My mom had a long-running joke with her sisters about their collective tendencies to snitch slivers of leftover desserts, usually pie or cake. The malingering treat would rest on the counter of my grandmother’s kitchen or dining room table, perpetually visited by my mother and aunts (and me, as I grew older and more autonomous/prone to snitching), who would whittle off the tiniest slice (or chunk, depending on how brazen they felt) in the interest of “evening it out.”
Desserts, it seems, were forever uneven in our home, an unforgivable condition.
This spiced applesauce cake reminds me of my mom. Not because she was known for a signature apple cake, but because this cake invites endless snitching. It seems wholesome, what with its primary ingredient, homemade applesauce, but also because its comforting fall flavors beckon from wherever you’ve stashed the uneaten portion. It’s particularly gratifying to revisit again and again when you think about the layers of flavor composing the cake, from the tart, cinnamon-tinged applesauce to the gratifyingly fattening spiced cream cheese frosting. It bears a depth of flavor that you can’t say no to, not that you’d want to anyway.
Maybe it’s because I don’t spend as many holidays with my mom’s family as I used to (marriage with children has a way of dividing your attentions, especially on pie- and cake-centric celebrations/holidays), or maybe it’s because we’re (seemingly) all on Weight Watchers these days, but it seems like the dessert-straightening practice faded away after we lost my mom in 2004. But I suspect we’re all honoring her every now and again when we notice anything less than a perfectly straight line on a sheet cake or a precise right angle sliced out of a pecan pie.
I finally had to take the rest of the cake to my students today, who cooed over it and called me an Angel in the House. I felt virtuous (for getting the calorie bomb out of my house), generous (for sharing with my students), and stealthy (because I know that there are two secret pieces left in the back of my fridge, crooked as can be).