When it comes to my love of baking, my mother has always been my biggest influencer. She has been icing rolled sugar cookies long before it was the cool thing to do; I can actually still taste the strawberry ice cream cone cookies that she made for my elementary school birthday celebrations. Her advanced candy making skills are also impressive and evident in her dark chocolate almond caramels, a treat she hesitates to make due to all of the cutting and wrapping of each individual piece. Although as her one and only, it doesn't take too much convincing to get at batch out of her around the holidays.
My favorite thing about her her years of culinary wisdom are the emails that we shoot back and forth to bounce recipe ideas off of each other. She always knows exactly what to make for each occasion and hopefully, myself for her. This Picnic Cake resulted from a string of emails that started in attempt to find the perfect item for a brunch-time bake sale for a local hospital. Mom recalled picking up pieces from Austin's own Texas French Bread many years back and said that it was always a favorite of hers.
Although no longer on the Texas French Bread menu, this cake was so easy to bake at home that there's no reason not to give it a try. Its bold flavors hold up nicely with a cup of coffee for breakfast or brunch, but is light enough to be a lovely pairing with afternoon tea. I could see this being a huge hit to accompany early morning meetings at the office as well.
makes approximately 16 servings
Cake Ingredients:2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
3 large eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 teaspoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
additional chopped walnuts for decoration
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 12-Cup Bundt Pan with butter and a light coating of flour. Tap out excess flour and set aside.
- Mix all cake ingredients except walnuts in stand mixer on medium speed until smooth. Fold in walnuts and transfer batter to prepared bundt pan.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, combine brown sugar, milk and butter in a small saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until sugar has just dissolved. Add powdered sugar and stir until smooth.
- Remove from heat and spoon over cooled cake. Top with additional walnuts if desired.
As I reflect on the success of this recipe, I want to thank my mother for all of her years of kitchen wisdom, love and encouragement. Happy birthday to my greatest inspiration and best friend.