Fran’s Favorites: Applesauce Cakes

By Fran DeWine

There is a lot of excitement at our house right now!

The holidays are over and the Christmas decorations are put away — all except the Nativity crèche my dad made me. I keep it out all the time, and our grandkids bring their toy animals to visit.

We are very busy preparing for our new job and our new home — although we will probably be back at our farm nearly every weekend. This is such a great new opportunity to serve the people of Ohio, and Mike can hardly wait! And I am excited to move into the Governor’s Residence. It’s a beautiful old home that belongs to all the people of Ohio, and it will be a real honor to live there. I recently had a wonderful tour of the house by First Lady Karen Kasich. And of course I checked out the kitchen! It’s a little more industrial than the one I have now, but lovely. As I prepare to move I think not only about the right clothes for every occasion, but I think of the silly things, like will I have my favorite baking sheets for making my buttermilk brownies that I share at nearly every party!

In the midst of all this, we share our family celebrations. Since Christmas we have celebrated grandson Justin’s birthday on Christmas Eve, daughter Alice’s birthday two days after Christmas, and little Steven’s birthday on New Year’s Eve. And this weekend, we will celebrate Mike’s birthday!

For his birthday, I thought I would make his Grandmother Liddle’s applesauce cake, which has always been one of his favorites. Grandmother and Grandfather Liddle came to Yellow Springs in 1927. Arthur E. Morgan recruited young Albert Liddle to teach at Antioch College. He and his wife Ruth came with their two daughters — Dorothy and Jean. Since there was no place for the young family to stay immediately, they camped in Glen Helen by the Yellow Springs until they found a house. Young Jean, Mike’s mother, was 2 years old.

Mike’s grandmother Ruth made this applesauce cake often. She told me the recipe was given to her by one of her very first friends when she moved to Yellow Springs. Usually she made this as tiny cakes — fun to serve with tea. You can double it and make it in a 9 x 13” pan, or as layers. I have a child-size Bundt pan that was Mike’s Grandmother DeWine’s as a child, so traditionally, I make that one for the special birthday person and surround it with the little cupcakes. You can make a butter cream icing for it, but I usually just make a thin glaze of a little melted butter, milk, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla.

Granny Liddle’s Applesauce Cakes

Cream together:

1/2 cup shortening or oil

1 cup sugar

Mix in order:

1 1/2 cups hot unsweetened apple sauce

2 teaspoons soda

2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Fill greased cupcake pans half full. (You can use tiny cupcake pans if you want.) Bake 15-20 minutes at 375°. Cool.


2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons milk

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk together and spread on cake.

By Fran DeWine