'The Waltons': Olivia Walton's Famous Applesauce Cake Recipe

Food was a big part of family life on The Waltons. The show’s family dinner scenes are famous (though shooting them was reportedly not so much fun). And whenever the family had something to celebrate, there was a good chance mom Olivia Walton (Michael Learned) would whip up her applesauce cake. If you’ve ever wanted to recreate the magic of a Walton family celebration by serving this treat, you can.

The origins of ‘The Waltons’ 

The story of The Waltons begins with Earl Hamner Jr. In 1961, he wrote a novel titled Spencer’s Mountain that was inspired by his childhood in rural Virginia during the Great Depression. It was the basis for a 1963 movie of the same name starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara. His 1970 book, The Homecoming, was also inspired by his childhood. It was made into a TV movie, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, in 1971. That film was so successful that CBS decided to create an entire series focusing on the close-knit Walton family and their adventures. Hamner provided the narration at the beginning and end of the TV episodes. 

An applesauce cake recipe is including in ‘The Walton Family Cookbook’

The Waltons was popular enough to inspire a cookbook, which was published in 1976. The Walton Family Cookbook includes recipes from the cast members, including Learned, Judy Norton (Mary-Ellen Walton), Ralph Waite (John Walton), and Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton). It also features the Hamner family applesauce cake recipe as well as instructions for making the boozy bourbon frosting used to top the dessert.

How to make ‘The Waltons’ applesauce cake 

To make the The Waltons’ applesauce cake, you’ll need the following ingredients. 

  • 3½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cloves 
  • 2 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1 cup chopped black walnuts 
  • 2 cups light raisins 
  • 1 cup butter 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 cups applesauce 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 3-quart cake mold and set aside. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, combine a ½ cup of the flour and spice mixture with the nuts and raisins. Set both aside. 

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually the sugar, beating until smooth. Vigorously beat in the eggs. Mixing well, gradually stir in the flour and spice mixture, alternating with the applesauce. Add the raisins and nuts. Add the batter to the prepared cake mold. Bake for 1 hour. 

As the cake bakes, prepare the frosting (recipe below). When the cake is done, remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, remove to a cooling rack. Once the cake is completely cool, decorate with the whiskey frosting, then slice and serve. 

To make the whiskey icing, you will need: 

  • ¼ cup of butter
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 2 tbsp bourbon

Cream the butter in a bowl. Gradually at the confectioners sugar and salt. Then, add the cream and bourbon, whipping until completely smooth.

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