The idea of dried fruit soaked in booze reminds me of my paternal grandmother making our family’s treasured recipe for plum pudding, a recipe brought from Ireland by my great (or was it great-great?) grandmother. The funny thing is that was my mother’s side of the family, but turns out my father’s side kept the tradition alive.
A snack cake is always handy. It can be served with coffee or tea, left on the counter to snack on it during the day, or embellished with a dollop of something sweet and silky like dulce de leche and call it a dessert. Any way you eat it it feels somewhat wholesome, almost like it has some kind of whole wheat flour in it, which it doesn’t.
Walnut Raisin Snack Cake with Dulce de Leche
Yield 8 servings
- 2 cups raisins
- 1/3 cup cognac
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbs cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- A few gratings fresh nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups (230g) applesauce, I used this recipe
- 2 cups (200g) walnut pieces, toasted and very coarsely chopped
- Powdered sugar, to dust
- Dulce de leche, to serve
- Soak raisins in cognac for at least 6 hours or overnight. Turn mixture occasionally.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a baking tray, distribute walnuts evenly and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool and reserve.
- Spray or butter a 9×13 inch baking pan and dust with fine, dry breadcrumbs.
- Sift flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cocoa in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Beginning with dry ingredients, add them in three additions, alternating with applesauce in two additions. Mix only to incorporate.
- Add raisins with any liquid and walnuts and mix without beating. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until top springs back when lightly touched and a tester comes out clean. Don’t overbake it.
- Let cool on wire rack and serve dusted with powdered sugar and a dollop of dulce de leche.