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This 74-Year-Old Pillsbury Bake-Off -Winning Cake Is Simple & Citrusy

Winter has always been the very best time for peak citrus, and my love for cake will never go out of style. So imagine my delight when I saw that this Orange Kiss Me Cake—the winner of the 1950 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest—has been making the rounds online.

Why is it called Kiss Me Cake, you may ask? From my research, I found out that it was named after the Broadway musical "Kiss Me Kate" which opened in 1948. Avid bakers online say they swear by this cake and have been making it for decades.

“My mother cut this recipe out of the newspaper back in 1950 when it was originally published as a bake-off winner. It has remained a family favorite for the past three generations!” says one commenter. "My grandmother used to make a similar cake with whole chopped oranges. It was very orange-y, moist, and fabulous" says another.

Hungry for a much-needed pep in my step on a dreary snowy January day, I gathered my ingredients and tried this bright bake.

Get the recipe: Orange Kiss Me Cake Recipe

Ingredients for Orange Kiss Me Cake

To make this cake, you'll need flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, salt, baking soda, an orange, orange juice, cinnamon, walnuts and raisins.

Ingredients for Orange Kiss Me Cake<p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>
Ingredients for Orange Kiss Me Cake

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

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Grease and flour a 13x9-inch pan. Squeeze the orange, remove the seeds, and set aside about 1/3 cup of juice for topping the cake later on. In a blender or food processor, grind the orange peel and pulp (yep, all of it), raisins and 1/3 cup walnuts. Set aside.

Add the flour to a large bowl, then add the remaining cake ingredients. Mix at low speed until moistened, then beat for 3 minutes. Stir in the orange-raisin-walnut mixture. Pour the cake batter into your prepared pan and bake at 350° for 35 to 45 minutes.

Once out of the oven, drizzle the warm cake with the remaining orange juice. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon, stir in the remaining 1/4 cup walnuts and sprinkle the mixture over the cake. Let the cake completely cool before serving.

Related: 15 Easy, From-Scratch Dessert Recipes for Cakes, Breads, Cookies, Bars and More 

What I Thought of Orange Kiss Me Cake

I really loved this Orange Kiss Me Cake. And I'm not just saying that because the 1950 Pillsbury Bake-Off Winner for this recipe has an eerily similar last name to mine (Lily Wuebel from Redwood City, California, FYI).

The recipe had the perfect balance of zing and sweetness, and it was light enough to have as an afternoon snack or an evening dessert. And because the cake is made in a 9x13-inch pan and doesn't require frosting, it's really no fuss. The walnuts added a tasty crunch and the raisins gave the cake a carrot cake vibe. I may have topped a fresh-hot slice of cake with a bit of whipped cream cheese as my breakfast treat and it may have been the most delectable thing I ate all week!

Now feels like a good time for me to tell you that I bought blood oranges by mistake. But in the end, this was a happy accident. Not only did the blood orange turn my cake a very pleasing shade of peach, but it reminded me of my favorite Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake from Melissa Clark, which is a staple recipe in my household.

Related: 30 Best Pillsbury Crescent Roll Recipes

Finished Orange Kiss Me Cake<p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>
Finished Orange Kiss Me Cake

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

Tips for Making Orange Kiss Me Cake

  1. Buy organic oranges. Since the recipe calls for using the whole fruit, peel and all, you'll want to pick up the best quality fruit.

  2. Toast the nuts. Almost anytime nuts are used in baking, it would behoove you to go ahead and toast them. Toasting nuts makes them taste even nuttier, which is always a good thing.

  3. Experiment with your raisins. Don't have regular raisins on hand? No problem. Try this one with golden raisins or another dried fruit. Dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots or dates would be tasty too.

  4. Adjust the orange, if you'd like. Because the whole orange is used, some people can seriously taste the pithy flavor, which some reviewers found imparted a bitter flavor to the cake. Instead of using the entire fruit, pith and all, reviewers say you can use a couple of teaspoons of orange zest mixed with about a 1/4 cup of orange juice instead.

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