Treat of the Week: Applesauce Loaf with Caramel Icing

I frequently have leftover materials from projects that need to be used up, given away, or in the worst case tossed. For an upcoming project that will appear in the next month or so I had to purchase a ridiculous amount of apples. Admittedly, my selection was primarily based on color as the apples in the photo were not meant for part of a recipe. As a result, I ended up with apples that don't appeal to me. I like tart and crisp like Granny Smith. These were the soft sort. 

I looked at the baskets of apples on my dining room table for a day or two until I decided my only way to make good use of them was to make some applesauce. It made a  LOT of applesauce. This made my boys very happy... briefly. 

Applesauce Loaf with Caramel Icing by Sam Henderson of Today's Nest

I froze some of it, but still there was more than I needed. My solution was to make these moist and delicious applesauce mini loaves. They are somewhat dense, but super moist at room temperature. The texture reminds me of pumpkin loaf.

I've decided on one universal truth... caramel is love. I topped the loaves with a simple caramel icing. It was good before, but the icing makes it sing. It only requires a thin layer of caramel. That's good news because if you play your cards right, you'll have some left over for other uses.

savour... making the most of things


Applesauce Loaf with Caramel Icing (makes 10 mini loaves)

Before you start:

I made these as mini loaves in disposable paper loaf 'pans'. You can use a metal mini loaf pan or a regular sized loaf pan if you wish and remove for icing. If you are using metal pans I highly recommend lining them first with parchment paper.

I made my applesauce from scratch, but the store bought version is fine. I would err on the side of thicker sauce to keep the cake from being too moist. If your applesauce is not thick, try draining it a bit in a fine mesh strainer to remove some of the excess liquid.

If you don't have currants, you could substitute with raisins or even chopped nuts if you prefer.

I live by the clean toothpick test. In this case, you are looking for clean meaning no actual batter on the toothpick. However, for moister applesauce loaves you may want to stop at the point that no batter sticks, but there is still a bit of moisture on the toothpick.

Be sure to use a medium saucepan for the caramel. It will bubble and may spill over the top of a small saucepan creating a burnt, sugary mess.

If you have extra caramel sauce place it in an airtight container for storage. You can store it at room temperature for a few days, in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or in the freezer for a few months.

Applesauce Loaf with Caramel Icing by Sam Henderson of Today's Nest

The ingredients:

For the loaves:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 cup dried currants

For the icing:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream, plus 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
Applesauce Loaf with Caramel Icing by Sam Henderson of Today's Nest

The method:

For the loaves:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Place flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to fully combine. Set aside.
  2. Add butter to a large bowl and beat until smooth and creamy (30-60 sec). Add sugars gradually while beating on high speed for 4-6 minutes or until lighter and fluffier. Add eggs one at a time beating after each to fully combine.
  3. Alternate dry ingredients and applesauce over 5-6 additions mixing just until mixed each time. Avoid over mixing. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the currants and stir in just until combined.
  4. Divide mixture evenly over 10 mini loaf pans filling each to about 3/4 full. Bake on a rolled rim baking sheet in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until it passes the clean toothpick test. As ovens vary, you may want to start checking for doneness around the 30 minute mark. 
  5. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before icing. If you have used paper loaf 'pans' apply the icing with the cakes in the paper for easy gifting. Otherwise, remove the loaves and place on a wire rack. Pour the icing over the loaf tops and smooth out with the back of a spoon (dipped in water if it begins to stick).

For the icing:

  1. Place sugar and cream in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir frequently until sugar is completely dissolved (about 3-5 min). Use a rubber spatula to scrape sides and/or a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any crystallization that has occurred. 
  2. Stop stirring and continue to heat over medium heat to soft ball stage (238˚-240˚ on a cooking thermometer). Remove from the heat and add butter. Do not stir or remove thermometer. Allow caramel to cool to 110˚
  3. Remove thermometer and add vanilla and salt. Beat on low speed adding 2-3 tablespoons of cream to reach spreading consistency. Top loaves and store any remaining caramel icing for another use.
Applesauce Loaf with Caramel Icing by Sam Henderson of Today's Nest