There have been a lot of apples around here lately. Besides the 2 1/2 bushels we pressed into cider--such delicious cider!--we made yummy applesauce, froze two pies' worth, and froze some more for apple crisp. And we're still eating them just about everyday for lunch.

We were thrilled to find an orchard that has an "antique" section, filled with heirlooms, many of which we recognized from our dear Poverty Lane in New Hampshire. There is truly no better way to spend an afternoon than in an heirloom orchard, using a little map to figure out which trees are which, and tasting tasting tasting so many kinds of apples. We're happy that Finn now easily recognizes the shape of an apple tree (surely one of the most beautiful trees) and that he associates cider doughnuts with orchards. When offered apple juice, he will (politely) request cider, saying that that is his preference. We were, however, a little chagrined when his preschool teacher reported that when she served them apple cider last week, Finn asked if she had pressed it herself.
So in honor of all that, I decided we needed to do a little apple crafting. Something simple, since my last art activity idea was a bust (wet felting little acorns. Such a cute idea! But alas, felting required a little too much patience for Finn right now, and I had never done it before so I couldn't give enough guidance and be very patient myself. It was a good reminder, though, to keep things simple. There will be plenty of time for more involved crafts later.)
And what does a good apple craft need? That's right. Good apple cake. So we made this, an applesauce cake from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. It's spicy and fruity, with dried cranberries and lots of nuts. Sort of fruitcake-like, and I mean that in a good way. Not nearly as dense, but flavorful and moist. I drizzled with a glaze, but it didn't really need anything.
Hot Applesauce Cake
adapted from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, by Marion Cunningham
makes two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaves

1 cup shortening (we used Spectrum brand, with no trans fats)
2 cups sugar (we used one cup brown, I cup white)
2 eggs
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (we used white whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves (that's a lot of cloves! We just used one)
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups hot applesauce
2 cups raisins (we used dried cranberries)
2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350, and grease and flour your pans.
Cream the shortening, sugar, salt, baking soda, and spices. Add eggs and mix well. Add flour and mix just until combined, then add applesauce, raisins and nuts. Mix until combined. Spread evenly in pan, and bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. (We, of course, didn't wait that long. Do you? Really?)

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