Applesauce Cake with Poached Quince and Rum Caramel Sauce

Todd Gray

Equinox Restaurant, Washington, D.C.

The combination of spicy cake, quince, caramel, and ice cream is homey and delicious. Gray made his own spiced ice cream to serve with this dessert, but vanilla ice cream works well, too.


  • Applesauce Cake:

  • 1 cup (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups applesauce, puréed until very smooth
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 scant teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Quince:

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups late-harvest dessert wine (sweet Riesling or Semillon)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 quinces, peeled and cored
  • Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 ounces Myer’s Rum or other dark rum
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 quart premium vanilla ice cream


Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Grease and flour a 10 x 13-inch pan.

Cream the butter with the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the eggs, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined. The mixture will have a curdled appearance. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-applesauce mixture. Beat until well combined. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Cool.

To make the quince, combine the water, wine, cloves, cinnamon stick, rosemary, and salt in a deep-sided saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the quinces to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Let the quinces cool in the liquid. When cool, slice the fruit horizontally in 1/2-inch slices, starting in the middle of the quince, so you will have the largest possible slices. You will need at least 8 slices. Set aside.

To make the caramel sauce, combine the sugar and the water in a saucepan. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the mixture has turned an amber color. Watch to be sure it doesn’t burn. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the heavy cream, stirring constantly. It will bubble up at first. Stir in the rum and the salt and let cool.

If you want to plate the dessert the way chef Gray did, cut out rounds of cake with a 2 1/2-inch-diameter round cutter. Place a circle of cake on a plate and lay a slice of quince on top. Put a scoop of ice cream on top of the quince and drizzle the caramel all around. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of cutting out rounds, simply cut the cake into squares and serve with the accompaniments. It’s delicious either way.


8 servings