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The Queen of Cakes

Sweet glasses!
The Queen of Cakes

If you drive southbound on El Dorado Street towards downtown Stockton, California, you may notice a pink house with white trim.  The porch features a swinging wooden bench where my great-grandfather would be found enjoying the fresh air, counting passing cars with any one of his great-granchildren.

Inside, my great-grandmother would be knitting or crocheting in her rocking recliner or shuffling around her crowded kitchen, whipping up something rich and delicious.  Holidays meant one dessert in particular: Orange Delight Cake.

I don't believe I ever watched her make the actual cake.  I just remember eating it...lots of it.  Ditto for the rest of my family.  I do recall a dense chocolate behemoth, slightly fruity and studded with Muscat raisins that were specially ordered directly from Sun Maid each year just for this cake.  As a young girl, I knew there was something special about this dessert; I just didn't know how special.

When my great-aunt shared the recipe with me a few years ago, I paid certain attention to a note at the top of the page: the cake was my great-grandmother's own creation, and it won 1st place in a contest in Houston, Texas in the late 1930s.  Perhaps that accomplishment is what made it so special.  Or, maybe it's the copious amount of sugar and cocoa.  Nevertheless, this cake is both delicious and a piece of my heritage.  Give it a try should you happen upon a surplus of Muscat raisins.

Orange Delight Cake

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 grated orange peel (save the orange for icing)
1 cup Muscat raisins
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Cream together the shortening and sugar.  Add the slightly beaten eggs and orange peel.  In a cup, mix buttermilk and baking soda. Add to shortening mixture.

Coat raisins with 1 tablespoon of the flour in a small bowl and set aside.

Sift together remaining flour, cocoa and salt.  Add half of the dry mixture to the batter and combine.  Fold in the raisins.  Add the remaining flour mixture, then pour into a well-greased 10" round pan.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Make the icing: Squeeze the juice of two oranges and add enough granulated sugar to make it syrupy.  Spoon over the hot cake, which usually cracks, allowing it to absorb more icing.

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