foodFood & Drinkrecipes

Autumn’s Most Tender Applesauce Cake + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

The apple is the fruit that says autumn to me the most, and I learned from cookbook author (and wife to Grace!), Julia Turshen, that when dipped in honey, apples are also most closely associated with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year (which begins this year at sundown on September 9 and ends at sundown on September 11).

Fittingly, Julia made an Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese + Honey Frosting based on those celebratory apples dipped in honey in her new cookbook, Now & Again. It’s a soft, moist, one-layer cake that requires no special utensils or special ingredients to make. True to Julia’s popular cooking style, it’s also made in one bowl (or two if you count the frosting bowl). I’ll admit that while I can almost always resist layer cakes when I see them in bakery windows, it’s the single-layer cakes like this one that get me every time! Try this recipe out to usher in autumn or as a delicious addition to your Rosh Hashanah traditions. —Kristina

Image above: Freshly picked apples

Why Julia loves this recipe: My goal in every recipe I create is to give you the guidelines to make something that feels appealing and then is a breeze to prepare requiring no hard-to-find ingredients or a big mess to clean up (because… dishes). This applesauce cake, the opposite of dry and full of spice, is so easy to make. You mix everything in one bowl, scrape it into a cake pan, and that’s that. The frosting is equally simple, just cream cheese whipped together with a little honey for sweetness and a bit of sour cream because why have just one type of dairy when you can have two? (The sour cream actually makes a big difference in texture — it just smooths it all out really beautifully… trust me, I would never suggest an extra ingredient if I didn’t think it made a difference). And just as easy as it is to make, this cake is also so easy to enjoy. It goes great with coffee in the morning (it has applesauce so it’s totally acceptable for breakfast #wink) and makes for a homey, not-too-sweet dessert. I hope you love it as much as I do.

For a chance to win a copy of Now & Again, respond in the comments section below by September 25, 5PM EST to the following question: What’s your favorite bakery and why? It can be anywhere in the world, or even a person’s kitchen! We will announce the winner in the comments section, so be sure to check back!

About Julia: Julia Turshen is the bestselling author of Now & Again, Feed the Resistance, named the Best Cookbook of 2017 by Eater, and Small Victories, named one of the Best Cookbooks of 2016 by the New York Times and NPR. She has coauthored numerous cookbooks and hosted the first two seasons of Radio Cherry Bombe. She has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Saveur. Epicurious has called her one of the 100 Greatest Home Cooks of All Time. She is the founder of Equity At The Table (EATT), an inclusive digital directory of women and non-binary individuals in food. Julia lives in the Hudson Valley with her wife and pets.

All images by David Loftus

Image above: Julia with Winky and Hope

Image above: Julia frosts the cake

Image above: Cake and coffee

Image above: Julia and Grace’s living room

Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese + Honey Frosting


The food most closely associated with Rosh Hashanah is apples dipped in honey, an autumnal gesture to shepherd in a sweet year. A lot of desserts feature apples and honey, and this super-simple cake (which requires one bowl and one cake pan) fits the bill. I like this cake so much (and especially love how easy it is to make) that I make it often, especially throughout the fall when apples are on the mind. Its texture and appeal are similar to those of banana bread. If you like, you can stir in a large handful or two of raisins and/or nuts just before you scrape the batter into the cake pan. Although you can absolutely use homemade applesauce for this, know that store-bought is just fine.


  • For the Cake
  • 2 cups [240 g] all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup [100 g] sugar
  • ½ cup [120 ml] buttermilk or [120 g] plain yogurt
  • 1½ cups [400 g] unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup [80 ml] canola or other neutral oil
  • For the Frosting
  • 6 oz [170 g] cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • ¼ cup [85 g] honey
  • Pinch of kosher salt



To make the cake:

Preheat your oven to 350°F [180°C]. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-in [23-cm] round cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Set the pan aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and baking soda. Add the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, applesauce, and oil and whisk gently just until everything is combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared pan and then smooth the surface so it is even.

Bake the cake until it is just barely firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Set the cake aside on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the pan sides and then invert it onto your work surface. Peel off and discard the parchment. Invert the cake one more time onto a serving platter.


To make the frosting:

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, honey, and salt and whisk together aggressively until the cream cheese is slightly aerated (you can also do this with a handheld electric mixer or in a stand mixer).

Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and don’t worry too much about making this perfect. I think a not-too-perfect cake is so much better than a perfect cake. Cut into wedges and serve. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reprinted from Now & Again by Julia Turshen with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018

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  • Thanks Julia f another great cookbook and recipes such as this— I’m trying so hard to not buy more cookbooks but you r making this difficult f me!
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    Great job!

  • I adore Julia’s books and am so pumped to add her latest to my collection. We cook from Small Victories weekly! My favorite bakery is Flour in Boston. They have the friendliest staff who truly seem jazzed to be there (with lines inevitably out the door) and the displays leave me drooling. I can’t get enough of their sandwiches either. It’s just the best!

  • My Kitchen… baking for me is a wonderful way to share and show someone how important they are to you! It also relieves a ton of stress!

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    So excited for Julia’s new book, by the way!

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  • Common Bond in Houston, TX is serious about their baked goods, and the care they take is apparent. Someone above mentioned Sister Pie in Detroit and I love how earnest they are in their endeavors (whether baking or community). I’m a baker at heart and don’t do nearly enough but feel like someday I’ll spend more time at it…

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  • Hi :)
    My favourite bakery is “Bäckerei Gehr” in Tübingen/Germany. It has definitely the best Franzbrötchen in town!
    The Applesauce cake sounds delicious and since I just made a whole batch of homemade applesauce I have that on hand anyway! Thanks!

    Love from Germany, Rahel

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  • It’s a small shop next to my old high school in Izmir, Turkey called Turta- meaning “Pie”. Handmade and fresh, reminds me of old memories. :)

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  • My favorite bakery is no more: Pastelería Mora, in Barcelona. My aunts lived across the street, and one summer we went to visit them I fell in love with it. I fondly remember the almond lace cookies. Their wrapping paper was exquisite, an Art Deco collage worthy of hanging on the wall, and they gave me an extra sheet to take home with me. Last time I was in Barcelona was 10 years ago, and the bakery had been replaced by designer’s Rosa Clará’s studio. I was very sad.

  • Cannon Beach, Oregon, even though I haven’t been for several years! Can’t wait to try this recipe you shared.

  • Flour, in Boston – BEST bakery ever! A close second is Standard Baking Co. in Portland Maine.

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    My favorite bakery is my parent’s kitchen when my mom, brother, and I are all baking for Thanksgiving together. We all (+ my dad and our significant others) only see each other once a year and we always make the classic pies and at least one experimental dessert – one of my favorite memories every year.

  • Not sure if this counts, but truly my favorite baked goods are the ones my kids make! It makes me proud that they can find their way around the kitchen, make delicious baked goods to share with others and have fun/be creative at the same time!

  • You can’t get any better than my mom’s famous pound cake! She also bakes delicious bread!

  • My favorite bakery (baker) is a good friend. She is absolutely a professional quality baker and her desserts rival any I’ve had any place in the world. Fantastic!

  • This looks amazing, I can’t wait to make it! My favorite bakery is Essen here in Philadelpha – everything they do is fantastic from the croissants to the chocolate babka.

  • Definitely making this for Rosh Hashanah tomorrow!

    My favorite bakery is Hungry Ghost Bread in Northampton, Massachusetts! They mostly make breads, but also have a great variety of savory and sweet pastries as well as delicious pizzas. I lived in the area for five years and the Hungry Ghost was always where I went if I needed comfort food or a little something special. Everything is wood-fired too. Some of my favorite items were their knishes, their breads of the day, and their sausage, pepper, and onion pizza.

  • Naeglin’s Bakery in New Braunfels, Texas —— the oldest bakery in Texas.

    The strudels are unbelievable.

  • There are way too many good bakeries in the world to pick just one! But if I have to, I’m going to pick the SF Bay-based Acme Bread, who stock all the local supermarkets and have a booth with a constant line at my local farmer’s market. So good. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  • I would love this book I’m a dessert fanatic. My favorite bakery? My moms she made the best desserts I’ve ever had in my life. I miss them and her

  • It’s Sunday morning and 6-year-old my daughter and I are listening to a mystery book and savoring slices of this cake with fall fruit. The cake has such a lovely flavor. We made two (!) last night and plan to frost them this morning – one for us and one to take to a neighborhood gathering. Yay for easy and delicious fall cakes!

  • My fav bakery is the stand with the young morrocan girl at the Yellow Green Farmers Market!! I don’t know what the pastries are but they are amazing

  • The cake is looking great! Did anyone else have trouble getting their cream cheese frosting smooth? My batch became a little clumpy, and wondering what might have happened to the cream cheese. Thanks for troubleshooting!

    • I also had trouble with my frosting! It was very lumpy (despite whipping with an electric mixer for a while). I didn’t love the taste of it either. The cake was great though.

      • Hi Stephanie

        I’m sorry you had that issue- was the cream cheese fully at room temperature? I find that’s usually the cause of lumps, even with a lot of whipping. We’ve made a massive-sized version of this for the charity where we cook every Thursday (upsized for 70 people) and I had the same problem because I forgot to leave out the cream cheese to fully get up to room temp.


  • my favorite bakery is the bakery department in Fairway in NYC. They have wonderful baked goods and breads

  • Most missed bakery from London days is Yassar Halim’s. North London, Harringey Green Lanes. Not a sit down place, but a serious go-to for fresh baklava, and baked delights sweet & dripping with honey, or savory with spinach and tangy cheese. Hands down fav was a Cypriot Easter bread (or so google thinks) savory, herby, cheesy with raisins and sesame seeds. Excuse me while I book a flight back….

  • My favorite bakery is any that I walk into and find what I’m looking for!!!^_^ The reason, there are many delicious bakeries that provide many different and wonderful food!!!^_^

  • There’s a small bakery in San Antonio, Texas tucked into a strip center that makes wonderful breads, called Sol Y Luna. My gosh, their rosemary bread and almond croissants are the best in the city! They also have these small dinner rolls that we can’t resist. Once you break one apart and lay down some butter, you just want more and more. Just up the street is another bakery – Broadway Daily Bread – that consistently feeds the surrounding neighborhood with moist muffins, kolaches and brownies and a super delicious loaf of white bread that is the perfect toasting bread. When friends visit us, they often request that bread for breakfasts. It’s a Bakery Mile of deliciousness.

  • My mom’s house is the best bakery because she makes the most delicious cheesecakes!! I think close second is my house, because I love homemade chocolate chip cookies and at my house I can make them whenever I want. :)

    I’m excited to try this cake recipe, I have a gaming group that comes over every two weeks and I’ve been in a baking slump. I never want to get too crazy with desserts since I’m also cooking and the hubby is setting up games, but this looks so simple and homey and would make the house smell DELICIOUS!!

  • I worked as a professional baker for years and, although I have since left the pastry world behind, I remain an enthusiastic and curious home baker. That being said, there are certainly things that I don’t consider better or necessarily worth the effort to make myself. For those cases, I make my way over to Five Points Artisan Bakeshop in Pittsburgh, PA. The croissants and morning buns are incredible. The super crusty sourdough breads are perfect and have an almost creamy interior. I always toss a face-sized chocolate rye cookie in my order just in case I get hungry on the ride home (which I always do).

  • HOME is the best bakery in the world, wether it is my home, my aunt’s home, my grandmother’s home or my friends homes. I loved to cook along side my Aunt Geneva, she was patient, supportive and always allowed me to scrape the bowl. I lost both my grandmothers as a child, but have so many memories of watching the heart, hard work and love they put into baking.
    Nothing is more fun than sharing a night with friends making wedding gifts, bake sale goodies and holiday cookies for our kids, classrooms. But I have to say, I love baking at home the most! Store bought goods thou beautifully created, perfect little packages never live up to the promise for me. There is absolutely nothing to compare to a hot chewy cookie right off the cookie sheet or the moist cake to warm my soul or that heavenly smell of bread baking!

  • Good bakeries are the best. My favorite right now is a little one near my work called Renta’s bakery with the best lemon tart I have ever had. It is hard not to go all the time.

  • I love Lilac Patisserie in Santa Barbara. I have Celiac Disease and Lilac is a dedicated gluten-free bakery and cafe. I can walk in and not have to think about what I can and can’t eat and the food and pastries are beyond. <3

  • This cake looks amazing and I would LOVE to win Julia’s cookbook!
    My favorite bakery is Breads on 16th street. I live just a few doors down, and I love that even in the middle of NYC, a few steps from Union Square, I have a ‘local’ with employees who know my name and my usual order, who slip me little treats sometimes, and who love to recommend some new item that they’re excited for me to try. It makes me feel like part of a neighborhood. Of course, the food is also incredible – a mix of long-time favorites I grew up with in addition to interesting novelties I get to enjoy for the first time (marzipan honey swiped on the top of a cookie – who knew??). Plus, they clearly love almond-flavored things almost as much as me so there is always a new almond treat. And their iced latte is a magical elixir, I swear!

  • My favorite is an Italian bakery named Natale’s Bakery in Summit, NJ. They have unreal cannoli and cookies but my favorite is the simple Philly Fluff pound cake that goes with ice cream, berries, or just as is. It is the perfect hostess gift that is sure to please!

  • I think baked goods always remind me of my grandma, Christmas baking rituals, and her taking me for donuts before school every Wednesday. Baking is always tied to love and nurturing. Can’t wait to see Julia’s new book, I love her first one!

  • My favourite bakery is the kitchen of my friend Kerry’s home in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. We’d wake up on cold mornings to a warm kitchen where Kerry would be baking the most delicious scones ever. Topped with fresh butter, clotted cream from the local dairy and homemade preserves, alongside a strong cup of tea (or espresso), these scones were the stuff dreams are made of.

  • Yum! Making this recipe today, for certain! I LOVE Wendy Jo’s Homemade here in our great town of Lancaster, PA. Once my boss, now my friend, always my go-to for baked goodies.

  • There is a bakery in Colchester, CT that I go to and love…service could use some work, but the quality of the baked goods outweighs that. Which is not something I say about a lot of places/things! Almond horns, florentines, birthday cakes…sadly though, no bagels.

  • My favorite bakery is in Boise, ID and is called Janjou Pâtisserie. While I no longer live in Idaho, it remains my favorite because the confections are irresistible and beautiful, and I very much admire the woman behind it all. I wish I could pop in for a raspberry tart right now!

  • Common Bond in Houston TX is my favorite bakery. They make delicious pastries that are also beautiful! Their version of strawberry shortcake (which includes chocolate) is phenomenal but there’s always something amazing to taste in there!

  • Well, we DEFINITELY should make a guide for this thread because there are so many bakeries listed here (some owned by friends of DesignSponge) with so many pastries described, that wow! Katrina B you win the prize for making the trip to the Thirsty Whale! We’ll be in touch.

  • Can’t wait to try this one. cake is always my weakness. No diet when it comes to cakes. Lol! I’ll buy the ingredients rights away. Who says cakes are for girls only. Lol!

  • This cake is scrumptious.!! So easy to make in one bowl.. wonderful with homemade applesauce.
    I’ve made it twice, once as written and once with gluten-free flour. Delicious both ways! HOWEVER.. in my oven, with accurate oven temp, it is done in 35 minutes, not 55 minutes. Check carefully.
    Happy baking!