Mom’s applesauce cupcakes are filled with warm fall spices and no refined sugars. The applesauce and maple syrup keeps them dense, moist and sweet.
The leaves are falling again. The crisp cool early morning air lies to me as I dress myself in boots and scarves, draping glorious winter clothes on only the shed them in a near panic by midday when I struggle to breathe. Warm even hot fall days have lingered here far past the normal end of September and time seems to be frozen waiting for me to catch up.
Weeks have turned into months on this studio project and the perfectionist tendencies I am fighting to free myself from long for it to be complete. And yet I have started to see a small ray of hope. There is craze here yes, learning new schedules, finding backpacks and rushing back and forth for a forgotten item in one location or the next. Boxes and chaos and paint and sweat dusted with sawdust.
And yet time, even in its perceived frozenness, never slows down. It never feels like the right time to start, to commit to these new habits and patterns of life. And yet it is here. I have spun for so many years chasing this dream or that dream…explaining to blog coaches and my husband that this…this is the path that this person has followed, and this is the path that this person has followed. But never really knowing which path and which vision is mine. Living so afraid of making the wrong choice, of being too raw, too wordy, too self exposed.
I’ve filled pages with exclamation points and power phrases, tried so hard to photograph in certain styles, learned the skills of my trade and yet…I’ve managed to lose myself a bit in the process. And I’m sorry. For you and for me.
I don’t know what this year will bring, but I do know that I’m not fighting it anymore. I’ve released myself from the pressures of this industry to look and say and be a certain way and am finally embracing myself. I have always been a deep thinker, an overly romantic wordy writer and enamored by the way the light creates shadows in this world.
I have found myself longing for the days when it was just me and my fathers old 35mm film camera. The wonder and excitement of discovering a line of shadows from a railing that would create the most beautiful deep dark impressions on that black and white film. Unrolling the film in darkness with the pungent smells of developer in the air and watching that image come to light on the paper. It was real and raw and gorgeous.
This recipe is the cake I remember from my childhood. I would ask for it each fall when my birthday came growing up and mom would, most often, bake it in a simple sheet pan. A stick of cold butter pressed against the blisteringly hot top would melt into the crevices and she would dust cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar over it.
Now I have a birthday boy to share my week with, my oldest charged into the world a full two weeks early so that we could both have September birthdays. He went off to preschool this year and I can’t help but long to hear how much he will love this season as the years pass. Warm fall days, the smell of new paper, the burst in your mouth of warm wild plums that grow in our yard just like they did on my parents property, and of course the sweet and spice of mom’s applesauce cake.
I’ve changed very little here…a switch for maple syrup instead of sugar and spelt flour from white flour gives this a slightly denser consistency to them similar to carrot cake. A simple maple cream cheese frosting to help little ones at school know it is indeed a cupcake.
- ½ cup butter softened
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups spelt flour plus 2 tablespoons (I prefer spelt over white flour in this recipe)
- 1¼ cups applesauce, steaming hot
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream butter with mixer for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk for 1-2 minutes. Butter will be lumpy.
- Add vanilla, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and flour and mix with wooden spoon until just combined (some dry patches are okay).
- Add hot applesauce and stir with spoon until incorporated.
- Bake immediately in lined or greased muffin tin or sheet pan.
- Cook until toothpick comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes for cupcakes, 30-40 for a sheet pan. Top will still look slightly wet.
- Allow to cool 10 min in pan, then move to a cooling rack to completely cool. Dust with powdered sugar, or frost with maple cream cheese frosting.