Tasting the Past : Orange-Nut Cake


The small wooden box is very much a vault filled with recipes that require copious amounts of butter and sugar. This latest instalment makes no exception.

This Orange-Nut Cake recipe is from a certain Mrs. D.A. Wilmott from New Haven, Connecticut. The recipe was visibly printed in a newspaper. It was cut and glued to both sides of a recipe card. On one side, all the ingredients and the method were listed. On the other, a black and white photo of the cake cut into 16 pieces.

Web searches unfortunately did not turn out much information on this Mrs. D.A. Wilmott. When goolging specifically “D.A. Wilmott”, only medical articles surfaced… The mystery about the person who submitted the recipe is complete.

I must say that even without answers about who was behind the recipe, I truly enjoyed this coffee cake. It wasn’t overly sweet, but was able to fully taste the orange, nuts and raisins. I used the rind and juice of a Cara cara orange, which left a lovely aroma. When baking it again, I would perhaps add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to the batter.

I would also pay a little more attention to the presentation. This go round, I simply sprinkled the orange zest, raisin and nut mixed with the icing sugar on top of the cake. Instead, I’d opt try to prepare real icing by perhaps mixing a little orange juice or a splash of Grand Marinier to the icing sugar.

The finished product

The finished product


  • ½ cup of butter
  • 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1 tsp. of baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. of salt
  • Rind of one orange
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • ½ chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup of orange juice
  • Powdered sugar icing
Orange zest, raisins and chopped toasted walnuts are added to the batter.

Orange zest, raisins and chopped toasted walnuts are added to the batter.


  • Preheat oven at 350°F
  • Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and buttermilk.
  • Add sifted flour, soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Finely grind orange rind, raisins, and nuts. Beat half o this mixture into batter.
  • Pour into greased 9 – inch pan. Bake in oven at 350°F for 40 minutes.
  • Remove from pan and pour orange juice over hot cake. Add remaining ground mixture to powdered sugar icing and spread over cake.

5 thoughts on “Tasting the Past : Orange-Nut Cake

  1. This cake sounds lovely and Spring like. It must smell wonderful while baking! I love your idea of an icing sugar and Grand Marinier glaze. I am going to try it with the glaze and without the nuts (allergy). A slice of your cake and a cup of coffee sounds perfect right now! 🙂

  2. You have no idea how interesting this ‘Tasting the Past’ recipe series is… I’m fascinated, both by the wooden box and by your thorough commentary on the ‘recipe tests’, writers and ingredient histories. I think you’re quite brave to attempt some of the fragmented recipes… I had a read of your rye bread recipe test and it seems remarkable that you ended up with an edible loaf after all that guesswork!! Well done you! P.S your partner buys awesome presents. Love the ‘tarnished spoon’ also… I don’t suppose he can drop my husband some tips? 😉

    • Thank you so much! It’ honestly quite fun to read through the recipe cards while trying to discover the life and times of the box’s owner.

      Thanks for following this culinary adventure!

      As for your husband, my advice, introduce him to the joys of Etsy! 🙂

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