Loaf Cake Lessons

I discovered this loaf cake in a very old recipe collection assembled by my mother's Sunday school class years ago. Laden with raisins, pecans and grated orange peel, the cake is baked and then doused with fresh orange juice. Incredibly moist, it keeps well for four to five days and would be delicious also offered as a breakfast bread, or with coffee or tea as a late-afternoon treat.

MRS. HASTINGS' ORANGE-PECAN LOAF CAKE

Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup raisins, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 cup fresh orange juice

Spray 8x4-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and flour well, tapping out excess.

Sift together 2 cups flour and baking soda and set aside.

Place butter in bowl of electric mixer and beat on medium speed, gradually adding 1 cup sugar in thin stream. When all sugar has been added, beat in eggs 1 at time. Beat in vanilla.

Lower speed and add raisins, orange zest and pecans. Then, alternately, beat in 1 cup flour mixture, then 1/2 cup buttermilk. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk. Turn off mixer and scrape down sides of bowl, if necessary, during mixing process.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth with spatula. Bake on center oven shelf at 350 degrees until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Check after first 45 minutes and continue to check at 10-minute intervals until cake is done. Remove cake from oven. Unmold onto wire rack set in shallow pan.

Whisk together orange juice and 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Pour over hot cake. Ladle orange juice mixture in pan over cake several more times. Serve cake warm or at room temperature. Loaf will keep well 4 to 5 days, if covered tightly and stored at cool room temperature. Makes 12 servings.

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