With a little freezer space and a few hours before the big day, delicious pies and cakes can be made ahead and frozen, leaving our ovens free for that big ol' bird and all the fixings to go with it. Talk about convenience; this autumnal cake skips the work of peeling and chopping apples by using applesauce. Add some crystallized ginger and raisins and you've got a dessert to be reckoned with. Serve with cinnamon or vanilla ice cream for an extra treat. -- Jeanne Besser
Hands on time: 20 minutes Total time: 1 hour and 20 minutes Serves: 12
3 1/3 cups cake flour 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature 1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar 3 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 cups unsweetened chunky applesauce 1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger 1/4 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-cup nonstick bundt pan. In a bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger and salt and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until thoroughly combined and fluffy, scraping down the sides periodically. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, alternating with the applesauce, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in the crystallized ginger and raisins. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes, and every 10 minutes thereafter, to make sure the cake isn't browning too quickly. If necessary, cover with foil. Cool the cake on a rack for 15 minutes in the pan. Run a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the cake out onto the rack. When completely cooled, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in a 2-gallon freezer zip-top bag, or cover tightly with aluminum foil and freeze. Defrost, wrapped, at room temperature, and serve. -- Adapted from "Williams-Sonoma Cakes"
Per serving: 426 calories (percent of calories from fat, 36), 5 grams protein, 65 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 17 grams fat, 88 milligrams cholesterol, 389 milligrams sodium.