Joseph’s Cake (Applesauce Fruit Cake)

Name: Marcia Brumit Kropf
Class Year: 1967
Country of Residence: USA

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

This is a recipe passed down through four generations of women (that I know of) in my family. It is a recipe that passed from Europe to the U.S. and I am sharing it back again. Making it is an annual event in my family. This is a recipe from Margaret Heigert Joseph (1835-1906). She was born in Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany and immigrated to the U.S., settling in Glasgow, Howard County, Missouri. She passed the recipe to her daughter, Margaret Joseph Keehart (1862-1932) who passed it to her daughter, Maude Keehart Brumit (1894-1968) who passed it to her daughter-in-law, Patricia Patterson Brumit (1919-2008) who passed it to me. 

When I went off to Mount Holyoke – long before Federal Express and overnight postal service – my mother was very concerned that I have a birthday cake on my birthday in early January. Her solution was to make the fruit cake for me over the school break to carry back to college. I was the only college student I knew serving fruit cake for her birthday! My mother made the fruitcake for me every year, until just before her death in 2008. I was stunned at how much I missed it, this gift I so took for granted and thought was so funny. I vowed to pick up the mantle and make the fruitcake for the next holidays, a tangible link to the women of my family. I have kept that vow and make a batch of fruitcakes to share every year.

Joseph’s Cake (Applesauce Fruit Cake)

Serves 12-24. Takes approx. 1 hour, plus 2.5 hours baking

2 c. raisins, dark
2 c. raisins, white
2 c. currants
2 c. dates, quartered
2 c. citron
2 c. pitted cherries in heavy syrup
2 c. walnuts
12 whole walnuts, almonds, and pitted cherries in heavy syrup
3 c. applesauce
2/3 c. crisco
2 c. sugar
5 c. flour
2 t. cloves
2 t. nutmeg
2 T. soda
2 t. vanilla

1. Combine the dry fruit and nuts in a bowl and stir 2 T. of the flour through them to separate.
2. Grease and flour the bottom of your pans.
3. In a large bowl, beat Crisco. Add sugar and continue to beat.
4. Sift together the flour, cloves, and nutmeg.
5. Combine the applesauce, with 2 T. of cherry juice and the baking soda. It will foam.
6. Add the flour mixture to the Crisco and sugar, alternating with the applesauce.
7. Add the vanilla.
8. Add the dry fruit and nuts, and the drained pitted cherries (saving some to decorate the top of the cakes)
9. Pour into cake pans, decorating the top. If using bundt pans, put the decorative pieces into the pan first.
10. Bake at 300 degrees for 2.5 hours.
11. Test for doneness by placing a metal/wooden skewer toward the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Cool. Loosen the sides and remove from pans. Wrap in waxed paper and then aluminum foil. Will keep for six months. [Note: You can also soak cheesecloth in brandy and wrap the cake before wrapping in waxed paper and foil.]

NOTE: My mother baked her fruit cakes in angel food cake pans and placed a raw apple in the center before wrapping. This recipe would make two cakes. I find that people prefer smaller portions now and use small bundt pans. This recipe would make 8 midsize bundt cakes.

Applesauce Fruit Cake


Family Recipe

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