Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Uh-Oh Orange Cake

Happy Summer!

Summer celebrations call for summer treats especially light, citrus-y flavors to be enjoyed out-of-doors. The idea for this sweet post came from two neighborhood girls Jenna and Stephanie who are currently interested in the art of cake decorating. During a recent evening with our Bocce league we were planning the next week's treats and cake was the unanimous choice for celebrating the league's summer birthdays. Immediately the girls made a barter -- if I made the cake they would decorate it. Deal.

The first question was what kind of cakes could the notebook offer? Banana-walnut, date, vanilla ice-box, the list was endless. After all, Grandma always had a sweet tooth. I settled on two finalists -- classic chocolate (in Grandma's own handwriting with added notes in margin) or Mrs. Kenneth R. Johnson's Orange Cake. Stephanie said orange was refreshing and I agreed. Plus, Mrs. Kenneth R. Johnson was my Grandma's sister-in-law. Orange you glad?

"Our thanks to Mrs. K. R. Johnson for some of her Favorite Recipes" is how the column begins. I am assuming my great-aunt neatly jotted this recipe (along with another for Cranberry Ice), sealed them in an envelope and mailed it off to the newspaper for inclusion in the column. What a thrill it must have been at the time to see her name and recipes in the paper!

Orange Layer Cake -- submitted by Mrs. Kenneth R. Johnson

2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
Grated rind 1 lemon
Grated rind 1 orange
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, unbeaten
2 T lemon juice
5 T orange juice
2 T water

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, sift together 3 times. Add lemon and orange rind to butter, cream thoroughly; add sugar gradually and cream together until light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each. Add flour alternately with combined fruit juices and water, a small amount at a time. Beat after each addition until smooth. Bake in two greased 9-inch layer pans in moderate oven (375) 20 minutes or until done.

Filling for Orange Cake

2 oranges, juice and rind
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
2 T flour
1 t butter
1 T water

Mix and cook over low flame until thick enough to spread. Use 7-minute icing on top.

The cake came together very nicely with no trouble. When I grease layer pans i normally reach for PAM cooking spray but I decided to be traditional and grab the butter wrapper instead. I liberally buttered the pans and poured in the batter. The cake batter easily could have fit in one layer pan but I figured two pans saved the trouble of sawing the layer in half and I went with it. 20 minutes in the oven and all was well -- until I tried to get the cakes out of the pans. One cake plopped out just fine but the other stuck like it had been glued to the pan. I scraped the remnants and rearranged them the best I could and I sentenced the ruined layer to the bottom of the cake. The filling would be the spackle.

The filling recipe also came together fast -- a boon to a busy mid-century housewife. It resembled and tasted like a standard orange curd but sweeter, thankfully, than say a marmalade. Sure enough the filling help that crumbling cake together like mortar and I was saved. As a good measure I popped the whole thing in the fridge to insure that the girls would be able to get frosting on the thing in the morning. They will also be having to spackle and mortar around the middle to achieve a smooth coat.

 So very cute! Well done girls!
Stephanie and Jenna, Aces of Cake.

And spackle they did. The cake held with the addition of the girls' buttercream and then fondant letters were a very nice touch indeed. The cake itself was pleasantly orang-y but surprisingly dense with a large-textured crumb. The recipe called for cake flour and I have not had an occasion to work with cake flour until now. Not sure if I was missing something. Perhaps to improve the moistness a single layer rather than two would be in order. The girls' vanilla buttercream was just right with the orange essence and on a warm night cake was just the thing to celebrate with friends.

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