Passing through Brookville, PA, I always stop in at a little antique shop owned by William Cashdollar called Cash’s Collectibles. It’s the sort of place I love: Always in a bit of a jumble, and never crowded, so you really can find hidden treasures. This last trip, I came across a 1950 cookbook that I bought on sight for the cover alone: Garish orange plaid with pink-iced cakes in the margin and a lace-doilied red center medallion, the cover copy promised “Meals from the Manse: Favorite Recipes from the Wives of Great Preachers with Devotional Gems for Homemakers.” As a pastor’s kid, this promised plenty of entertaining reading.
What I didn’t expect? Lots of really nice recipes, including six, very-similar orange cakes, which called for grinding orange rind with raisins and then coating the top of the cake with sugared fresh orange juice. Yum, right? Of these, this one won out. I love it for its orange flavor and tender crumb (sticky-topped with the sugared OJ) and for the lovely little story that came with it (instead of a devotional gem.) Mrs. Andrew W. Blackwood of Princeton, NJ, wrote: “It happens that we are neighbors of the Einsteins. I made some of these cakes and took them to the family one day. Dr. Einstein declared them to be the best cakes he had ever tasted. I have since called the cakes, “Einsteins Favorite.”
So now when I bake these, I can’t help wondering what equations Einstein mused upon while snacking on these cakes…and did he get crumbs in his mustache?
Makes 14 muffins
Sticky Orange Cakes Ingredients
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
- 1 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar (divided)
- 1 cup raisins
- Peel from one orange
- juice from one orange
- 1 cup sour milk (NOTE: add 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice to 1 cup whole milk to sour)
- 1 rounded teaspoon soda
- 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg, well-beaten
- 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed, whip butter with sugar until fluffy.
- While whipping butter, in a food processor with metal blade, grind raisins and orange peel until cut fine.
- Add orange-rind/raisin mixture to whipped butter/sugar.
- Combine orange juice with 1/2 cup sugar and place in a warm place.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Add 1 cup sour milk to the mixer bowl. Add soda and baking powder.
- Add vanilla and egg.
- Add flour and mix until incorporated.
- Grease a 12-muffin muffin tin, plus two ramekins for the extra batter. Bake in center of oven at 375 for 15 to 17 minutes until tops spring back with touched.
- Drizzle orange juice sugar mixture over tops of baked muffins while still warm.