It’s a quick and easy cake with a homely face. But it’s more sophisticated than it appears, being moist with applesauce, yet crunchy on top, and perfumed with lemon.
Pretty good cake for about 10 minute’s work. Hopefully autumn’s apples inspired you to make home-made applesauce. Which of course went into my applesauce oatmeal muffins. But, and let’s be realistic here, canned applesauce works fine.
A neighbor taught me this recipe long ago, when we were both still young mothers. I was in the middle of a domestic emergency in my Jerusalem apartment.
The washing machine had broken down, the new one was going to take a week to arrive, and I was pregnant. With an energetic little boy falling into mud puddles and wreaking general mayhem, the pile of laundry was growing, threatening to topple over and bury the house. I had no idea how to deal with it. I was overwhelmed.
My neighbor Esther came upstairs on some errand and found me with in the rocking chair with a face like a rainy Sunday, clutching a mug of coffee on top of my big tummy. She took the situation in with one glance of her lively black eyes, then offered me the use of her washer until mine arrived.
I won’t forget her kindness. It saved me. Suddenly, there was hope beyond hormones. Together, we shlepped the first two loads downstairs and I sat in her bright, cheerful kitchen almost in tears of gratitude.
Esther was full of ideas for good things to eat made in a hurry. She knew this recipe by heart, and I scribbled it down at her dictation as I waited for the laundry to finish spinning. It was long ago, but the cake still reminds of Esther, every time I bake it.
Applesauce Crumb Cake
Note: Pie fillings are very good with this dough. I’ve used cherries cooked in syrup and thickened with a little cornstarch – very good. Esther would sometimes fill the cake with a can of blueberry pie filling.
2- 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup margarine, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
A pinch of salt
1 can applesauce, or 2-1/4 cups home-made
For the top crust:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375° F, 190° C.
Combine all ingredients except for applesauce and sugar/cinnamon mix.
Pat half the dough into a square, medium-sized baking pan or large pie pan lined with baking parchment.
Spread the applesauce over the dough.
Crumble the remaining half of dough over the applesauce.
Sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture over the top.
Bake 30 minutes.
This is a delicate cake, best stored in the fridge if any is left over, to keep the crust firm.