Ho-kay. I made and frosted the cake and brought it to the party and got rave reviews and the only people who didn't try it were those who were allergic to nuts or who don't like orange cake in the first place. We brought a little over a quarter of it home mainly because there was soooo much food there... The host, who's a part-time professional caterer, wants a copy of the recipe!
My copy of the recipe is in my seventh-grade (age about 12) affected-style printing, which I did because my mother's original was getting so battered. The recipe goes back at least to the 1940s or early '50s, and it's written in just such a style. I'm going to post it here but in more like modern cookbook style.
Fresh Orange Layer Cake
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
Grated rind of 1 orange (about 1 tsp.)
1 cup liquid (1/4 cup unstrained orange juice plus 3/4 cup water or milk)
2 eggs, unbeaten
Sift together sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add shortening, grated orange rind, and two-thirds of the liquid, and beat vigorously with a spoon or with electric mixer on slow to medium for about 2 minutes. Add remaining third of the liquid and the eggs and beat for 2 more minutes. Pour into 2 prepared 8" baking pans, bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes. Cool.
Creamy Nut Filling and Frosting
2 1/2 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar [ordinary, granulated sugar is understood here]
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
Into the flour gradually blend the milk. Cook to very thick paste (about 10 min.), stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, cream together butter, shortening, sugar, and salt. Add the lukewarm paste. Beat with rotary beater until fluffy. Fold in vanilla and nuts. Use about one-third the amount for filling. To remainder, blend in the sifted confectioner's sugar for top and sides of cake.
Now for the footnotes. This recipe is so old that the cake part specifies "double-action" baking powder and "high-grade" vegetable shortening. And the ingredients don't appear at the top; they're mentioned only as they come into the process. It has taken me forever to turn this all around into modern standard format, and proofread it to death. I think I'll copy it over this way for myself as well, so it's easier to assemble everything ahead of time and not have it take an hour to do so!
And what I used was a navel orange, which it seems are lighter in flavor than the standard seeded oranges, even though they're larger. I'm remembering a stronger flavor, and hubby agreed that it ought to be stronger (in fact he brought it up first). So even though the proportion of juice to water was larger for me, it still wasn't enough, and same with the grated rind. Plan accordingly. (Yes, I used the juice of the same orange that I grated the zest off of. It's what Mom always did.)
As for the nuts, what Mom always used was walnuts, so that's what I used as well. I suppose you could use any kind you like--or leave them out altogether if you don't want them for whatever reason. And instead of coarse-chopping them, I ground them, which is what Mom used to do, especially in later years when my parents had no bottom teeth. And if you like your outer frosting stiffer (and maybe sweeter), you might use more confectioner's sugar, because even with the one cup, it was very soft. Don't expect it to harden! Oh, and since the recipe says "rotary beater" for the frosting, I assume they're talking about the manual variety which we used to have back when (we called them "egg beaters" then); I just used the electric hand mixer again. Or you could use your muscles.
Needless to say, time was when oranges and walnuts were Christmas stocking staples, and in Mom's day it was about the only time of year that the poor got oranges! And Mom's family was poor. So when she found this recipe, it literally screamed "Christmas" at her! And it was a real treat for me to taste this cake again, which I hadn't since the last one Mom made, which has to be at least 23 years ago!
I think I'll make another one for Christmas Day, either for us or to bring to wherever we're having dinner.