Waste not, want not. This old adage resonates through your mind as you survey your refrigerator or pantry with fingers drumming on the door as your mind races to make use of items that have seen better days. You discover a long forgotten chicken breast or half used lemon that has gone to the other side. You say your regretful goodbyes as you toss the wasted items to its garbage grave. You mumble to yourself that you will never neglect these precious provisions again.
You begin to scour cookbooks from cooks of eras gone by — the pioneers who had little to no way to preserve food and didn’t waste a thing to families in the depression era who had very few options and took creativity to a whole new level while making do with what they had. You find the inspiration you need to waste not. Your eyes fall on the loaf of white bread starting to resemble the dryness of tumbleweed. Breadcrumb cake jumps off the page of a cookbook. With just a handful of ingredients you take dry, stale bread and transform it into a moist applesauce cake perfect for a light breakfast or a mellow end to a satisfying meal. Maybe you could be a pioneer. You are, at least for the afternoon.
— 2 1/2 cups bread crumbs, divided
— 4 tablespoons butter
— 3 eggs, separated
— 2 cups applesauce
— 4 tablespoons sugar, divided.
— 1 teaspoon vanilla
— 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
— 1/8 teaspoon salt
— 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
— 1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter over low heat and sauté 2 cups of the breadcrumbs until lightly browned. Beat egg yolks with a whisk and blend in applesauce, 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla and cardamom. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with salt until almost stiff. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold egg whites into applesauce mixture. Stir in chopped walnuts and sautéed bread crumbs. Butter an 8 to 9 inch round cake pan and sprinkle remaining breadcrumbs on top. Pour in batter and top with apple slices. Lightly press apple slices down into the batter. Bake for about an hour or until lightly browned and firm. Cool and chill overnight. Serve with plain yogurt or whipped cream. Store in the refrigerator.
Source: Adapted from “American Food”