Rue McClanahan’s Orange Poppy Seed Cake

I LOVE “The Golden Girls”! I have loved this classic show ever since I was a young boy. People always ask me what character I am and I always tell them I am 80% Blanche and 20% Sophia. Ha!

A friend of mine recently send me the following newspaper article –

In the article it says that Blanche (Rue McClanahan) made an orange poppy seed cake that was made from a yellow cake mix, instant vanilla pudding, orange juice, orange peel and poppy seeds. They also mentioned it was an old recipe that originated from Oklahoma.

After a LOT of research I finally found a recipe that sounded just exactly like what the article described. I was so excited! I made it – and guess what!?

Fabulous! Delicious!

I am so excited to share this recipe with everyone! The cake is moist, flavorful and so easy to make!

Highly recommending this one…

Rue McClanahan’s Orange Poppy Seed Cake

For the cake…
1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 small box Jello instant vanilla pudding mix
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Tropicana orange juice
1/2 cup canola oil

For the streusel…
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 heaping tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 heaping tablespoon poppy seeds

For the glaze…
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons Tropicana orange juice
2 tablespoons whole milk

Orange peel (orange zest) for garnish

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray a Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In large bowl whisk together the yellow cake mix, instant vanilla pudding mix, lightly beaten eggs, orange juice and canola oil. Whisk until smooth and creamy.

In a seperate bowl combine the white granulated sugar, ground cinnamon and poppy seeds with a fork.

Pour half the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading evenly. Next, sprinkle over half the streusel evenly on top. Top that with the remaining batter and then finally top that with the remaining streusel.

Take a sharp knife and run it through the batter a few times to combine the batter and streusel creating a marble effect in the finished cake.

Place in preheated oven for 60 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool for 20 minutes before flipping over onto a serving plate. Allow to cool before drizzling with glaze.

To make the glaze combine the confectioner’s sugar, orange juice and milk in a large bowl. Whisk together. You want this to be on the thick side.

Drizzle over cooled cake. Top with fresh orange peel (orange zest). Refrigerate until ready to serve.




Chew This! Fresh Orange Brownies 

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday – and Happy Easter! As many of you know, I write a food column for “The Courier-Times” on the first and third Sundays of each month called “Chew This!” I absolutely love it and love sharing my family recipes, stories and memories. If you are in the Henry County, Indiana area – pick up a copy of the newspaper today and let me know what you think! If you are not, but would still like to take a look, sign up for an online subscription at Need help with the online signing up!? Write to me and I will be happy to help!

I love brownies and I love anything citrus, so I figured, why not combine the best of both worlds? These have nothing artificial and are packed with real orange flavor. The secret is to use fresh orange juice and fresh orange zest. People go crazy for these!

Also in this column is my “Ask and Answer” feature in which I talk about my “Bake Sale” experience as well as some of my most popular “Bake Sale Tips”. I love sharing this with you!

Fresh Orange Brownies

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, April 16th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Fresh and Flavorful Orange Brownies
Blaise Doubman

I love citrus desserts almost as much as I love chocolate desserts! Key lime pie, lemon meringue pie, lemon bars, pineapple cake, orange scones, ricotta orange cheesecake, lemon cheesecake, lemon curd with berries and lemon-lime tart are some of my go-to desserts when the season is hot and the flavors are citrusy and bright. When I was developing recipes for my cookbook some of the first recipes I developed were those of citrus. Lemon curd muddy buddy mix, lightning fast lemon pie and pineapple icebox pie were some of my favorites that were developed along the way and still some of my most popular recipes. Venturing on to creating and testing more recipes I envisioned some type of citrus brownie. A brownie that was your typical texture, chewy and dense, but had fresh and bright colors and nothing artificial.

Browsing through some of my citrus cookbooks I noticed there really was not anything in the field of brownies and citrus. I did find a couple of recipes from a famous food personality for citrusy type brownies but her recipes called for artificial flavoring and I wanted mine to be fresh, bright and flavorful. I can taste when something is artificial and that is not what I was looking for. A friend sent me a recipe that she had used, and same thing – artificial. I set out with your typical blondie brownie recipe, cut out the brown sugar, added an extra egg for chewiness and cut out the vanilla extract. Instead I added freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly grated orange zest. I also created a glaze to pour over the warm brownies and guess what? The brownies were fabulous! Bright, flavorful, full of citrus and perfect!

Fresh Orange Brownies

It is important to remember to zest the oranges before cutting and squeezing them for their juice. The best way to get maximum juice from the oranges is to gently roll the oranges on your counter a few times before cutting and squeezing. Also remember that when you zest any citrus, only take off the thin layer of color on the fruit, being sure not to get any of the white skin that is underneath – that part is very bitter. Wash all citrus before using.

For the brownies…
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, soft
2 cups white granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour

For the glaze…
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl cream together the soft unsalted butter and white granulated sugar. The mixture should be light in color and fluffy in texture.

Next, add in the large eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beat in the freshly squeezed orange juice, freshly grated orange zest and salt.

Gently fold in the white all-purpose flour, until no white streaks remain in the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Smooth out the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the glaze.

To make the glaze simply whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly grated orange zest in a medium sized bowl. Whisk until smooth and pourable.

Pour the glaze over the warm brownies and spread evenly. Allow to cool at room temperature before cutting, serving and enjoying.

Ask and Answer: A couple of weekends ago I took part in a local bake sale and I received a few questions about some of the specifics and details. I thought I would answer some of those questions here. To start with it is important when baking for a bake sale to remember people who may have a peanut, gluten, wheat, etc. allergy. If something contains peanuts I always label it as such. Meet with your bake sale coordinator to see what other special instructions may need to be followed. I also make sure to take everything in foil disposable containers. That way the person can throw away once finished and not feel like they need to return any nice containers, etc. Plastic wrap is your friend when covering baked goods. Aluminum foil hides what is underneath and does not make for a good presentation. Wrap your baked goods loosely with no air pockets around the edges. Also remember to bake things that can be made in advance without the possibility of anything turning stale or spoiling.


Simple Strawberry Jam

It is strawberry season in Indiana and you know what that means!? All of my strawberry jam, strawberry pizza and strawberry shortcake recipes get pushed right to the top of my “to try” list! So far, I have had pretty good luck with all of my strawberry “recipe testing” experiments. Matter of fact, right now (in the refrigerator) I have a new recipe I’m trying for “No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Cups”! They look incredible and I can not wait to test them! (Which IS after all, the best part of “recipe testing”!)

Many of you requested the recipe for the jam I made a few days ago, but I was still “tweaking” the recipe. It was inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten (“The Barefoot Contessa”). I changed a few things in the recipe, (including the sugar amount, the amount of fruit, the cooking time and the liqueur substitution) and I think it is incredible! DO NOT panic that this recipe calls for a candy thermometer. I have tried this recipe with AND without one, and if you pay close attention…it will work out either way.

I have used the finished product on toast, angel food cake, ice cream…and straight out of the jar! It is really simple and delicious – you will be wanting to make this year around!

Strawberry Jam Blog

Simple Strawberry Jam

3 pints fresh strawberries
3 cups sugar (see NOTE on sugar in recipe)
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons orange zest
1 Granny Smith apple (cored and diced)
1 cup fresh blueberries
Candy thermometer

Place the strawberries into a colander and rinse them under cold water. Be sure the strawberries are clean and free of any debris.

Drain the strawberries and place on a paper towel. Cut the tops off the strawberries (hull / clean them).

Cut the strawberries in half – but leave the smaller ones whole.

Place the cut berries into a heavy bottomed pan (Dutch oven). I used a cast iron dutch oven for this, and it worked great. I try and use cast iron when and where I can – big fan!

Pour the sugar in with the strawberries and toss to coat. Be careful not to “break up” the strawberries.

NOTE ON SUGAR – I used the “C&N” brand “Baker’s Sugar” for this recipe, which is “ultra-fine pure sugar”. The difference between this sugar and “regular” sugar is that this particular type of sugar is finely processed and “melts” into the jam better. BUT you can also use “regular” sugar – I have tried both and both work well…

Zest the orange FIRST before you try for the juice. I zest the orange right over the pot. Just eyeball 3 tablespoons. If you need to measure, please feel free.

Next, cut the oranges in half (for 3 tablespoons of zest and juice you should need about THREE oranges) and juice them. I use a juicer, but you can also use a fork and “squeeze” the orange around the fork. Do this in a measuring cup – or right into the pot for those who would rather “eyeball”.

Stir the juice and zest into the strawberries and sugar mixture carefully.

Place the pot over a MEDIUM heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Once the mixture is to a boil, add the blueberries and apple and continue stirring.

Skim any foam that might rise to the top…

Using a candy thermometer, have the mixture reach 220 degrees. This should take about 30 minutes. IF you don’t want to use a candy thermometer (I have tried this recipe with and without one) watch the jam closely at about 25 minutes. If the color is RICH and DEEP – remove from heat. Trust me…it only takes a second for the mixture to burn! As long as you are stirring the jam and watching for the rich color it will be fine.

Once the jam is dark and rich in color (ABOUT 30 minutes) the jam is done. Remove it from the heat.

Pour the jam into a large container (I used another deep pot) and let it cool to room temperature.

Once it is cooled to room temperature, place into jars and keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

To keep it longer, place in canning jars and can according to manufacturer’s directions.



Ina’s Cranberry Orange Scones

I started this blog with the intentions of not wanting to “share” other people’s recipes, but with this one, I have had a change of heart. Ina Garten is by far my favorite food personality (only next to Nigella Lawson) and every single one of Ina’s recipes that I have tried…have turned out perfectly. You might know Ina as the “Barefoot Contessa”.

A couple of weeks ago I sent a friend of mine some food pictures through the mail. One of them that I sent was my Cranberry Orange Scones. About a week later she wrote back to me asking for the recipe, saying that they simply looked delicious. I sent her the recipe and had to explain that it was not “my” recipe that I used…it was Ina Garten’s recipe. I am always thrilled to introduce people to food personalities (such as Ina and Nigella) so I thought I would share it here as well. I followed the recipe exactly as Ina wrote it, with the exception of adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the Orange Glaze… Share this recipe with everyone, explore more of Ina’s recipes and whatever you do – enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Scones

Cranberry Orange Scones

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.