Orange-Date Cake

August 11, 2007

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Icing is great, but when you want a really moist cake, you can’t beat glazing. This rich, citrusy beauty has everything going for it: dates, nuts, buttermilk, tangy orange, and brandy. It should make 16 servings—but I wouldn’t count on it! SAM

3 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 (12-ounce) package pitted chopped dates
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Orange Glaze

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch stem pan and set aside. Combine 3 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. Toss the pecans and dates with 1/2 cup flour and set aside. With an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the shortening and sugar on medium speed. Add the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in the pecan mixture by hand. In a clean, dry mixer bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed with the whisk attachment until stiff. Gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Turn into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the top comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, loosen, and remove from the pan onto a cake plate. Prick holes all over the cake with a skewer or wooden pick and brush with Orange Glaze (recipe follows). Cool and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours before serving.
Makes 16 servings.

Orange Glaze
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon brandy

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and brandy and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Brush over the warm cake.
Makes 1 3/4 cups or enough for 1 tube cake.


Zucchini Cake

July 28, 2007

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With zucchini, it’s all or nothing. One day you’re waiting impatiently for one to come in—the next day you have bushels. What to do with all those squash? It’s kind of like finding homes for kittens. When the neighbors start ducking behind shrubs when they see you coming with your garden basket, that’s a sign it’s time to bake Zucchini Cake! SAM

1/3 cup boiling water
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 medium)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup salad oil
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese-Pecan Icing

In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the zucchini and set aside to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the zucchini, flour, sugar, oil, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla extract, and eggs. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, scraping the bowl constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the bowl occasionally. Stir in the pecans by hand and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and ice with Cream Cheese-Pecan Icing.
Makes 15 servings.