The following is a piece of fiction I wrote for Valentine's Day:) ~Brenda
Dotty and the Orange Kiss Me Cake
I've been cooking for the cafe since I was 15 years old, and helping my daddy out in the kitchen. I learned the basics from him: fried chicken, meatloaf, roast beef and all the diner food folks came to expect from our cafe. I was always trying to convince him to let me try new dishes, but he'd say "Dotty, our customers don't need any new fangled food. They like our menu just the way it is. They count on it." Daddy was nothing if not steadfast and reliable.
One year I talked him into letting me make a special dessert for Valentine's Day. I was 16, and it was called "Orange Kiss Me Cake". I made up a sign for the window, and had baked it at home several times earlier in the month, which is how I had convinced Daddy to let me make it for the cafe. I remember that day clearly for so many reasons. The lunch crowd had bought out the first cake, and I had just put out the second cake. I looked up and saw a young man walk in the cafe. He was six foot tall with sandy brown hair, and looked like a young Steve McQueen. He sat down at a table near the door just as I headed his way. I asked what I could get him, and he said in a slow Southern drawl:
"Darlin', I have to try a piece of the Orange Kiss Me Cake."
He hit me with a smile that made my knees buckle. Turns out his name was Ben, and he'd just moved to New Harvest from Alabama. I've made him the Orange Kiss Me Cake for 49 years now, and every time he gives me that smile it still weakens my knees. He waited two years to propose to me, sitting at the same table he sat at that first day. Turns out my daddy had threatened to ruin his pretty smile if he didn't wait to ask me until I was 18. It's okay, he was worth the wait.
I thought you all might like to bake the Orange Kiss Me Cake for someone you love. I remember cutting the recipe out of a newspaper all those years ago, but it's not exact. I changed it slightly and frost it with whatever frosting or glaze catches my fancy each year.
Orange Kiss Me Cake
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large orange
1 cup milk
Using a grater, carefully zest the orange all around. Set aside. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Cream the shortening and sugar. Blend in the eggs one at a time. Add the orange zest. Add the milk, alternating with the dry ingredients, using an electric mixer. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool.
This cake can be frosted with a cream cheese or buttercream frosting.
May your Valentine's Day be full of love and laughter.