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Discovering K C Orange Cake - a recipe from 1933

Years ago my mother gave me a huge collection of old recipes dating from the 1920’s and early 30’s. Hand-written ones on note cards, recipes cut from old newspapers, and dozens of little cook booklets and brochures from different food companies and butchers are all stored in the same vintage tin the original owner had used. The collection also includes old, handwritten letters in their original envelopes with $.03 stamps still attached. There are stacks and stacks of these little pieces of history.

It had been forever since I had pulled out the collection, but Saturday my good friend Janel came over and we looked over each piece. She proposed that we each pick out a recipe and make it. I picked K C Orange Cake with Orange filling from the “The Cook’s Book” from K C Baking Powder, Copyright 1933. Janel picked a recipe for bran cookies. We both found that recipes from that era didn’t include baking times or oven temperatures. Her recipe didn’t even say how much flour to add to the cookie dough. However, both recipes were a success!

K C Orange cake, modified only due to necessity from the original recipe

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Zest from one orange
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature

Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Separate eggs, saving yolks in one small bowl, and the whites from 2 eggs in a different small mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the orange juice and zest. Add egg yolks and beat thoroughly. Alternately add the milk and flour mixture and beat until smooth, scraping often. Fold the egg whites into the batter by hand, using a rubber scraper.

Equally divide cake batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cakes test done. Cool thoroughly. To assemble the cake, put half of the orange filling between the layers, and spread the remaining filling over the top. Press some orange sections into the filling on the top of the cake.

Orange filling

  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix the cornstarch with the cold water in a small bowl. Combine cornstarch mixture with the juices and half of the sugar in a medium-size saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until sauce becomes very thick, stirring constantly.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg with the remaining sugar. Whisk some of the hot sauce into the egg mixture, then add this back in to the sauce in the saucepan. Stir constantly until egg is cooked, about 2 minutes. Take orange sauce off the heat and stir in the butter and salt. Spoon into a mixing bowl to cool, covering the top with plastic wrap to prevent forming skin on surface. Use as filling and topping for orange cake.

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