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Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese and Honey Frosting

Photograph by David Loftus

Photograph by David Loftus

Recipe by Julia Turshen from her new cookbook Now & Again. Enjoy 20% off of the book and free shipping with the code ‘Imperfect2018’!

A lot of desserts feature apples and honey, and this super-simple cake (which requires one bowl and one cake pan) fills 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.



  • 2 c all-purpose flour

  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger

  • 1½ tsp kosher salt

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • ½ c sugar

  • ½ c buttermilk or plain yogurt

  • 1½ c unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/3 c canola or other neutral oil


  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 2 Tbsp sour cream

  • ¼ c honey

  • Pinch of kosher salt



  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.


  • 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.

Recipe Notes

Although you can absolutely use homemade applesauce from your last batch of Imperfect apples for this, know that store-bought works fine too. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.