Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vanilla Chai Applesauce Pound Cake

It's Fall; the nights are cool and the days are sunny, but crisp.  In many areas, the foliage color has peaked, but here in Seattle, our deciduous trees are finally showing their beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges.

About twelve years ago, in Connecticut, we had this beautiful Fall and I couldn't resist collecting leaves to press and then, wanting to make a keepsake, I created this serving tray.  Simply encase the pressed leaves between two pieces of glass, which were cut to fit this frame, and finally add handles on each end. Tonight, it came in handy to show off this unusual pound cake--Chai Tea, fragrant vanilla, and fall apples.  Kelly introduced me to Chai tea; something she had started drinking while working at Rizolli bookstore in Santa Monica, California.  The spices involved in Chai are my favorites and, if you don't want to use tea bags, you could substitute with cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

I remember one early Fall going apple picking with my Mom and my oldest brother's first wife, Jeanne, to her family vacation home in the mountains of Frederick, Maryland.  It was a glorious day; wading in the creek near their cabin and picking apples at an orchard near by.  Admittedly, we got a little over zealous with the bounty of apples and came back with a couple of bushels:)  The next day we made applesauce, cake and, of course, pies.  One of my keepsakes from my mother and of memories of that day, is this "food mill" with the handmade wooden plunger by my Grandpa Frank.
I've made a lot of applesauce with this and, because I can leave the peel on to cook my apples, I know it's healthier.  Inspirations come in the most unusual packages!  I'd love to hear about your memories of Fall and what traditions you still do.  Now, I'm imagining my Dad putting on his 40-cup coffee urn to accompany the pies or cakes we made after picking...the house smells wonderful.

Vanilla Chai Applesauce Pound Cake

Chunky applesauce:
3-4 apples (I used a variety of Granny Smith and Honey Crisp)
2 Chai Tea bags
3/4 cup apple cider
1 T Vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp. Vanilla powder

Peel, core, slice, then, cut into 1/2-1 inch chunks the apples.  In a medium saucepan, measure the cider and place the tea bags in it.  Bring to a boil, then, lower the heat and simmer about 10 minutes.  Add the cut-up apples and place the lid on the pan.  Cook another 10-15 minutes and remove the lid.  

Continue to cook until most of the liquid has reduced and the apples are "starting to fall apart".  You can use a potato masher to press down on the apples, but leave it somewhat chunky.  Transfer the chunky applesauce, tea bags and all, to a glass bowl.  Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla or as I did, 1/4 tsp. of Vanilla powder.  Let cool completely.  (The applesauce can be made the day before and chilled in the refrigerator.)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 cups Vanilla Chai Chunky Applesauce
3 cups All-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven 325F-degrees.  Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with a nonstick baking spray with flour.
In the KitchenAid, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the chunky applesauce and mix only to combine.  Measure the dry ingredients in a glass bowl and use a whisk to combine.   Add to the batter and mix to combine.  Spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when tested in the center of the cake.  Let cool about 10 minutes in the pan before turning it out onto a serving plate.  Meanwhile make the glaze.
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 1/2 T warmed apple cider
1 tsp. light Karo syrup

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl and while the cake is cooling, pour over cake.
My dear friend, Nicole, from the Gardenmama blog, made a leaf press last week on her blog.  She inspired me to share with you all one way you can turn your beautiful keepsake leaves into a lasting project.  Here are a few more photos of the tray I made from my pressed Connecticut leaves.

After creating one, bake up this scrumptious pound cake and serve to your family and friends.  Enjoy!


  1. Beautiful photos complemented by your descriptive posts. Thanks for the break Susan. (and Thanks Thanks and double Thanks for all the help while you were here). We miss you!

    For me fall is my favorite time of year. I love that the heat has tapered off, and we can wear jeans everyday. I love to be in the woods and hear the leaves underfoot and smell the dry, almost smoky, aroma of the the fallen leaves. Kelly and I spent alot of time going to the Red River Gorge when we first moved here, and I look forward to taking Ari there this weekend. The big-leaf magnolias drop there huge (prehistoric loooking) leaves across the forest floor and the maples spot the forest with reds and oranges.

    I only wish that we had some bundt cake for our return. . . Miguel's pizza will have to do.

    Big hugs,



  2. Oh my does that ever sound and look delicious!

  3. There will be some Grammy's Blueberry Newtons waiting for you and Ari! I miss you guys too and boy, do I wish I could see the gorge and have Miguel's pizza with you both. Love you, xoxo

  4. This recipe looks and sounds so good! Perfect for these cozy autumn days : )
    as you know I love your leaf tray idea, it is great to see these beautiful photos of it too! xoxo