Pillsbury Bake-Off 1950

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The Grand Prize-Winning Recipe from the 2nd Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1950 was “Orange Kiss-Me Cake.”  If you google the name of the cake, pages upon pages will appear, which doesn’t necessarily happen with other Bake-Off recipes.  This cake is considered a classic and from what I read on google hits, people still love this cake today.  I don’t know if it’s because the title is intriguing, or if because it is made with an entire fresh orange – pulp, skin, and juice so it seems healthy and less wasteful, or maybe because it’s just so darn good and has passed the test of time!  No matter the reason, Mrs. Peter Wuebel (Lily) of Redwood City, California came up with a classic winning recipe and won $25, 000 for her idea.  Pillsbury called making the cake a “quick-mix method.”
When I followed the links to numerous sites about the cake, I found that many people reprinted the recipe but made changes, such as using butter instead of shortening, or using cashews instead of walnuts.  I’m sure there are many ways to make the cake taste different and still good, but for my purposes of this blog, I am making all the Bake-Off recipes exactly as printed.  This recipe led to some interesting use of kitchen equipment.  The recipe says to “grind together” the orange, raisins, and walnuts.  Hmmm… there were no food processors as we know them today back in 1950.  My guess was that a real old-fashioned food and meat grinder was used –  and I just happen to have my mother-in-law’s old one which is exactly the same kind my mother had when I was a child.  It actually was fun using it.  It’s very heavy and has to be attached to a table or counter edge and then hand-cranked.  I liked it so much, I am going to use it again for something!  But don’t worry- if you don’t have an old hand crank grinder, a food processor will work just fine.  Just make sure you don’t overprocess the mixture and make it into mush!  The cake is so moist and flavorful with a fresh taste from using the entire orange.  It will keep for days in a covered container.
It would be interesting to know how Mrs. Wuebel  came up with the title.  Did her husband love the cake so much that it would elicit a kiss of gratitude for making it?  Or as some suggested in google search, that since the cake uses an orange, did she take the name from Kissimmee, Florida where oranges are abundant?  Others suggest that the name was from the Broadway play, “Kiss Me Kate.”  I like that explanation myself!  “Kiss Me Kate” opened on Broadway in December of 1948, two years before the contest.  It was a huge hit that was the only one of Cole Porter’s musicals to exceed one thousand performances, and performed all over the world in over a dozen translations.  In Poland, “Kiss Me Kate” was the first American musical comedy ever seen in that country.  The movie version was released in 1953. It sounds like it was the perfect title for the times, not to mention that it’s just fun to say it and watch people’s reaction!  Whatever the reason, you just might get a kiss from someone after making this cake.
Here is a list of other money-winners from this contest:
-$10,000 2nd Prize Winner Senior Contest:  Peanut Crust Pie
-$4,000 3rd Prize Winner Senior Contest:  Half-Time Spoon Rolls
-$1,000 Senior Best of Class Winner:  Square Dance Nut Cake
-$1,000 Senior Best of Class Winner:  Missouri Waltz Brownies
-$1,000 Senior Best of Class Winner:  Limelight Pie
-$1,000 Senior Best of Class Winner:  Cheese Snack Bread
-$1,000 Senior Best of Class Winner:  Tomato Cheeserole Dinner
-$1,000 Senior Best of Class Winner:  Old Virginia Cobbler
-$5,000 1st Prize Winner Junior Contest:  Cherry Winks (still a popular cookie!)
-$3,000 2nd Prize Winner Junior Contest:  Nut Basket Tarts
-$1,000 3rd Prize Winner Junior Contest:  Funny Face Hamburgers
5.0 from 3 reviews
Orange Kiss-Me Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Serves: 12
Orange Kiss-Me Cake won the 2nd Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1950.
  • 1 whole large orange
  • 1 cup seedless raisins
  • ⅓ cup walnuts
  • 2 cups Pillsbury All-Purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • Orange-Nut Topping:
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • Orange slices for garnish, optional
  1. Grind together orange, raisins, and ⅓ cup walnuts; set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, soda, salt, and 1 cup sugar into bowl of electric mixer. Add shortening and ¾ cup of the milk. Beat for 2 minutes until well blended.
  3. Add eggs and remaining ¼ cup milk. Beat for 2 minutes.
  4. Fold orange mixture into batter. Pour into a well-greased and lightly floured 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes or until cake tests done by inserting toothpick into center that comes out clean.
  6. For topping: While cake is still warm, spoon ⅓ cup orange juice evenly over top of cake. Combine the 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ cup chopped walnuts and sprinkle evenly over cake. Let cake cool on wire rack.

Click here to view the recipe for “Orange Kiss-Me Cake” on the Pillbury site.

To read all about the Bake-Off go to http://www.bakeoff.com/

To read my blog about Bake-Off # 1 to go:  https://theculinarycellar.com/first-pillsbury-bake-off-1949/

Bake-Off food photos are taken by my daughter, Kristina Vanni. Check out Kristina’s blog at:


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23 Responses to Pillsbury Bake-Off 1950

  1. May 25, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    Great writing as always! I have this bake-off book in my collection, but have never made this cake. Now, I know what I will be baking this weekend since I just happen to have some oranges on hand. I’m going with the “Kiss Me Kate” theory on the name-very clever.

  2. May 25, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Lisa, I think you will love this cake! It smells wonderful while baking.

  3. May 25, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Debbie –
    I like to think that her husband took a bite, his eyes lit up and he said “My favorite – Oranges!” And then gave her a big kiss!
    Thanks for a little bit of Bake-Off history!


  4. May 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    That is so cute, Linda!

  5. May 26, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    I love this entry! Of course I also have mom’s grinder in the basement. All our moms had one for cooking! I think that it was used to stretch many kinds of food. I remember her grinding our own hamburg for sure. I can’t wait to try this cake! Donna dmr301

  6. May 26, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    Oranges are so refreshing and flavorful in a cake. I love the idea of using a whole orange in the recipe. No wonder it was a winner. I will definitely try this recipe!

  7. May 26, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Refreshing and aromatic perfectly describe this lovely cake. Hope you like it!

  8. May 26, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Hi Donna! Gotta love those old food grinders! Not very attractive things, but they get the job done like no other. I use my old one for ham and chicken salad, too.

  9. January 16, 2017 at 11:57 am #

    Stumbled upon this blog while searching citrus vintage recipes. I live in sunny South Florida with citrus trees in my backyard. I also have a lot of vintage kitchen tools inherited from my Mother and Love that this one used an old-fashioned meat grinder! I will be making this for sure! I’m a huge fan of Grand national and Pillsbury Bake-Off winning recipes! Thank you!

    • January 16, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

      Hi Renee! How lucky you are to have citrus trees in your backyard. I hope you like this recipe. It was very popular in the ’50’s and is still one of the most searched Bake-Off recipes. One of my favorites too. I also love that it uses an old grinder, although I suspect most will use a food processor now, but nothing gets that perfect consistency like the old grinders! Thanks so much for writing.

  10. May 26, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

    This was one of my family’s favorite cakes when I was a kid. So glad I found it again cause my kids love it too. It’s so much easier now with a food processor than it was with a food mill!

    • May 26, 2017 at 11:20 pm #

      It’s a timeless recipe, and you’re right – much easier with a food processor!

  11. September 12, 2017 at 12:55 am #

    When I was single and a teacher in the1960s, I took this cake to a gathering of teachers. One of the bachelor teachers stated that it was so good it almost warranted a proposal of marriage.I didn’t accept the proposal and I’ve long since lost track of him but I still have this recipe in my file and still make it occasionally.

    I have a grinder attachment for my Kitchen-Aid that is perfect for this recipe. Grinding gives a different texture to the orange peel than does the food processor. Some have commented that the cake seems bitter. I think it’s because the food processor extracts more of the bitter oils from the rind whereas the grinder leaves the rind in larger sweeter pieces.

    • September 12, 2017 at 7:57 am #

      I love your story, Barbara, and agree with you about the food processor vs food grinder! Food grinder wins every time for this recipe.

  12. December 29, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    My mom made this cake a lot! My dad absolutely loved it

    • December 31, 2017 at 8:23 pm #

      It’s a good one! I know a lot of people who still make this cake.

  13. December 4, 2018 at 8:05 pm #

    This was my favorite cake when I was a child (I am now 72). I had a copy of the original recipe taken from a magazine, I believe, which I laminated. Unfortunately, I went to look for it and could not find it, so I went searching for the original recipe. So glad you posted the original one with a real orange in it, not orange juice concentrate!

    • December 21, 2018 at 12:00 pm #

      Hi Catherine- I don’t know why Pillsbury changes some of the old recipes, when they are better than the new versions! The cake is one of my favorites too.

  14. December 18, 2018 at 1:31 pm #

    Just received a large basket of oranges from a friend and suddenly remembered my mother making a dessert she called Orange Kiss Me Cake. I lost the oroiginal recipe and was thrilled to find it on the internet. Made it today and found it was still as wonderful. I quartered the orange and placed it with the raisins and walnuts in the food processor. It was so easy.

    • December 21, 2018 at 9:57 am #

      The “Orange Kiss-Me-Cake” is still highly requested and so good! I love it too, and also use a food processor. Much easier than putting ingredients through one of those old hand grinders!

  15. September 28, 2019 at 9:48 pm #

    Hi Debbie,

    My mother was one of 100 entries who won the trip to New York that year in the ‘junior’ division. She was 18 and won the trip with her entry of a cake. She said you were allowed to go to your cooking station and cook your original recipe as many times as you wanted and then pick the best one to enter. She cooked her cake only once and then her mother, sister and her left and went to see the Statue of Liberty and have a drink at Dampsey’s Bar! 🙂 She can’t remember the name of her cake and doesn’t have the cookbook for that year (1950) so I was wondering if you could look up her recipe for me? I appreciate it!

  16. October 19, 2020 at 9:04 am #

    My mother would make this cake fairly often, as she collected all the Pillsbury cookbooks and used the best recipes. We loved everything.

    • October 21, 2020 at 8:31 am #

      Hi Polly, my mom used to make the cake too, and it’s still one of my favorite Bake-Off recipes. It’s nice to have those memories, isn’t it?

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