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.
Anyway, that´s not this cake of course, that one took days to make, a large part seeding raisins, because, according to those who had tasted the original recipe make by the original baker, it tasted differently with `those new raisins with no seeds´.
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.
The flavors are all there and it depends of how much spices you add to it. I grate a lot of fresh nutmeg into the batter, just because I love it. And using my deep smelling vietnamese cinnamon did make a difference. But it´s not crucial.
It has quite a lot of raisins and walnuts in relation to the amount of batter. It´s definitely a fruit and nut cake, which I think are terribly underrated and good to consume year round.
WALNUT RAISIN SNACK CAKE
a bit adapted from Maida Heatter´s Book of Great Dessert, by Maida Heatter
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
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 9x13 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.