Larry Caulder was a good man. My grandfather taught me many things about life, from how to say grace to how to get perfectly straight garden rows using a wheel hoe. He was the sort of person who didn’t express his feelings well or often but never let you doubt how much he loved you — he showed his affection through action, in all the ways he chose to spend his time and share his knowledge with you.
He passed away over the weekend, but the knowledge and love he shared with me will never fade. It exists in me forever, in the two spoonfuls of creamer (no sugar, thank you) that I put in my coffee to the way I search for yellow spots and thump on watermelons before buying them. All I can say is that I am lucky to have known, loved and been loved by someone who gave so freely of himself that he made others better just by knowing them.
Grandpa’s father was named William Badger, and he owned a fruit stand that sat on the side of Highway 41 in North Carolina. He was there every day from daybreak to dark, selling fruit and vegetables that he taught every customer how to sort through like it wasn’t his job to sell every piece, even the bad ones. My grandfather picked up those lessons and passed them down to me.
It sounds silly, but looking back, the one that stands out most in my memory is all about properly peeling oranges.
Getting the peel and the pith off an orange in one go, without breaking or cutting the peel, was a point of pride for him. He could get both off faster than any celebrity chef I’ve ever seen on television and he bragged about it every time. When I was 5 or 6 years old I demanded that he show me how to do it too.
Now, you don’t know my Grandpa, but trust me what I tell you this: If you asked him to show you how to do something, you were going to learn how. Even if it took a whole bag of navel oranges to get it done, which, of course, this did.
We sat in the living room for what felt like hours, grocery bags catching the trash at our feet, peeling and peeling oranges until I got it right. I had never felt quite so victorious, and you could tell Grandpa was pretty pleased too. He always liked seeing the light bulb click on when he showed someone something new.
After, we had to find something to do with all those oranges. That’s where today’s recipe comes in. Granny took our mess and turned it into a swoon-worthy orange cake.
It’s moist, flavorful and pairs well with a cup of coffee or hot breakfast tea. It is also made using the entire orange — peel, juice and pulp — so there’s no waste left behind.
For the best flavor, I recommend using the best, freshest oranges you can get your hands on. Organic, sweet, juicy oranges will give you the best yield.
Want to make your own Orange Cake with Fresh, Whole Oranges? Here’s what you need:
For the cake:
♦ 3 eggs
♦ 1 1/8 cup sugar
♦ 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
♦ 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
♦ 1/3 cup butter, softened
♦ 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
♦ 1 large organic orange, washed and cut into pieces (leave rind on)
For the glaze:
♦ Juice of one organic orange
♦ 1 cup sugar
♦ 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Here’s how to make it:
For the cake:
♦ Preheat oven to 350°F, then prepare an 8” pan by spraying it with oil or rubbing butter along the bottom. Line with parchment paper on bottom and sides, then spray the paper too.
Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until light and fluffy. Sift the flour with the baking powder then add to the mixture in the bowl a little at a time along with the s♦ oftened butter. Continue to mix until completely blended, then stir in the yogurt.
♦ Add the whole orange, including the rind, into a food processor and blend until it is almost pureed. It should look thick, not runny. Add the processed orange to the cake mixture and stir until evenly combined, then place the batter into the prepared pan.
♦ Bake for 50-60 minutes. Test with a cake tester, skewer or butter knife to make sure the cake is cooked through before removing it from the oven. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan.
For the glaze:
♦ Place the powdered sugar and vanilla extra in a small bowl. Whisk in orange juice until you reach your desired consistency.
♦ Spoon and brush over the top of the cake and allow to cool completely before cutting.