Applesauce Cake

This has been one of my family's favorites for many years now, especially around Christmas time. My dad shared the recipe with me, and his sister Mildred shared it with him. Before Aunt Mildred, I'm not sure of it's origins. My dad used to split the recipe in half between 2 (1/2 sized) bundt cake pans and made 2 cakes to give as gifts. The spicy aroma that permeates our home while this is baking spells C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S to me!

1 15 oz. pkg. raisins
1 stick margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups apple sauce
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice

Put all ingredients above in sauce pan, and heat slowly until sugar melts and ingredients become homogenized. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then add 1 tsp. of baking soda, 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups pecans. Mix together thoroughly. Pour into your preferred baking pans and bake at 300 degrees for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. The type of pan you bake this in, and your oven, has a major impact on cooking times. Check it from time to time using the "toothpick test". I split this recipe between 2, 9 X 5 loaf pans, and bake for about an hour. My dad splits and bakes his for 1 1/2 hours in 2 old stoneware 1/2 pound cake pans I made years ago. Another option I use is to toss in about a handful of dried cranberries, a splash or 2 of orange juice, and the zest of one orange. After you cool the cakes, store in plastic bags or cookie tins until you serve. Give the cakes a day or so for the flavors to merge. I soak a tea towel in red wine and wrap around the cake for a few days, or add some apple and/or orange slices to the bag or tin for added moisture.