Saturday, August 27, 2011

Retro Recipes: Orange Cream Cake

One of the blogs that I adore is Forgotten Bookmarks - whose author  runs a used bookstore and finds unique bookmarks (old photos, postcards, letters) in estate-sale books, and posts them. He runs a sister blog, updated less frequently, called Handwritten Recipes.

Recently he posted a recipe that intrigued me, for "Orange Cream Cake," by "Mystery Chef." I'm not sure what exactly I liked about it. Maybe it was because it featured handwriting that looked like my grandma's. Or maybe it was because it was found in an antique Booth Tarkington novel (not The Magnificent Ambersons, which he also wrote, which was made into a movie I love by Orson Welles - but still, Booth Tarkington).Or maybe it was the utter lack of instructions after the ingredient list - it felt like a challenge.

Apparently I'm not the only one who loves a challenge, because next thing I knew, Brewed Bohemian had tackled the recipe and posted suggested directions.

It sounded good, but it also sounded like it needed frosting, specifically vanilla frosting - to make it kind of an orange creamsicle. Emma and I also prefer our cakes to be of the "cup" variety, so we made some minor variations with the baking time. We made the entire thing in my Kitchenaid mixer, folding in the beaten egg whites at the end.

Orange Cream Cake
1/4 c. butter
1 1/3 c sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3 t. baking powder
1/3 t. salt
2/3 c. milk
1 t. orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put paper liners into cupcake tins.
Separate the eggs. Whip egg white until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar, then add egg yolks.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
Mix the orange extract into the milk
Alternate adding the flour mixture & milk mixture into the sugar/butter/egg mixture
Fold in egg whites.

Divide batter among 12 cupcake tins; bake for 22 minutes, until cupcakes are lightly golden and spring back to the touch.

Emma and I were super excited to try these, so we burned our fingers and ate one of the cupcakes right out of the oven. It was hot but delicious - a very light and delicate cake, not dry at all, with a slight chewiness at the edges.

We decided to go with a traditional vanilla buttercream frosting, and we used the recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, one of my most reliable standby cookbooks.

Traditional Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Oddly enough, the frosting was delicious and the cupcakes were delicious - but we didn't really like the combination. The light cakes were overwhelmed by the rich buttercream. The combination improved the next day, but the cupcakes were best right after they cooled.

No, I do not decoratively pipe my frosting. I heap it on until it seems like there's enough, then I add a bit more.

We agreed we want to make the cupcakes again, but just have them plain. We had been debating getting some root beer extract and making root beer float cupcakes, but I think a different type of cake would be better suited to that. We're also thinking we might make them even smaller - as mini-cupcakes or possibly in Madeleine molds - to capture more of the chewy edges in each bite.

That's my contribution to this week's Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Be sure to check out the other entries this week!

"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."


  1. What fun. Most of one of my grandmother's recipes are just lists of ingredients with no instructions. That used to throw me off, but really, it's often not that difficult to figure out what to do.

    Funny about the frosting with the cupcakes. The Madeleine variation sounds good.

  2. Root beet float cupcakes? Count me in -- root beer is about the only soda I really enjoy.

  3. Yum! Those look deelish! I've got frozen, old bananas thawing today, so am hoping to make it back to the kitchen for some banana bread later today.

  4. Boy oh boy, these sound great! I wonder if you could use orange juice instead of extract. I'll try and see! And I want to check your links. Thanks.

  5. Jessica, thanks so much for the "stay safe" hurricane wishes; I appreciate that. Those cupcakes look and sound yummy - we both have a sweet tooth.

  6. I like your sense of adventure with this cake recipe. I also like the way you do your frosting. Seriously. I do it the same way and I call it artistic. lol

  7. Looks simple but it is still a mouth watering cake. Yummy! I love to try this with my kids.

  8. Wow! These look exactly like my grandmothers cupcakes! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe with us!


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