Appalachia Appalachian Food Christmas Holidays in Appalachia

Orange Slice Cake for Christmas

Going to Granny's for Christmas in Appalachia

Paul, Tipper, Granny Gazzie, and Steve – Christmas 1980s

When the girls were small and couldn’t find something they wanted to eat I’d send them down to Granny’s and Pap’s to see what they had. Actually the girls are still known to head down to Granny’s for something to eat on occasion. There’s usually leftovers in the frig, biscuits on the table, and cornbread on the counter. Not to mention, Granny has a stash of candy in a drawer and a supply of Little Debbies in a cabinet.

We lived too far away from Granny Gazzie to raid her house for food. Since I didn’t spend as much time there as my girls do at Granny and Pap’s I never felt comfortable prowling through her cabinets or drawers for a snack. But Granny Gazzie did have candy to share.

She always had orange slice candy, stick candy, and those foam looking peanut shaped things. I can never see those candies that I don’t think of her offering me a piece, especially at Christmas time.

Over a year ago I came across a recipe for orange slice cake in my favorite Appalachian Cook Book: More Than Moonshine by Sidney Saylor Farr. The recipe immediately made me think of Granny Gazzie, but I never got around to trying it. A few weeks later Granny found the same recipe in the Nov/Dec issue of the NC Farm Bureau Magazine. She made the cake and shared it with us and Chatter just loved it!

You need:

  • 1 cup margarine or butter (I used butter)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk with 1 tsp baking soda mixed in
  • 3 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 box dates chopped fine (I used the 8oz. box)
  • 1 can flake coconut (I didn’t have a can-so I used a cup of coconut)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries cut in half
  • 1 pound orange sliced candy cut fine (I use the 14 oz bag)

orange slice cake

old time orange slice cake

recipe for orange slice candy cake

Cream butter and sugar
Add eggs one at a time-mixing well after each.
Alternately add the buttermilk and 3 cups of flour-mixing well after each addition.

Use the remaining 1/2 cup flour to coat candy, dates, nuts, and cherries.

Add flour coated items and coconut to the batter and mix well. It’s a very stiff batter at this point.

The recipe calls for a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan baked at 250° for two and half hours. Since I like to share our cake I divide the batter into two regular size loaf pans and two mini loaf pans. I also bump the oven up to 300°. It still takes well over an hour for the cakes to bake, of course the mini loaves finish before the regular size ones.

Granny's fruit cake with orange slice candy

Even though the Orange Slice Cake takes some time and energy to make it is very good and the flavors make it seem perfect for this time of the year.


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  • Reply
    January 9, 2018 at 8:12 am


  • Reply
    December 15, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Have made a similar one-delicious!
    Anyone ever make a Sausage cake? Have the recipe?

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    December 12, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Interesting: Ed Ammons talks about wax candy. That’s how Kasie and I refer to those Dolly Madison treats called “Donettes”, where six small donut-like confections are bought in a small package (Little Debbie has them, too) We always call those little donuts “Wax Donuts” because we know that the chocolate coating depends on paraffin as a primary ingredient.

  • Reply
    December 11, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    I make this from my grandma Bonnie’s recipe. Her’s added a glaze of 1 cup brown sugar with a small can of frozen orange juice concentrate poured over the cake while it is hot.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    December 11, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I laugh at people who don’t like fruit cake as this is another type. I know they have never had a homemade fruitcake but just those nasty store bought things. Sounds and looks delicious.

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    December 11, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    i love the sound of that recipe and will be trying it out you have a lot of great memories to go with it have a greatday

  • Reply
    December 11, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I remember those wonderful days when I had relatives I felt comfortable enough to prowl for something to eat. I had one aunt who always had cathead biscuits which I loved. She also bought my first cottage cheese which I tried and loved right today. It was not uncommon to be close enough to cousins so that they felt like siblings. We still keep close in touch right today.
    My Mother made an applesauce cake for many over the holidays, and it had additives. I never did care for it, but I probably would love a cake with orange slices baked in. When visiting my grandmother each child would get one orange slice per day for a treat. Sometimes it was another type of candy, but we really loved the orange slices.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 11, 2017 at 10:59 am

    We always called it wax candy. I know not why. Similar candy in different sizes and shapes were gum drops. I still call it wax candy. There was orange and green. The orange was delicious, the green was nasty. The orange tasted like oranges, the green like toothpaste. Hardly anybody liked the green so we would give 10 greens for one orange.

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    December 11, 2017 at 10:57 am

    My mother-in-law makes an orange slice cake but it doesn’t have the goodies in it that this one does. I never cared for hers (very unusual–she’s a great cook) but this one sounds yummy.
    Got my fruit cakes made. Mine are made without the citrus peel and we all like it that way. Just candied fruit, dates, pecans in a simple batter. It also takes a long baking time. It’s one of my better efforts!
    As Christmas approaches, I begin to think of the past. My grandmother made a coconut cake that was out of this world. She used real coconuts & it was so moist she stuck in toothpicks to hold it together. My mother -in-law is famous for her coconut cakes and they are delicious but incredibly Granny’s were better. Or maybe my taste buds were better in those days.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    December 11, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Oh, horsefeathers! I’ve been doing so well trying to stick to my diet between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. That was… until now. Orange slices are my Achilles heel! I have always loved those things (oh, and if you are ever able to find the Sunkist fruit disks they are deadly good). Guess I’ll have to give this a try. Maybe if I make them in the loaf pans and quick put the extra in the freezer…

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    December 11, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Mama made delicious orange slice bar cookies, so I think this cake should be equally delicious!
    Once, years ago, on a plane headed to Oregon, I was seated next to a nice man who was en route to his father’s funeral. The father, I learned, was the man who invented the machine that makes orange slice candy! I am still grateful to that unknown inventor!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2017 at 9:40 am

    We always had orange slice candy at Christmas when I was a kid. Daddy bought them 2 miles down the road at Mr Bucks, our local country store.
    I’ve got to make this cake! Just wish daddy and Mr Buck were here to share it with me.

  • Reply
    Sallie R Swor
    December 11, 2017 at 9:38 am

    My mother probably found her recipe in So. Living also. It was expected every year after that. Later I found instructions for gum drop roses and added those. They are easy. Just mash a large gum drop by rolling with a rolling pin using granulated sugar to keep from sticking as if rolling a floured dough. Cut them across in half then roll up over-lapping another half to make the rose larger. Squeeze the bottom which is the sticky cut edge to make them stay together. Carefully pull the “petals” apart slightly to open the “flower”. Roll a large green gum drop and cut a petal shape with a knife. Insert the end of the petal under the flower and squeeze to secure. Makes that cake extra fancy. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 11, 2017 at 9:32 am

    One difference in the orange slice cake Mama made and your recipe is that she used black walnuts instead of pecans. Our daughter Sarah and I have made it several Christmases. I like to throw in some pineapple chunks.
    This cake keeps for a LONG time. I’ve got a little chunk in our refrigerator from two years ago 😉

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 11, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Tipper–Momma made orange slice cake every year and although I don’t have her recipe I suspect it was quite similar to the one you offer. Her cake was incredibly rich, very moist, and in essence a variation on fruit cake.Since she had already made a number of applesauce cakes at Thanksgiving time and kept them until Christmas (adding a bit of apple cider to them for moisture from time to time, we had lots of sweets for snacks, a field lunch when hunting, and for special holiday meals.
    Just reading today’s blog evoked some warm memories of Momma and the season.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    December 11, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Looks like a fruitcake and I bet it tastes good!

  • Reply
    Lonormi Manuel
    December 11, 2017 at 8:35 am

    My mother made this every year! I still have the recipe she tore out of Southern Living magazine sometime in the 1960s!!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2017 at 8:18 am

    My e-mail didn’t get here until 7:48 and I thought I might be early for a change. Although I don’t care for Christmas Cake, it looks good and real colorful. I’m looking forward to your blog about Power Outage and all that Snow we got. I didn’t come in for 2 days when everybody got 6″ or more and the first day I had 9″. A lot more came down after that. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 11, 2017 at 8:15 am

    What is there not to like? Lots of goodies in there. It is sorta headed toward a fruit cake but without all the weeks of making one. But my wife does not like gummy candies.
    I think I would go hog wild and try to get a mix of slices; lime, lemon, orange and some more red. Probably ruin it.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 11, 2017 at 7:55 am

    It looks good. I saw a recipe years ago, don’t remember where though. Never did try it but it looks really good

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 11, 2017 at 7:13 am

    Tip, it sounds and looks wonderful, I have always loved those orange slices but I never thought of putting them in a cake.
    Isn’t it interesting that you and Granny came across the same recipe in two different places at the same time!

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