Mommy's Kitchen - Recipes From my Texas Kitchen: Olivia Walton's Applesauce Cake with Whiskey Frosting

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Olivia Walton's Applesauce Cake with Whiskey Frosting

This cake is the one Olivia Walton made in the movie "The Homecoming", which was the basis for the TV series "The Walton's" and mentioned in several of the television episodes as John-Boys favorite cake. 
Today I'm sharing a recipe for a delicious cake! Not just any cake, but Olivia Walton's Applesauce Cake! If you're a fan of the TV series, The Walton's I'm pretty sure you've heard about Olivia's famous Applesauce Cake. 

Whenever there is something to celebrate in the Walton house, Olivia would always make her special Applesauce Cake. This delicious cake is also featured in an Earl Hamner's Novel. "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" airing in 1971 upon which the series pilot was based.  

I watch The Homecoming every Christmas and I still watch all the Walton's episodes on INSP. Olivia despised "The Recipe" (bootleg whiskey) from the Baldwin sisters, but she made an exception and used a bit of "The Recipe" in the frosting for her applesauce and raspberry cake.  

In the episode from season three "The First Day" which was about John-Boys first day at Boatwright University Olivia makes John-Boy, his favorite cake which was her famous Applesauce Cake to celebrate his first day of college. At the end of this episode John-Boy is enjoying a slice of this delicious applesauce layer cake after experiencing a horrible day of mishaps at the University.  

That applesauce cake looked so good and after hearing all about Olivia's famous cake from all the Walton episodes, I finally baked it using the recipe I found online (which is also included in The Homecoming). 

To be honest, I made this recipe three times before it actually turned out. The first time I baked this cake I made it exactly as the recipe was written, but it turned out very heavy and dense. The second time I made it, I used cake flour because the original recipe did not state what type of flour was used, but that recipe was a flop as well. 

After almost giving up, I decided to try and make the recipe one last time. I took all the comments on The Waltons forum into consideration and went from there. People had mentioned that the cake was too heavy, too dense, not sweet enough, and just plain bland.

So after a little experimenting, I finally found the perfect combination. I used self -rising flour instead of all purpose and omitted the baking soda and salt from the recipe. I added one extra egg, vanilla extract, increased the sugar by 1/4 cup and adjusted the spices a bit. To my surprise the cake turned out!!!!  I was so excited and even more excited to finally be able to share this recipe with y'all.  

I have to say the addition of the Whiskey included in the frosting really does make this cake. I hope you'll give this recipe a try. If you do make it, please stop back by and leave me a comment letting me know how you like it. 

Olivia Walton's Applesauce Cake with Whiskey Frosting

3 - 1/2 cups self-rising flour, sifted (no substitutes)
2 1/2 - teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 - teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 - teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 - cup butter, softened
1 1/4 - cups sugar
1 - teaspoon vanilla extract
3 - eggs
2 - cups applesauce, jarred or homemade
2 - cups golden raisins 
1- cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

Jane's Whiskey Frosting

5 - tablespoons butter, softened
3 - tablespoons cream or half and half
3 - cups powdered sugar 
4 - tablespoons bourbon whiskey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans (remove excess flour). Set prepared cake pans aside. 

Add the raisins to a small bowl, add one cup very hot water and let the raisins sit for 10 minutes, then drain. This will soften and plump up the raisins. 

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and spices. Remove 1/2 cup of the flour mixture into a small bowl and and stir into the nuts and raisins. Set both aside. 

In another large bowl, with an electric mixer or kitchen aid mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add eggs one at at time, beating until combined. 

Alternately stir in the flour mixture and applesauce. Beat on medium speed until everything is combined. Fold in the raisins and nuts. 

Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean (about 25-35 minutes)

Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing. Turn cakes out of pans onto a baking sheet or baking rack. Cool cakes completely before frosting with Jane's Whiskey Frosting. 

To prepare the frosting in a medium size bowl, combine butter, powdered sugar, then cream and whiskey. Using and electric mix or kitchen aid mixer, whip until creamy, adding more cream if needed to reach desired consistency.

Frost cooled cake. 

servings: 12
adapted from: The Walton's

Cook's Note: I've seen this recipe in The Homecoming using a bundt cake pan and then I saw it again in The First Day episode as a layer cake. By far I prefer this recipe as a layer cake for special occasions and during the holidays as a bundt cake with the frosting made a little thinner drizzled on top. 

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Alicia Polburn said... #

You can always cut thru the middle of the bundt cake remove the top have frost the center than put the top back on and make a glaze to drizzle over the bundt

PJ said... #

I remember this cake from the show very well and my Grandmother and I made it several times and had the same issues with it being very dense and heavy. Never thought to try to adjust the ingredients because my Grandmother had always said a lot of the depression era cakes and treats had the same issues because of the shortage on sugar, etc.

Thank you for publishing your version of this recipe and also for jogging a distant memory of my Grandmother.

Erinn Sluka said... #

Did you say Whiskey? How fantastic is this recipe. I pinned it to save for my next get together. I bet it is delicious Erinn at

Tina Butler said... #

@PJ I have been told the same thing. Cakes were not as sweet since sugar was limited and hard to come by during the depression. Also a lot of the older cake recipes are dense. Using self rising flour made all the difference because it had the leaving agents already added. With just AP flour it did not have baking powder listed on the recipe,so I really think there was just too much flour and not enough of a leaving agent for the recipe. I only altered it slightly with the flour and spices. It had way too much cloves and not enough cinnamon.

Debra Hawkins said... #

I have to admit I have never seen the series but I have often heard my parents talking about it. I am going to have to try this soon. I love applesauce type cakes and this one looks absolutely incredible. Thanks for the recipe!

Censie Sawyer said... #

YUM!! I have to bring dessert to a party next weekend, totally making this one. Great recipe and sounds so good. I think the whole group will enjoy it.

Heather D said... #

I love to add applesauce to pretty much any cake and brownies too. It helps cut out some of the fat when you do half oil / half applesauce or all applesauce. It adds so much moistness to the cake!

Susan Quackenbush said... #

This recipe looks out of this world! I've saved it to my google drive so I can try making it later - I can't wait!

Alicia said... #

We used to watch the Walton's every week when I was a kid, but I don't remember this cake. I'm going to have to dig up that recipe. I can completely see her saying how much she didn't like the "recipe." Lol. That wouldn't bother me, though and I think it would add a nice dimension to the flavor. I am going to have to try this. Thank you for all your work modifying till it was right! You are more tenacious than I am.

Lisa Codina said... #

I'm not really a fan of whisky but I have to say that that frosting sounds really good! The cake looks really moist!

monicazyoung said... #

This sounds like a cake my grandma used to make. Never got the recipe, but as I am reading yours it seems very similar to what I remember she used back then. I cannot wait to try it and relive childhood memories. I know what I am making for Easter cake now.

Alison Rost said... #

I haven't thought about the Waltons in such a long time. My grandma and I watched it every week. I also remember he making an applesauce cake .. but it was denser than this. She would have loved the idea of self-rising flour for sure. Not to mention the whisky frosting! Every night before going to bed she had a shot of whisky (on the rocks). Thanks for a fun memory.

Anonymous said... #

did you use unsweetened applesauce?

Tina Butler said... #

I used homemade cinnamon applesauce that I canned last year. It was a cinnamon sugar applesauce.

Anonymous said... #

What could you replace the whiskey with

Tina Butler said... #

You could leave the whiskey out and just add more cream.