Some foods are very inspiring. Some recipes are, too. The scents of different ingredients and the look and feel of a batter or dough as it comes together can spark different memories, inspire different feelings. I would venture to say that the most commonly invoked thought is a memory from childhood, followed by flashbacks to well-liked foods made by friends or eaten at particular restaurants. As I started to make this cake, I was immediately hit with one thought and it wasn’t in either of the above categories. It was one word: California.
The Orange Kiss-Me Cake, like the Swedish Toscas and Caramel Oatmeal Brownies that I featured this week, is an old Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe. It won the $25,000 grand prize in the 1950 contest – the second ever Bake Off. The cake is simple and easy to make, but has an unusual combination of ingredients added for flavor and texture: a mixture of orange, walnuts and raisins that has been almost pureed in the food processor. Blending these three ingredients triggered my “california” thought because all three are well-known California produced foods (CA produces 99% of the country’s walnuts, 95% of the country’s raisins and is the 2nd highest producer of oranges). I want to rename it the California Kiss Me Cake.
The cake is extremely moist and flavorful. The moistness comes both from the sweet, syrupy topping that soaks the hot-from-the-oven cake when it comes out of the oven and from the raisins in the batter. The raisins are chopped up so finely that you can’t really taste them – in fact, my tasters had no idea that there were raisins in the cake at all – but you can taste a fruity sweetness and that lovely, slightly sticky moistness that raisins have.
I would make this again in a heartbeat. It’s great as a breakfast cake or served with coffee. I opted to omit walnuts from the topping of the cake since I’m not a particular fan of nut toppings, but feel free to sprinkle some on for crunch and to contrast with the cake’s soft texture.
Orange Kiss-Me Cake
1 medium orange
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup walnuts
2 cups all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1/3 cup (fresh) orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Cut orange in half and remove all seeds. In a food processor, whizz orange (with the peel and everything), walnuts and raisins. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk and the rest of the flour. Stir in the orange/walnut/raisin mixture and pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top springs back.
While the cake is baking, whisk together all the topping ingredients (walnuts are optional) in a small bowl. When cake comes out of the oven, pour topping over hot cake and let it sit while the cake cools.
Cool completely before serving.