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This little gem of a cake is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon tea (or coffee).  It’s moist, actually gets better as it sits, (though it is damn fine the first day, too!), isn’t too sweet, keeps well and is more or less, a one-bowl cake.  It is just plain lovely!  This recipe “happened” because I had a partially used jar of unsweetened applesauce lurking in the fridge for far too long, that needed to be used.  And I was toasting some old-fashioned oatmeal to add to a loaf of bread I was making.  Who knows why, but I was planning on making my applesauce snack cake.  It suddenly occurred to me that some of that oatmeal might be an interesting addition.  If I may be so bold, it was an inspired thought.  Because this is just so delicious with the oatmeal.  And toasting it is essential.

To toast oatmeal, place old-fashioned oats in an evenly, thin layer on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  Place in a preheated 350°F oven.  Stir about half way through; it takes about 4-5 minutes in total.  Watch carefully, as the edges tend to toast first and if it burns, you’ll need to pitch it out and start over…not good!  Because I use old-fashioned oats to bake with, rather than eat as a cereal, I toast the entire container, toss the toasted oats into a resealable bag and I’m set to bake. By the way, use only old-fashioned oats…found this out the hard way!

Start by making heating the applesauce.  Place the applesauce in a four-cup glass measuring cup (you’ll see why later), cover it and nuke it for about 2 minutes.  It needs to just be very, very hot, just shy of boiling.  It may take longer, if the applesauce is cold.  Stir the toasted oatmeal into the hot applesauce and set aside for at least a couple of hours.  The applesauce/oatmeal mixture will thicken up considerable.  That’s a good thing.  That’s what we want to have happen.

Combine the crumb topping mixture; I use my fingers for this.  Set aside while you make the cake.In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

In the measuring cup (or a bowl) that contains your applesauce/oat mixture, add the eggs, sugars, oil, and vanilla.  Using a table fork, beat the mixture together until well combined.  I just beat everything on top of the applesauce mixture together first, then pull in the applesauce mixture.  Pour into the flour mixture; stir just until it comes together.  Do NOT over-mix.  This is a very thick batter.  Scrape the batter into a lightly greased pan.  Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the cake.  Bake in a preheated 350°F until a toothpick comes out clean and the topping is golden.  Cool completely before cutting.  Enjoy with a nice cuppa.

As I said, this is not very sweet and not too cinnamon-y.  If you want a sweeter cake, you may increase the white sugar to 1/2 cup.  Or you can sprinkle cinnamon sugar liberally over the batter, then add the crumb topping.  I think I prefer to do the latter.

Applesauce-Oatmeal Tea Cake

  • Servings: 9-12
  • Difficulty: Moderately Easy
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  • Topping:
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal, toasted
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans or walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • Cake:
  • 1 1/4 cups applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 3/4 cup toasted old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar (see NOTE)
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the topping:  Mix all the dry ingredients together by rubbing with fingers; pour in the melted butter and toss until well combined; set aside. I use my fingers to do this, but a spatula works, too.

For the cake:  In a micro-wave proof bowl, heat the applesauce until very hot, almost boiling.  Stir in oatmeal. Set aside; let stand for at least 60 minutes.  You can do this early in the day or even the night before.  Just cover and let stand on the counter.

When ready to continue, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Coat a 8 x 8-inch or a 9 x 9-inch  baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together your eggs, applesauce/oat mixture, sugars, oil, and vanilla.  Pour into the flour mixture; stir just until it comes together.  Do NOT over-mix.

Scrape the batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top; this is a thick batter.  Sprinkle evenly with topping.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes for the smaller pan.  Place the pan on a rack to cool to room temperature.


  • This is not a very sweet cake.  If you wish, you may increase the amount of white sugar to 1/2 cup.
  • You may make Texas over-sized muffins (or regular sized) by filling each muffin pan well two thirds full; I use an ice cream scoop.  Sprinkle with the topping and bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Each muffin is a lovely way to “share” an afternoon tea with someone special.

Applesauce-Oatmeal Tea Cake Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020.  All rights reserved.