I watched my DVD of “The Homecoming” the other night. In the movie, Olivia Walton bakes her traditional Christmas applesauce cake. Feeling inspired, I went looking for the recipe. I found a number of recipes for “Olivia Walton’s Applesauce Cake.” One recipe said “this is the cake she made in the movie.” (It wasn’t). One was said to have been printed in the back of author Earl Hamer’s book. They may have both been authentic Walton family recipes but they certainly don’t jive with what we know about the cake made by the “fictional” Olivia in the movie. That’s the cake I wanted. And so, I went off to create a recipe much more like the one described in the movie.
I started by going over every clue the movie gives us. Olivia goes to the basement and gathers apples which means she used homemade applesauce which she would have had to have made first before she baking her cake. We know the cake has lots of nutmeg because Grandma Walton complains that it has too much. We also know that Olivia bought 2 lbs. of sugar to make enough cake for her large family (although it was during the depression and slices were likely to be small). The cake has walnuts. Olivia asked her children to crack them. She would have used a basic cake pan, not a fancy bundt pan. And although the “official” recipes include Whiskey Frosting, the Olivia in the movie would have NEVER made that. In the movie, when John Boy presents his mother with a gift of eggnog from the Baldwin sisters, Olivia, believing it to be whiskey, goes into a rage and screams at him to take it out and dump it on the ground. Olivia did not allow whiskey in the house. No, the cake made by the Olivia in the movie would have been a basic, simple unfrosted recipe with common ingredients.
I already had such a recipe in my collection. It was one made by my mother often during the 1960’s when our family was on a tight budget. With just a bit of tweeking, I was able to make a cake that I am sure is closer to what the “movie” Olivia baked on that cold, and snowy Christmas Eve.
“The Homecoming” Christmas Eve Applesauce Cake
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 cups sugar
- 1 cup applesauce
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugar. Stir baking soda into the applesauce. Add it to the creamed mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased and floured 8×8″ square pan. Bake for 35 minutes.