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Orange Kiss-Me Cake

Orange Kiss Me Cake

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.

Serves 16.

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  • RecipeGirl
    April 9, 2008

    Don’t you love to make the prize-winning recipes? It’s fun to see if they’re worthy 🙂

  • Katie
    April 9, 2008

    That cake looks wondeful, and as you say very moist.

  • lolo
    April 10, 2008

    Thank you!!! I was thinking of that recipe a few days ago and wondered if I still had it somewhere! I had gotten the recipe when I worked at an inn on Cape Cod in the summer of 1969. Love your website – Thanks

  • Patricia Scarpin
    April 10, 2008

    It certainly looks very moist, Nic. And delicious!
    I’m not a huge fan of raisins, but the walnuts and oranges won me over.

  • Amanda
    April 10, 2008

    I agree with everyone, the cake is moist and looks like you could just sink your teeth into it. I’m intrigued about the blending of the ingredients. It’s really a unique way of adding in walnuts, oranges, and raisins. This is going in my arsenal 🙂

  • lyra
    April 10, 2008

    This looks delicious. I think I am going to make it to take to work. I was thinking that you could reduce the sugar and make this with dates as well-that would certainly be very california!

  • Lindsay
    April 14, 2008

    Mmm, this looks good, but I don’t have a food processor! Could I make it any other way?

  • Melissa
    April 14, 2008

    yum. 🙂 thank you for sharing the recipe, we enjoyed it quite a lot.

  • Judy
    April 16, 2008

    I made this last night and served it tonight to friends for dessert. I really liked this cake a lot! It was very moist, not overly sweet, with a good orange flavor that was not overwhelming. No one guessed that there were raisins in it. I think they just add moistness and soom depth to the flavor. This was super easy to make and will keep really well, so it is a handy recipe to keep on hand. Thanks for posting it!

  • kimberleyblue
    April 19, 2008

    I also made these a few days ago – very dense, very moist, and chewy – I was expecting a bit more of a cake texture. I loved the glaze (the cinnamon is awesome!), but the texture just didn’t do it for me.

    Thanks for posting the recipe – I was really excited to try it out!

  • Nicole
    April 19, 2008

    Kimberley Blue – Interesting! My cake was not in the least bit dense or chewy. I wonder if your baking soda was somehow less reactive than it should have been. The cake really should come out light and tender….

  • Nicole
    April 19, 2008

    Lindsay – You would have to have a very sharp knife and chop everything *very* finely if you do not have a food processor. Or, you could experiment with using a blender, instead.

  • Mariah
    April 22, 2008

    Apparently I dont know how to pick out oranges. I can tell that this would be great with good oranges, however my cake had a very pithy taste to it, and not so much sweet orange taste.

    I think I’ll wait for my neighbor to bring me fresh off the tree oranges later in the year and try again.

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  • Sim
    May 12, 2008

    I saved this recipe for later and tried it this weekend. The cake was so good! And the way of making it was very interesting too.
    Thanks for the recipe.
    I like your website very much, you’re doing a great job!

  • Mansi
    May 16, 2008

    That looks great! I’m thinking of using mango along the same lines:) will see how it turns out this weekend:)

  • Linda
    June 3, 2008

    I made this cake for Mother’s Day and shipped it across the country. Everyone in my family loved the cake but thought it was pumpkin, not orange. I’m not sure if it was the cinnamon that fooled them or the richness of the raisins giving it depth of flavor but my sister requested the recipe. She said it was rich but not heavy and fresh tasting. I used a blood orange and that gave it a deeper hue so that might have confused the pumpkin image too. I’ll have to try it for work one of these days to see if they enjoy it as much. Thanks for making my mom’s Mother’s Day a special one!

  • Ben-David
    June 16, 2008

    This recipe sounds similar to a traditional Sephardic Passover cake, which combines the flavors of ground nuts, citrus, and sweet wine. In your version, the raisins provide the “sticky sweetness” that is supplied by the wine in the traditional recipe.

    Great site – I came here looking for cookie recipes, and found some gems!

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