Olivia Walton's Applesauce Cake

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 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. 

Yield: 12
Author: Tina Butler | Mommy's Kitchen
Olivia Waltons Applesauce Cake

Olivia Waltons Applesauce Cake

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.
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 35 MinTotal time: 1 H & 4 M


  • 3  1/2 cups self-rising flour, sifted (do not 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 use homemade
  • 2 cups golden raisins (can use less)
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
Whiskey Frosting
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons cream or half and half
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon whiskey


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans (remove excess flour). I use Bakers Joy spray with flour. Set prepared cake pans aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Alternately stir in the flour mixture and applesauce. Beat on medium speed until everything is combined. Fold in the raisins and nuts.
  6. 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)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Frost cooled cake. 


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. Use a 12 cup capacity bundt pan (sprayed with non stick spray with flour (Bakers Joy) and bake cake for 1 hour and test for doneness using a toothpick. Thin the frosting out and drizzle over cake.  

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adapted from: The Walton's

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Unknown 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.
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!
Unknown 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!
Susie's Reviews 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!
Unknown 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.
Unknown 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.
Ali 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.
Anonymous said…
We loved the program and would love to try the cake. We are not fans of raisins so wondering if we can just omit them or do you have a recommendation to substitute? Love your recipes! Thanks so much!!

Tina Butler said…
Hi Terry!
If you dislike raisins I would just leave them out. Same with the pecans. I'm sure the cake will turn out just fine omitting any of those o two ingredients.
Pamela said…
Vanilla extract or imitation rum extract or even butter extract would work to replace the whiskey just don't add as much of them I'd think
Pamela said…
I loved watching the Waltons and still watch the reruns all the time and especially on the holidays! Love the show so much we even named our cat Ester after Grandma Walton! She long passed now but I have such fond & loving memories of this show and still enjoy watching it! Times were tough back then but they had each other and all that love in there family! Doesn't get much better than that! Plus I grew up in an old 2 story Victorian home as my Grandmother raised me & my sister and we were a lot like the Waltons as my grandmother & grandfather, my great grandmother, my Auntie, 2 uncles and my Dad were all living there! Our dinner table was like the Waltons and every Sunday after church all the out of town aunts & uncles and my cousins would come for Sunday dinner! It was like Thanksgiving every Sunday!!! Plus we grew all of our own food! It was wonderful! So I am going to really enjoy making this cake! Just might make it a holiday tradition from now on every year in memory of my grandparents! 😇💗😁👍
NoPlateLikeHome said…
This recipe looks delicious. I love the Bourbon in the icing. This is a great fall dessert to make with homemade apple sauce.
Anonymous said…
I made this cake and frosting the only thing I did differently was to add so fresh chopped apple. Can’t wait to try it.
kris10sleathers said…
Hey! I'm gluten intolerant and also have egg white allergies and can only use the yolk, so I think with some adaptation, I can make this work, because I've always wanted it!

Do you think it would work out just fine if I halved the recipe to only make one cake layer?

Also, do you know what to use for a sub for the whiskey?

lisa g. said…
Hi. How long do you bake the Bundt version? Thank you & it looks yummy!
Tina Butler said…
Use a 12 cup capacity bundt pan (sprayed with non stick spray and floured). Bake cake for about 1 hour and test for doneness using a toothpick. Thin the frosting out by using more milk and drizzle over cake.
Unknown said…
Going to make this cake tonight. Have not seen very good reviews on the original recipe that you first used. Sounds like you got things dialed in now. It sounds really good.
Bob and Carla said…
Hello, I live in a high altitude area and self-rising flour doesn't work up here. Do you have a suggestion for making the cake with regular flour? Thanks! Carla
Unknown said…
Hello! This looks like an amazing recipe - wondering if I can make as cupcakes? Yes, correct? Thank you!
Me and my sisters and brothers we had the applesauce cake when we were all kids we loved it.
Bonnie said…
Looks yummy! "The Homecoming" is one of my favorite films ever! I have to say, though, I don't remember seeing the finished cake in any scenes. I remember her inviting a neighbor to stay and have some saying "we'll slice one warm from the oven" so that would mean there wouldn't have been frosting on it. Which scene shows the cake?
Anonymous said…
How about apple 🍏 crown
Joe Bacon said…
This reminds me of my grandmother's applesauce cake but she would frost it with butterscotch icing and it was truly scrumptious!
Anonymous said…
How about crasins?
Anonymous said…
Thank you for sharing your recipe
Anonymous said…
I find it really hard to believe that Olivia would have made this frosting using whiskey since she made it abundantly clear in almost every episode that she was highly against any type of alcohol! Just saying.
Tina Butler said…
This recipe is from the book "The Home Coming" from the Waltons before the Tv Episodes aired. Regarding the show. look up the episode called "The Prize" and you will see Olivia made a raspberry cake for the fair and used the some of "the recipe" to make her white frosting on her cake. She won first prize, so she did you alchol in her cake.
Bonnie said…
Thank you for your reply! I found this and it seems to be a communication from Earl Hamner himself to a publication he wrote for. Pretty neat!!
Anonymous said…
I got to make this one
Unknown said…
I made this cake, followed the recipe to aT and it came out very heavy and crumbly. Turned out to be more like a coffee cake than an actual cake. I did follow It correctly. Was it supposed to be crumbly and not firm? Needless to say I was very disappointed.
Tina Butler said…
I'm not sure what happened. Did you use self rising flour? I haven't had that issue since making the adjust from the original recipe. The recipe I have written on my blog is with all the new adjustments. I am not in your kitchen so I can't tell you what happened.
Anonymous said…
You could use a walnut extract to flavor the frosting.
Anonymous said…
I use dates sometimes when it calls for raisins
Anonymous said…
This is also yummy with Caramel icing!
Anonymous said…
She used the recipe that Grandma Walton took from Grandpa Walton’s secret stash
Anonymous said…
What size pans are called for 8" or 9"
Tina Butler said…
The recipe states 9 inch round cake pans. You can also use a 12 cups size bundt pan.
Donny Campbell said…
Gonna make this for Thanksgiving