Holiday Dips

cottage cheese/apricot/green onion dip

Let healthy, creative dips enhance your holiday entertaining; two of my favorites are made in just minutes, using protein-rich cottage cheese for a base.  One, which only adds salsa, dates back to my profound, childhood experience at a restaurant in Tucson, Arizona (see “About”).  The other was inspired by my recent need for additional potassium in my diet; thus, dried apricots, rich in this element, and green onions make another pleasing combination for this dairy product.

When I lived in Switzerland briefly in the 1970’s, I was captivated by their cottage cheese, which to my amazement was without the coagulated lumps that we are used to in the U.S.  Their smooth, thick, creamy substance was more like our cream cheese, though not as stiff.  These soft, uniform curds were excellent with muesli, fruits, raw vegetables, crackers, breads, and more.  (Some European cottage cheese is dry and salty, not so with my rhapsodic Swiss cottage cheese.)

In trying to learn more about this blessing from Europe, I discovered a good source for making one’s own; this site provides a recipe that produces either the creamy smooth or dry salty versions, simply by adjusting the heating time.  Access this incredible treat, which can’t be found in any U.S. grocery store, at: https://cheese.wonderhowto.com/how-to/make-your-own-cottage-cheese-european-way-352742/

Different textured and flavored cheeses are produced by: variations in the temperature the milk is heated to, the diverse procedures of draining and pressing the resultant curds, and aging.  For instance, soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, and hard cheeses are often categorized according to their moisture content, which is determined by whether they are pressed or not, and if so, the pressure with which the cheese is packed in molds, as well as upon aging.

“Fresh cheeses” are the most simple of all, in which milk is curdled and drained, with little other processing.  Among these “acid-set cheeses”, cottage cheese, cream cheese, fromage blanc, and curd cheese (also known as quark) are not pressed; when fresh cheese is pressed, it becomes the malleable, solid pot cheese; even further pressing makes a drier, more crumbly farmer’s cheese, paneer, and goat’s milk chevre, for instance.  All are easy to spread, velvety, and mild-flavored.

The unpressed quark/curd cheese is common in the German-speaking countries and those of northern Europe, the Netherlands, Hungary, Belgium, Albania, Israel, Romania, as well as with the Slavic peoples.  It is also found in some parts of the United States and Canada.

Quark is usually synonymous with cottage cheese in Eastern Europe, though in America-and Germany, as best I know-these differ; generally curd cheese or quark is similar to French fromage blanc, Indian paneer, Spanish queso blanco, as well as the yogurt cheeses of south and central Asia and parts of the Arab world.

These (fresh) acid-set cheeses are coagulated milk, which has been soured naturally, or by the addition of lactic acid bacteria; this in turn is heated to a 20-27 degrees C, or until the desired curdling is met; then, the curds are drained, but not pressed, such as in the link above.

In America quark, which is always smooth, differs from our cottage cheese, which has curdled chunks in it; these lumps are large in the low-acid variant, which uses rennet in coagulating the milk, or small in the high-acid form, without any rennet. In Germany, Sauermilchkase (sour milk cheese) applies to ripened (aged) acid-set cheeses only, not to fresh ones.

The world of cheese is a complex one.  My vivid memories of this smooth European cottage cheese, in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, have left me with a love for this dairy product-to this day I frequently employ the American version in my diet.  Enjoy these quick dips!

References:

https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-pot-cheese-591193

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark_(dairy_product)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottage_cheese

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sour_milk_cheese

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_cheese#Fresh.2C_whey.2C_and_stretched_curd_cheeses

https://cheese.wonderhowto.com/how-to/make-your-own-cottage-cheese-european-way-352742/

Salsa and Cottage Cheese Dip  Yields: about 1 1/2 pint.  Total prep time: 5 min.

1 pint cottage cheese  (Whole milk is best for your health; Trader Joe’s brand is hormone and additive free.)

1/2 c salsa  (Trader’s Pineapple Salsa is superb here.)

Tortilla chips  (Que Pasa makes an organic red chip, colored with beet dye, available in nutrition center at our local Fred Meyer-Kroger-

ingredients for salsa dip

stores.)

  1. Mix cottage cheese and salsa in a bowl.
  2. Serve with chips.  (Keeps well in refrigerator.)

ingredients for apricot dip

Cottage Cheese, Apricots, and Green Onion Dip  Yields: about 1 3/4 pints.  Total prep time: 15 min.  Note: may choose to refrigerate for at least 8 hr for ideal flavor and texture.

1 pint cottage cheese

1/2 c dried apricots, minced

1 c green onion, including green part, chopped

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt, pink salt, is important for optimum health; available in nutrition center at local supermarket.)

  1. Mix the above together in a bowl.
  2. Serve with a high quality cracker.  (May use immediately, but this is much better when refrigerated for at least 8 hours-the flavors not only meld, but the excess moisture in the cottage cheese is absorbed by the dried apricots, producing superb texture and taste!)

“Cuban” Holiday Rolls

holiday rolls

In the early 1980’s, when I first began catering historical foods (see Scottish Oat Scones, 2016/06/20), I was inspired by the enduring works of such renown writer/chefs as Julia Child, James Beard, Jacques Pepin, and Graham Kerr, to mention a few.  It was actually their written works, rather than those of food TV that influenced me so greatly.

My mother often sent clippings of their receipts, which were profuse in the media; this is how I got this bread recipe, which I started using, even before my own work began in 1982.

A number of these food authorities gave slightly varying directions for making Cuban bread; I don’t recall in these various versions the crucial lard or the palmetto leave, used to form the seam down the center of every authentic loaf; rather, that which I took from them is a simple bread recipe, using only 2 teaspoons each of salt and sugar plus flour, yeast, and water.

I wondered why so many of these chefs were publishing this same recipe, each utilizing specific alterations; I queried: which recipe is actually accurate?  In that period, I didn’t have the glorious bounty of facts for discovering food history, which internet provides at our fingertips today.

One chef, I don’t’ recall which one, wrote that the baking of this loaf need start in a cold oven, which I erroneously attributed to the Cuban baking process; a number of them also covered the pan with corn meal, on which a free-formed loaf was placed; hence, I employed these directions and unknowingly professed them as being national, which today I know were not genuine.  Note: you may access the real deal for Cuban bread at https://icuban.com/food/pan_cubano2.html

I learned about the legality of copyrighting recipes, when embarking on my journey as a food historian, after graduating with my Masters Degree in 1991. (My degree is in Pacific Northwest history, in which I specialized in food history, for there were no schools offering a degree in this unique subject, when I began my studies.)

Graduate school taught me the highest respect for avoiding plagiarism; thus, I sought the expertise of the leading copyright lawyer in Portland, Oregon in the early 90’s.  Dressed to the nines on a hot summer day, I stepped into one of multiple air-conditioned elevators, which took me to this qualified man’s office, with its pent-house view.  There this skilled expert patiently listened to my heart, as I fervently expressed my need for safety, in the writing and performing of my treasured work; it became apparent to me that all its colorful detail was holding him spell-bound.  Much to my relief, his directives were: ingredients in recipes may always be the same, but to be legally protected, instructions must vary.

I was exuberant, for I, like my beloved famous chefs, could take any promising receipt and produce it as my own, simply by improving on its directions, with my own culinary wisdom and historical knowledge.

My joy over this freedom was immense; there is more, however, for with his heart seemingly expanding, as was mine, the following words came out of this great lawyer’s mouth: “My services this day are free!”  God’s favor perpetually blesses our gratitude.

I don’t profess this to be Cuban bread, but rather my simple recipe for delicious holiday rolls.  Enjoy!

finished product

Holiday Rolls  Yields: 14-16 rolls or 1 loaf.  Total prep time: 2 hr & 20 min/  active prep time: 20 min/  inactive prep time: 2 hours/  baking time: 20 min.  Note: this method utilizes a food processor, producing quick, mess-free bread, the greatest!

4 cups flour  (May blend 3 cups whole wheat flour with 1 cup unbleached white flour, or better yet, grind 2 2/3 cup organic hard red spring wheat berries, to make 4 cups of fresh-ground flour.)

1 1/2-1 3/4 cups tepid water  (110-115 degrees in temperature.)

3 tsp yeast, or 1 individual packet  (Red Star Active Dry Yeast comes inexpensively in a 2-pound package at Costco; this freezes well in a sealed container for long-term use.)

2 1/4 tsp sugar

2 tsp salt  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in nutrition section at local supermarket.)

Coconut spray oil  (Coconut is best for quality and flavor; Pam is available in most grocery stores; our local Winco brand, however, is much cheaper.)

  1. grinding flour with Kitchen Aid attachment

    If grinding your own flour, begin to do so now (see photo).

  2. Place 1/4 cup lukewarm water-110 to 115 degrees-in a small bowl; stir in yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar.  Let sit in a warm place, until nearly double in size, about 10 minutes.  Note: frozen yeast will take somewhat longer to proof.
  3. Place flour, 2 tsp sugar, and salt in processor; blend well, stopping machine and stirring once with hard plastic spatula.
  4. When yeast is proofed, add it and 1 1/2 cup tepid water to flour mixture (with fresh-ground flour, however, only 1 1/4 cups of water is needed, as the grind is coarser).  Turn machine on and knead for 35 seconds; turn off and let dough rest for 4 minutes (see photo below of dough, after this first kneading in machine, using fresh-ground flour).  This resting period cools dough, which is essential as processing increases heat, and too much heat will kill the yeast.
  5. After pausing for 4 minutes, turn on the processor; knead dough for 35 seconds; let rest for 4 minutes.
  6. Take out and knead by hand for 5-7 minutes, or until satiny smooth.  As wet dough readily sticks to hands, rinse them as needed to facilitate easy kneading (store-bought flour is finer; therefore, it absorbs the moisture more

    dough after initial kneading in processor, using fresh-ground flour

    readily); see photo below for dough before and after kneading by hand.  Ideally it should be soft and pliable when finished.  (Note: dough may be somewhat wet and sticky at first, but much moisture is absorbed with kneading by hand; this is especially true with fresh-ground flour.  These instructions should be foolproof, but IF needed, do the following: if dough remains quite wet and sticky, after kneading by hand for several minutes, slowly add more flour to your board as you knead; if it is too stiff to knead by hand easily, place back in processor; knead in an additional 1-2 tablespoons water-more is required with the finer grinds of white or fine whole wheat flours, which are available in bulk at our local New Seasons).  Be sure to rest dough, so as not to overheat; repeat step if needed,  until it is easy to knead by hand.)  See before and after photo.

  7. Place prepared dough in a well-oiled 13-gallon plastic bag; let rise in a warm place for 50-60 minutes, or until double; time varies depending on room temperature.  (To facilitate proofing in a cold kitchen, you may place it in a warm oven, which has been heated for 20-30 seconds only.  Be careful to only take edge off cold, as too much heat will kill the yeast.)
  8. dough before and after kneading by hand

    Spray a cookie sheet with oil.  Without punching down, form risen dough into 14-16 rolls or an oblong loaf; place on pan.  Loosely cover with a piece of plastic wrap, which has also been sprayed with oil-this keeps dough moist.

  9. Let rise until doubled, for about 50-60 minutes.  To insure oven is ready when it is time to bake, preheat it to 400 degrees, 30 minutes into rising process.  IMPORTANT NOTE: if proofing rolls in oven, be sure to remove them, before preheating.
  10. When doubled, bake rolls for 20 minutes-a loaf will take up to 30 minutes-or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom.  Enjoy this excellent staff of life!

Curried Chicken/Cheese Ball

curry/chicken/cheese ball

curried chicken/cheese ball

My mother’s best friend, in our small Rocky Mountain village, became my treasured ally. She and her husband moved to East Glacier Park, when he retired as a screenplay writer.  Talbot Jennings was so famous that a prominent New York City television station featured his movies, such as The King and I, for a whole week, before he died.

This illustrious couple traveled the world during the production of these films; thus, Betsy schooled me in her prodigious cosmopolitan ways.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting under her tutelage, as she prepared me for the lions at Trafalgar Square and exceeding more, prior to my moving to London.  I believe she was even more excited than I, about my valiant relocation to Tokyo half a decade later.

The voluminous New York Times brought the vast outside world to Betsy every weekend.  She was forever clipping articles to prepare me for my numerous sojourns.

With this same spirit, starting in 1982, she helped me to grow as a historical caterer.  My creative mentor was always sending me gifts, which she ordered from the New York Times.  Ingenious gadgets were among a wide array of superlative food items.  Many of these imaginative tools still grace my kitchen today.

While I was doing my early work in Billings, Montana, I journeyed to my hometown each year, where I catered multiple theme dinners per visit. The eight-hour drive across the wide expanse of the Big Sky Country thrilled my tender soul. How I delighted in approaching the backdrop of my beloved mountains, as I gazed across those colossal open prairies.

Once there, I spent many hours drinking in wisdom at Betsy’s feet.  During one of these relished trips, she offered this  delectable cheese ball to me.  I was enamored with it then and still am today.  Then it was a frequent hors d’oeuvre at my gala catered events;  today it is still my constant contribution to every holiday meal, at which I am a guest.

May you make this blessed appetizer a family tradition as well!

Curried Chicken/Cheese Ball  Yields: 2 ½ cups.  Total prep time: 1 hr/ active prep time: 30 minutes/ inactive prep time: 30 min.  Note: you may make this a day ahead.

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup raw whole almonds, chopped in a food processor  (May use slivered almonds and chop with a sharp knife.)

½ cup unsweetened coconut, finely grated  (Available in bulk, at Winco and other stores.)

2 tbsp mayonnaise  (Best Foods excels all other mayonnaise.)

2-3 tbsp Major Grey’s Mango Chutney  (Choose 3 tbsp if you want a full-bodied sweetness.)

1 tbsp curry powder, or to taste

½ tsp salt  (Real Salt is important; available in health section of local supermarket.)

1 chicken breast or 4 frozen tenderloins  (Natural chicken is best; Trader Joe’s works well for quality and cost.)

1-9 oz box Original Wheat Thins

  1. If you are using frozen tenderloins, thaw in cool water.  Cook chicken in salted boiling water. When center is just faintly pink, after inserting a knife, remove chicken from water and cool in refrigerator.
  2. Chop almonds in a food processor, by repeatedly pressing the pulse button. Pulse until nuts are in small chunks.  Some finely ground almond “dust” will be present; you will use this as well.  There will also be some big chunks; cut them, by hand, with a sharp knife.  Set aside.
  3. Mix all the above ingredients except the chicken.  Note: it works best to insert a regular teaspoon in the narrow jar of Major Grey’s Mango Chutney, when measuring it.  Be sure to use well-rounded teaspoons, as each approximates a tablespoon, for which the recipe calls.
  4. Leave this cream cheese mixture out at room temperature, while waiting for the chicken to cool.  When meat is cool, cut it into small pieces. Mix chicken into cream cheese gently, as not to shred it.
  5. Criss-cross two large pieces of plastic wrap.  Place chicken ball in the center of wrap.  Surround ball with this plastic covering.  Refrigerate on a small plate.
  6. Soften ball at room temperature for two hours before serving, to facilitate the spreading.
  7. Surround with crackers on a decorative serving plate.
  8. This is a winner!

1950’s Pear Pie

Fresh pear pie

Fresh pear pie

My mother gave her children the choice of birthday cakes.  I was hard put to choose between banana cake (recipe in 2016/08/08 post) and fresh pear pie.  My soul still thrills with the beautiful taste of baked pears, rich crumb topping, and the best of pie crusts.

I am so health conscious; thus I have experimented with using sugar alternatives here.  Coconut sugar or sucanat (evaporated cane juice) can not compete with cane sugar in this receipt. Only sugar insures the right texture and flavor in pear pie.

Sugar has been around for the longest time.  China grew cane sugar for many years prior to its first written reference in 325 B.C.; Alexander the Great’s admiral Nearchus wrote of reeds in India that produce “honey” without any bees.

The word sugar began to appear in Indian literature around 300 B.C.:  The Sanskrit word sarkara, meaning gravel or pebble, became the Arabic sukhar, which finally came to be sugar.

The use of Indian sugarcane spread.  It was planted at this time in the moist terrains of the Middle East.  The Arabs then introduced this food to Egypt in 710 A.D.;  Knights of the First Crusade next planted sugar in the Holy Land nearly four centuries later. Knights from the Second Crusade brought this unknown delectable back home to Europe in 1148 A.D., where it became prized over honey.  The use of sugar grew after this.  Thus it became a main stable throughout much of the world.

This popular provision indeed played an important part in the forming of our country.  The British Parliament enforced the Sugar Act of 1764, with the high tax on this sweet in all its colonies.  The New World produced a great amount of sugar; thus this law was a factor in the American Revolution, a little over a decade later.

I am indebted to James Trager  for this exciting history.  I derived it from his book The Food Chronology, 1995, Henry Holt Reference Books.

Wisdom and moderation are needed with this substance.  Today our nation consumes sugar in unhealthy amounts.  Personally I hold fast to the adage of Mary Poppin’s:  “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”  My standard is to substitute more beneficial sweeteners wherever possible.  However, there are times when only cane sugar will do.   My precious pear pie is one of them!

Enjoy this carefree, mess-free recipe.

Pear pie, whipped cream, and freshly ground nutmeg

Pear pie, whipped cream, and freshly ground nutmeg

Pear Pie with Hot Water Pastry Crust

1 ¼ cup unbleached white flour (Bob’s Red Mill is best)

1 1/3  cup whole wheat pastry flour (save 1/3 cup for crumb topping) May grind 2/3 cup soft, white, winter wheat berries for 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour.

1 teaspoon salt (Real Salt is best, available in health section of local supermarket)

2/3 cup oil (grapeseed oil is best, available inexpensively at Trader Joe’s)

1/3 cup boiling water.

1 cup sugar (I prefer organic cane sugar; available in 2 lb packages at Trader’s, but more economical  in 10 lb bags at Costco)

1/3 cup butter, softened

5 large Bartlett pears, ripened (may use Anjou pears as well; but Bartlett is best, must be ripened)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Freshly ground nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Blend unbleached white flour, 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Add oil and water. Mix lightly with a fork.
  4. Divide into two balls, one much larger than the other. (You will need to use 3/5’s of dough for this single crust for a 10 inch pie plate. May bake leftover 2/5’s of dough in strips with butter and cinnamon sugar.)  Cover balls with plastic wrap and place on hot stove to keep warm.
  5. Roll out the large ball of dough between two, 14-inch pieces of wax paper. Form a very large, “oblong” circle which reaches to the sides of the paper.
  6. Gently peel off the top piece of wax paper. Turn over, wax paper side up, and place rolled dough over a 10 inch pie plate. Very carefully peel off the second piece of wax paper.
  7. Patch any holes in crust by pressing dough together with fingers. Form rim of crust on edge of pie plate by pressing dough together gently.
  8. Mix remaining 1/3 cup of flour and sugar in same bowl in which you made the pie crust. Blend in butter with a fork, until mealy in texture.
  9. Sprinkle 1/3 of this mixture in bottom of unbaked pie shell.
  10. Fill crust with peeled pear halves. Fill in spaces with smaller pieces.
  11. Evenly spread remaining flour mixture on top of pears.
  12. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 more minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
  13. Cool. Serve with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg. Mouthwatering!

1950’s Sweet and Sour Meatloaf

My siblings and I chose our meals for holidays and birthdays when we were young.  We always picked sweet and sour meatloaf.  How we loved it!

There was never a Christmas Eve that our home didn’t boast of its tantalizing smells.  They arose from the roasting of beef with its contrast of vinegar and brown sugar, mustard and tomato sauce.  The aroma was remarkable.

My memory of festivities back then was that of heightened anxiety for my troubled soul.  Celebrations  made me deeply aware of the void in my being; I suffered greatly from lifelong mental illness.

But no more!  The powerful word of God completely healed me.  It removed all wreckage from my mind and body, just as it promised to do.

I asked Jesus into my life on December 16, 1994.  But my healing didn’t begin to materialize with clarity until Mother’s Day of 2013.  This marked the start of my attendance at Abundant Life Family Church, where the word is taught in pure simplicity.

Prior to this, I spoke out my revivification every possible chance; I did everything in my power to effect my healing.  This included suddenly taking myself off medication. That misguided effort was a disaster, as it landed me in the psyche ward.

Indeed our good Father honored my heart, which was bent on his truth that promises wholeness.  Surely my life improved by small degrees as I pressed in with my passionate perseverance.  In actuality the stage was set for his complete blessing to come.  My declarations of health and thanksgiving for all the small advancements brought this forth.

However this gift potently began when the Spirit of God led me to my present church at the end of May, 2013.  I became a barnacle to the clear, unshackling truth taught here.  This unswerving reality cut away all pain.

The payoff has astounded me and those watching.  Revolution happened in my being; peaceful, lasting order emerged in my mind at ALFC. What’s more, I learned to take authority when anything tries to disrupt this harmony. Disturbances are stopped in their tracks.

I am indeed set free!  Now I thoroughly enjoy gala affairs.  Moreover everyday is a glorious party.  Heaven is here on earth.

You may access these helpful teachings at alfc.net.

My family still holds fast to our traditional repast of sweet and sour meatloaf.  It is ever-present on holidays and blesses us on my trips home.  I envision this mouth-watering dish when I think of family and food.  It’s an inseparable part of our clan.

It is extremely easy to prepare.  I guarantee you will be wowed by it.

1950's sweet and sour meatloaf

1950’s sweet and sour meatloaf

Sweet and Sour Meatloaf Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 2 hr/ active prep time: 20 min/ cooking time: 1 hr & 50 min.  Note: You may double this for superb sandwiches from leftovers.)

4 medium russet (baker) potatoes, cleaned and wrapped in tin foil

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 1/3 cup tomato sauce

1 lb ground beef  (Must be 15%/85% beef fat; natural is best.)

3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper  (Real Salt is best; available in health section of local supermarket.)

2 tbsp brown sugar, packed down in spoon  (Organic is best, available at Trader Joe’s.)

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar  (Raw is best; most economical at Trader’s.)

2 tbsp yellow mustard  (Frenchies’ or any other yellow mustard is fine.)

1 cup water

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 2 hours before serving.
  2. Place potatoes in oven when hot.  Bake for nearly 2 hours.
  3. In a large bowl, mix egg, bread crumbs, onion, 1/3 cup tomato sauce, salt, and pepper.  Then thoroughly blend the hamburger into the sauce.  It works best to use your hand to do this.
  4. Form a loaf in a 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 3 inch Pyrex baking dish.  Use a 13 x 9 1/2 inch pan if doubling.  Make a deep indentation in the center of the loaf, so it looks like a boat.  This will hold the sauce in meatloaf, so basting isn’t necessary.
  5. Using the same bowl, mix the remaining tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, and water.
  6. Pour the sauce over the meat and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Serve with unwrapped, split baked potatoes, which have lots of sauce poured over them.  SO GOOD!

Williamsburg Orange Cake

Williamsburg Orange Cake

Williamsburg orange cake

The spring and summer of 1973 brimmed with vitality for me; I had taken the quarter off from college “to find myself.”  However, I forgot my mother’s birthday in the midst of my prosperity.  My heart broke when I soon realized my mistake.  To make amends I baked and delivered a glorious cake; I drove it 200 miles across Montana’s Big Sky country, from Missoula to East Glacier Park.  My benevolent mother graciously welcomed both me and the confection!

This beloved parent learned the powerful lesson of forgiveness in her youth; she is always eager and ready to forgive as a result of this.  Mom taught me precious wisdom, which exempts us from much disruption when mistakes are made: immediately we amend all with our Father in heaven; next, we seek compassion from those we have hurt in our wrongdoing; finally, we lavishly forgive others and ourselves. This spells freedom for our emotions and minds!

Me, my brother Paul, mother Pat, sister Maureen

me, my brother Paul, mother Pat, sister Maureen-June 2016

That was Mom’s 50th birthday and the first time I made this outstanding Williamsburg orange cake.  I went home to Montana to celebrate her 93rd birthday this past June. We had a repeat of this treasured sweet!

The recipe calls for zesting oranges.  I like to equip my sister’s kitchen with gadgets which I find helpful in cooking.  This year I blessed her with a GoodGrip zester and thus insured my ease in making this cake. GoodGrip is high quality and economical.  A large array of this brand’s useful gadgets is available at our local Winco.  This particular zester is most efficient; it makes a difficult job super easy.

My recipe appears lengthy.  It is actually very simple, for I have included many baker’s tips. Don’t be daunted by looks!

Williamsburg Orange Cake  Yields: 2-9 inch round layers, 3-8 inch rounds, or 2-9 x 5 inch loaves.  Total prep time: 3 hr/  inactive prep time-to freeze cakes for easy frosting: 1 hr/ active prep time: 1 1/2 hr/  baking time: 30 min.

2 1/2 cups flour  (Bob’s Red Mill  organic unbleached white flour is best; better yet grind 1 2/3 cup organic, soft white winter wheat berries to make 2 1/2 cups of flour.)

1 cup raisins, soaked in boiling water  (Organic raisins are available inexpensively at Trader Joe’s.)

1 1/2 cup milk or cream, soured with lemon juice from a squeeze ball

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt  (Real salt is best; available in health section at local supermarket.)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup Crisco  (Butter may be substituted, but this 1970’s cake calls for the then popular Crisco.)

1 1/2 cup sugar  (May use sucanat, which is evaporated cane juice; if using sugar, organic cane sugar is premium; best buy at Costco; also available at Trader Joe’s in a 2 pound bag.)

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3 oranges  (It is important to use organic, as the zest of regular oranges taste of pesticides.)

1 cup pecan pieces

Spray oil  (Pam coconut oil is best.)

Flour for dusting pans

Williamsburg Orange Frosting  (This is for 2-9 x 5 inch loaf pans or 2-9 inch round layers; 1 1/2 recipes will be needed if making 3-8 inch round layers.)

1/2 cup butter, softened

4 cups powdered sugar  (Organic is available at Trader Joe’s.)

1 1/2 tbsp orange zest

3/8 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

10 narrow slices of orange rind, cut lengthwise on surface of orange (see photo).

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. If using fresh ground flour, begin grinding now.
  3. Cover raisins with water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, remove from heat, set aside.
  4. Place milk or cream in a large bowl (cream needs to be shallow, as it sits in bowl, with a lot of surface exposed); sour with 8 large squirts of lemon juice from ball; let sit until curdled; measure 1 1/2 cups again before using.
  5. Stir together flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium/large bowl with a fork.
  6. In a large bowl, beat butter and Crisco until light and fluffy, add sugar, beating thoroughly.  Add 1 egg at a time, beating well with each addition.
  7. Mix in vanilla.
  8. Preferably with an electric mixer, add 1/2 the flour mixture to butter mixture, blending until all is incorporated; then, add 1/2 the soured milk, mixing well. Repeat these steps to use all the flour and milk, beat extra well.
  9. Wash and dry oranges.  Zest 2 oranges, set aside.  Save these oranges, two for juice for frosting, and the third unpeeled one for decorative strips.
  10. Drain the raisins, which have been become plump in the hot water. Blend the raisins, l tbsp of zest, and nuts into the cake batter.
  11. Spray pans with oil and dust with flour lightly. (Rinse nozzle on can with hot water, for easy spraying in future.)  Pour batter in the prepared cake pans.
  12. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cake should respond, bounce back, when pressed with your finger.  Do not over bake!
  13. Cool in pan for 5 minutes to facilitate removal; then, freeze cakes on separate paper plates for at least 1 hour; freezing prevents cake from crumbling while frosting.

Frosting  (Make 1 1/2 recipes for 3-8 inch round layers.)

  1. In a medium/large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, preferably with an electric mixer.
  2. If desired for decorating, cut 10 narrow slices of rind from third orange: use a sharp knife and cut just below rind from top to bottom of orange, gently peel stripes off orange, set aside (see photo for decorated cake).
  3. Squeeze oranges to extract 3/8 cup juice; use extra oranges for eating later.  Set aside.
  4. Beat butter until light and fluffy with an electric hand mixer.
  5. Mix in 2 cups of powdered sugar.
  6. Beat in 1/4 cup of orange juice, 1 1/2 tbsp zest, vanilla, and salt.  Add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, blending well; set aside.  (Save extra orange juice.)
  7. Frost frozen cake layers or loafs.  Only if frosting is too stiff to spread easily, add more orange juice, 1 tbsp at a time.  Optional: decorate with slices of orange rind while frosting is still wet, arranging narrow slices back-to-back on top of cake (see top photo).
  8. If making the loaf cakes, to keep in freezer for unexpected company, be sure to freeze the frosting on cake, before sealing in gallon-size freezer bags.  Keeps well.
  9. Enjoy this delightful cake!