Smells evoke very emotional responses in me. I have certain trigger scents– pumpkin pie, blown out birthday candles, cigarettes for example– that bring about particularly vivid images, feelings, and memories. AP Psychology tells me this is a programmed reaction to Pavlovian conditioning, but I like to think of it in a more romantic sense. Like, maybe the nostrils are the true windows to the soul or something, ya feel?
With this cake, the scent is the first thing that hits you. Just as the thing came out of the oven, I leaned in, took a deep breath and melted into a warm, blissful puddle on the kitchen floor... and that was before the brown butter icing came into play. This applesauce cake is everything that a fall dessert yearns to be: unbelievably plush and moist, rich with spices and apple flavor and accented with the sweet nuttiness of brown butter. It tastes like comfort and nostalgia and Frank Sinatra.