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Win the holiday potluck wars with Libby’s Bombsauce Apple Cake

For most of high school and college, I worked part-time at a local deli/bakery/pantry called Pasta & Co. I dished up a lot of scrumptious food over the years at both the Bellevue and University Village locations, but by far the best-the item I would crave after just a few days off work-was the “Santori Cake,” a moist, sugary treat we sold by the slice.

Let’s just say I indulged in enough pieces of this cake to fully earn my “freshman fifteen” pounds at the University of Washington. (New college students, beware free snacks! They are not always your friends).

After leaving the glamorous world of pasta for the radio biz, I missed the Santori Cake enough to steal the formula and make it for every brunch, potluck, and bake sale that came my way…eventually incorporating my own special twists (less sugar, whole wheat flour, and tweaked amounts of cinnamon and vanilla).

It is definitely my go-to, crowd-pleasing dessert, and I have promised to send the recipe to countless people.

So – Here you go! Hope Libby’s Bombsauce Apple Cake makes it to your table this holiday season.

Libby’s Bombsauce Apple Cake
(adapted from the “Pasta & Co Encore” cookbook by Marcella Rosene)

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

3/4 cup canola oil

3 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large tart apples (I use Granny Smiths), peeled, cored, and sliced to 1/4 inch thick slices. (The thinner the slices, the better the cake’s texture will be!)

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional. I don’t like ’em but my boyfriend does).

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

— Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch shallow baking pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F for a metal pan, 300 degrees F for glass.

— In a large bowl, blend sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add eggs, oil and vanilla, mix well.

— Stir in apple slices (and walnuts if you opt for them).

— Add flour, one cup at a time, stirring well after each cup. This will be a VERY thick batter, and you will probably think you can’t possibly stir in all three cups of flour. You can! Be brave.

— Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes for metal pans, 1 hour 30 minutes for glass. Use a toothpick to test doneness. Let cool partially before slicing or you will regret that burned tongue!

I recommend serving the cake warm, with vanilla or caramel ice cream. It is also delectable the next day for brunch, and I have stored it up to 5 days, wrapped tightly in plastic.

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