Visiting with old friends is always special. For the last 15 or 20 years, my husband and I get together a couple times a year with my daughter’s former girl scout leader and her husband to play pinochle. There are shared memories, family updates, and just plain good times.
It recently was my turn to host the gathering, and I wanted to make a special dessert – but something not too heavy. And, of course, my other criteria was that it had to be made using a hundred-year-old recipe. When browsing through an old cookbook, I came across a recipe for a citrus sponge cake called Sunshine Cake that peaked my interest, so I decided to give it a try.
The cake turned out wonderfully and did not disappoint. It was light, tender, and tasted divine. The recipe calls for both orange juice and lemon juice so it has a nicely balanced citrus flavor. The cake requires beating egg whites until stiff peaks form but it is worth the effort.
The trick to getting a really light cake is to cool it upside down. The cake can be inverted on a cooling rack when it is removed from the oven. In the old days, cakes often were inverted on an empty glass 1-quart soda-pop bottle to cool.
Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Sunshine Cake with Orange Frosting
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; then add the cream of tartar and salt while continuing to beat until there are stiff peaks.
In a separate bowl combine the sugar, flour, egg yolks, orange juice, and lemon juice. Beat until combined, then gently fold the whipped egg whites into the mixture.
Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched.
Invert pan until cool (at least 1 hour). Remove cake from pan and place on serving plate, then drizzle with a thin orange frosting (glaze).
Orange Frosting (Glaze)
2 cups powdered sugar
approximately 2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
Combine powdered sugar and orange juice in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. If the mixture to too thick add additional orange juice; then stir in the grated orange rind.
Note: The frosting should be quite thin (and more of a glaze) when used on this cake. A thicker version of it would be lovely on heavier cakes.
Here are the original recipes: