Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tea Room Recipe #43 - Sun Dial Tea Room (New Harmony, Indiana)

I love oranges. Do you? If so, you may want to try this moist, citrusy Orange Cake that is a recipe from the 1930s!

This week's tea room recipe comes from the Sun Dial Tea Room in New Harmony, Indiana, which operated from 1936-1942. I bought this cookbook online without seeing a photo of it, and I assumed because of the title it was a vintage book, but actually it's a 1998 book written by Lois Harmon Poteet, granddaughter of the tea room's operators, Carl and LeNeva Hellner. She says her grandparents were given $100 to get the tea room started. "The tables were purchased in Evansville and were painted black. They bought chairs in Tell City, Indiana, and painted them to match. Miss Fauntleroy gave the Hellners a big corner cabinet and sideboard. Antique dishes were placed on the shelves. They used green depression glass plates on the tables. There were silver decanters for vinegar, catsup and mustard. They used blue bean pots from Uhl Pottery as sugar bowls on each table …" Have you ever seen such a great description of a tea room of yesteryear? Wow!

This 1930s-era cake was simple to make, and the citrusy icing was, well, the icing on the cake. The cake is so moist, and I must say it made an excellent accompaniment to my afternoon cup of tea!

Orange Cake

1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon orange juice
Grated rind of 1 orange
8 egg yolks
2-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3/4 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 cup milk


2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons orange juice (or as needed for desired consistency)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar and shortening. Add lemon extract, orange juice, orange rind, and combine. Using an electric mixer and a smaller bowl, beat the egg yolks for about 5 minutes on high speed, until they are bright yellow and fluffy. Stir eggs into the shortening and sugar mixture. Sift baking powder and salt with the flour and add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture.

Pour batter into a tube pan prepared with cooking spray. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until top of cake is light brown and pulls away from side of pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack. For icing, combine powdered sugar, melted butter and orange juice and spread on top of cake.


  1. That does sound good! And the description of opening the tea room is wonderful.

  2. The cake sounds delicious and looks good too. What a treat to find this book.

  3. That recipe sounds like a real keeper! Thank you!

  4. That cake looks delicious. I would love to try it. Thanks for the recipe and a look into the book. Deb

  5. Thanks for the recipe, a little different. I love orange frosting on chocolate cupcakes, I make my frosting with powdered sugar, very finely grated orange rind, and orange juice, really has great orange flavor.

  6. Oh my husband would absolutely love love love this recipe - he is a huge fan of citrus!

    Thank you - the place and book sound so wonderful to learn all about.

  7. That Orange cake looks and sounds yummy! Orange cake was my father's favorite... I would have made this for him!

  8. I was so thrilled to see your post today on New Harmony, since it's "in my neck of the woods!" I wish the tearoom was still open--sure to have been a place I'd love to frequent.The little town is waning, but as quaint as ever.

  9. Looks delicious Angela! Thank you for the recipe, Joanie


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