Munchie Monday: Orange Cake

In George Macculloch’s (1775-1858) garden journal he first references growing oranges in Morristown in 1830. On the top of the page of his 19th century garden journal the phrase “oranges housed” can be seen each year corresponding to the first frost in the fall.  In 1832 George Macculloch writes, “oranges housed Oct 14, ice same day” and in the following year he writes “1833 oranges housed 15 Oct, ice 18 Oct, garden taken up 18 Nov, ground closed”.

The information recorded in the 19th century Macculloch garden journal complements the recipes and ingredients listed in the family’s handwritten cookbook. By reading George Macculloch’s garden journal we know the source of the oranges needed for the family’s orange cake and icing recipes. Try the delicious Macculloch-Miller recipe for Orange Cake which is also delightfully dairy free.

Orange Cake–Original Recipe

2 cups of flour

2 cups of sugar

½ cup of cold water


Yolks of 5 eggs

Whites of 4 eggs, well beaten

1 teaspoonful of cream of tartar

½ teaspoonful of soda

Grated rind of 1 orange

Bake in jelly cake pans.

Beat the white of 1 egg to a froth. Add powdered sugar till almost thick. Then add the juice and grated rind of an orange, and spread the mixture between the cake.


Orange Cake—Adapted Recipe

For Cake:

2 cups of flour

2 cups of sugar

½ cup of cold water

1/8 teaspoon of salt

Yolks of 4 eggs

Whites of 4 eggs, well beaten

1 tsp. of cream of tartar

½ tsp. of baking soda

1 tablespoon of orange rind (1 large or 2 small oranges)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Sift flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda in bowl. In a stand mixer or with hand mixer, mix egg yolks, water, and sugar. Slowly add dry ingredients and orange rind and mix until combined. In separate bowl beat egg whites until they form peaks.  Gently add egg whites to cake batter, combine but do not overmix. Pour equal amounts of batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes on baking racks then remove from pans. Use icing between the two layers of orange cake and to icing the top of the cake.


For icing:

Combine 1 ¾ cup of powdered sugar, ¾ tsp. of orange rind, and 2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice. Add more powdered sugar for desired thickness. *Does not include the egg white from the original recipe. Meringue powder can be used in place of the egg white, if available.

A slice of orange cake topped with icing sits on a plate next to two orange slices.

Topic: Munchie Monday
Age / Level: High School, College, Life Long Learner