve at room temperature. Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) round cake; serves 8.
  • MAKE AHEAD: Bake the cake, cool it, wrap it well and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Frost the cake just before serving.
  • NOTE: One-half pound of sifted confectioners’ sugar is about 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons.
  • Reprinted from Modern Comfort Food. Copyright © 2020 by Ina Garten. Photographs copyright © 2020 by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House.