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.
- 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.