I have had this recipe since high school and it came from McCall’s magazine. For a long time I used the clipping from the magazine until I started transferring my recipes to 4″ x 6″ cards and I added that it came from McCall’s. The magazine has been out of publication now for over a decade. But in its hay day it offered great recipes that anyone could make. I would read them every summer at my Aunt Helen’s house. McCall’s and Redbook would publish every month a small novel for their readers. I loved those stories and read them every one I could get my hands on. The good thing my Aunt would save the magazines for her church paper drive. Only she would never seem to get them to the church so I had at least 10 years worth I could read while I was visiting her. When she wasn’t looking I would cut out a recipe or 2 that I wanted. I think by the 1980’s they stopped publishing the monthly short novels in the magazine. I didn’t buy as many after that.
The recipe is moist and just the thing for summer days and a take along to picnics because it will feed a crowd. You will need a sheet cake pan 10″ x 15″ or a jelly roll pan. The frosting is easy to make and just the right flavor to slather on top. It is just as good with just a dusting of powered sugar but you will need to wait to do that until you are ready to serve. The sugar disappears into the squares over time. What also dates this recipe to the mid 20th century is the shortening. Cookie and cake recipes called for shortening instead of butter. I have tried butter but I like the texture of the shortening for this recipe because it is less crumbly.
You don’t just have to serve it in squares, the cake can be rolled up as a jelly roll. Just turn the warm cake out onto a flour sack towel while it is warm and roll it up. Make the filling and gently unroll the cake, spread filling and roll back up. You can also slice the sheet cake into three pieces that are 5 inches wide after the cake is cool. Frost between each layer as you stack them ending with frosting on the top. This makes an old fashion “Spanish Bar Cake.” Spanish Bar Cake was very popular and every bakery offered their version of the rich spice cake with raisins in the 1940’s and 1950’s. I think it is still popular in some parts of the country. Anyone who collects old fund raising cookbooks will find a recipe for Spanish Spice Cake or Bar Cake in that era of cook book. When ever any family came for a visit my mother would run to the store and buy a Spanish Bar Cake for dessert. For me this recipe brings back wonderful memories of picnics and visitors.
Applesauce Raisin Squares
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup walnuts
Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Prepare jelly roll pan or sheet cake pan with vegetable spray.
Cream shortening and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add eggs and beat. Add applesauce and vanilla and mix. Sift together flour, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Now add slowly the sifted ingredients to the other mixture about a half a cup at a time until all of it is mixed in. Stir in raisins and nuts.
Spread in pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until it springs back when gently touched on the surface. Cool.
Brown Butter Frosting
3/4 cup butter (no substitute)
3 1/4 cups sifted Confectioner’s sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons of light cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Lightly brown butter in a small skillet on low heat. In a mixer add butter with sugar. While mixing add 4 tablespoons of cream and vanilla. Beat until smooth. If needed add more cream to make it the right spreading consistency. Spread on cool cake and serve.