The Best of Mother Lovett.
I’ve got Mother Lovett on the brain.
I made her orange cake for Easter, though according to her I did everything wrong, down to serving it as a layer cake and not in a 9 x 13 pan. I added cream cheese to the frosting. I forgot to put the coconut in the batter. I zested the oranges myself instead of berating my husband like a child until he caved under my abuse and scraped every last bit of rind from the sweet citrus.
It’s hard to believe that today marks two whole years since we said our goodbyes to her. At times it feels like just yesterday I was standing in her kitchen, gulping over-sweetened iced tea to cure my unquenchable thirst and sneaking way too many Snickers bars from the cupboard below the bar. I reset her kitchen timer to make sure she didn’t burn the (millionth) batch of chocolate chip cookies and I threw away the aluminum foil that had blanketed her baking tins since 2002. Someone had to do it.
I’ve already told you about how she was stubborn and proud and strong and courageous and stubborn. I’ve already told you how we served her half a birthday cake on her 88th birthday, and just happened to be lucky enough that she was too short to notice.
Facts of her life are peppered across this blog. She married brothers. She walked around with four blockages in three arteries for over 20 years, surviving on buttered crackers and lard-laden pie crusts. She accidentally hoarded condiments, surely a symptom of the Great Depression, leading us to laughs that begin in the bottom of your belly and rise up… all over a bottle of soy sauce that expired in 1979. She once rolled down the grassy bank in front of her house while picking some weeds. She never got names correct; after an hour-long visit one afternoon she was shocked to discover that I wasn’t my cousin Lacy.
I’ve already told you about the times we’d take her grocery shopping and she’d ask in her loudest possible voice, “Eh…. where are the maxi-pads without wings?!”
And I’ve already told you as much as I can possibly tell you about a 4-foot-eleven, legally blind and legally deaf little spark plug, one who wore high heels until the day she died and drew on eyebrows with pink lip liner. I wish that she would have been living when I started this blog, selfishly of course, because she would have given me fabulous material like she did back in early 2008.
Grumpily, Mother Lovett complained, “Well, I didn’t get to watch my stories today. Omaha was on all afternoon.”
“Omaha? What’s Omaha?”
“You know! Omaha. The guy that’s going to be our president.”
Gratefully she blessed her offspring with this trait, as my mom spent a full 10 minutes last fall raving about “the best tai chi she had ever tasted.”
“This tai chi was just so delicious. I had never tried tai chi before. Oh, it was so wonderful. I wonder if I could make it at home?”
“Um, mom? Pretty sure you mean chai tea.”
So the only other thing you need to know is that you must make this cake. Juicy oranges, creamy yellow cake, sweet and shredded coconut… all enveloped with a creamy orange frosting and a heavy-handed dusting of coconut. It’s perfect.
Juicy Orange Cake
makes two 8-inch layer cakes
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup orange zest
2-3 tablespoons of milk if needed
1 cup shredded coconut
10-12 oranges zested and juiced (use what’s need for the cake, if there is leftovers use it for the frosting)
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Zest and juice the oranges.
Sift flour, salt and baking power and set aside. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. After the mixture has come together, add in half the of the dry ingredients and mix. Add in the orange juice, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Add in the orange zest and fold in coconut and mix until dispersed. Add milk if needed.
Pour batter in two 8-inch buttered and floured cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cake is not jiggly in the middle. Let cool completely before frosting.
Note: Cakes with shredded coconut in the batter tend to be a bit crumbly. Also, this recipe came with NO instructions. I had to make some up as I went a long, but if you feel you need more liquid, add store bought orange juice or more milk until you get the consistency of cake batter.
2 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 8-ounce black of cream cheese, softened
4 1/2 – 5 cups of powdered sugar (based of your desired consistency)
2-3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons (or more) orange zest
2-3 cups shredded coconut
Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on slow speed, gradually increasing as you go. Add the orange juice and zest. If more liquid is required, add orange juice. Frost cake as desired and then cover with coconut.
I’m still full from yesterday.
121 Comments on “The Best of Mother Lovett.”
Oh Jessica, the tribute to her is sooo touching. Funny, witty, bittersweet. Your writing is beautiful. I can picture her soo well. My grandma and her..the same, 4’11”, legally blind, cooked without recipes, ate butter and lard, didnt worry about it, mine also walked to morning mass every day up til she was about 85 or so. Died at 90. Also a Depression survivor so hoarding Folgers coffee cans was par for the course.
This cake. No words. It looks beyond moist and perfect. Love the plate, too!
This makes me miss my grandma.
That cake looks amazing!! I want a piece :)
Your Mother Lovett stories are always beautiful and charming. They’re so descriptive of her personality that I can actually picture her in my mind.
She’s lucky to have a granddaughter who keeps her spirit alive, and spreads her stories and recipes.
And that cake looks amazing!
Sweet, sweet memories. That’s the part of baking/cooking I eat up the most.
I’m so glad you use your blog as a way to remember Mother Lovett – I love hearing about her all the time!
What a sweet post! I think we’ve all fallen in love with Mother Lovett through your blog posts <3 Thanks for sharing her with us.
mmm looks like a perfect breakfast cake! :)
Mother Lovett reminds me of my grandma who is just starting to get up there in age. Which reminds me, I need to go visit her soon!
This makes me think of my grandmother. I love how you tell her stories through this blog, and the recipes look wonderful! If there is one thing about that generation it is that they know how to bake the good stuff, the real stuff!
That’s the truth!
I think she’d be so happy to know you are honoring her memory, even if you make her recipes the “wrong” way!
Oh YUM! Now this one is totally my kind of treat! I love making things that remind me of my grandmother. She is still here, but sadly I can’t see her as much. She is such an inspiration for me and the holidays are definitely those times to remember the ones we love (even if they were tough on us). The cake is beautiful!
You always make me smile with your ML stories! :)
Mother Lovett sounds like such a character — I love your description of her — right down to the handdrawn eyebrows with pink lipliner.
Paints a vivid picture, no? ;)
Aww loved this post about Mother Lovett!! :D
That cake looks amazing!! My grandfather would have loved it….he loved anything sweet and coconutty!
This made me smile and reminded me of my own sweet Granny called Eva, who rolled ribbon from presents and stashed them in a box, had a chocolate tin in which she kept a bar of dark chocolate but only EVER ate one square a day. She always wore gloves and called women she didn’t like ‘silly cats’. I loved her so and miss her to this day. Thank you for reminding me of my own ‘Mother Lovett’ and thank you for a delightful blog….just discovered by my daughter and sent to me…..
I love when you write about her :) Bring a big smile to my face every time. The comment that got me most this time was “Omaha. The guy that wants to be president” hahahahhahahah. Just awesome. And the cake looks delicious. I’m sure she would happily eat it if she was here :)
i wish i’d known her too! my grandma and mimi both are/were some sassy women who know how to cook and love their families well!
and, well, you know how i feel about that orange cake. please send some ASAP.
How nice of you to continue to honor such a wonderful lady. It is amazing how much one person can truly touch your life.. and extremely funny how the elderly can put laughter into a situation without even realizing it! Beautiful words.. and delicious looking cake!
I know. I can’t wait until I’m old and can say/do whatever I want!
I LOVE when you write about your grandmother! She sounds like a unique, interesting, fantastic lady and I’m sure she adores every post you write about her too! Beautiful post, and awesome recipe!
I wish I had a Mother Lovett!
Aawws…you brought tears to my eyes this morning, along with the laughs! :-) Mother Lovett was obviously very special to you, Jessica. I wish I had known her. She lives on through your beautiful stories about her…she would be so proud of you!
Goodness this cake sounds amazing…we adore coconut and of course orange flavored anything. This sounds so perfect for spring!
I am SO glad you put this recipe up, the cake looks delicious and your story, as always, is simultaneously funny, touching, and hunger-inducing. I LOVE orange flavored desserts, in fact I just made my mom’s orange nut cake with chocolate ganache frosting for Passover. This will be next!!
That sounds incredible.
Lovely tribute post. Mother Lovett sounds like a hoot! Reminds me of my Granny who called Obama, Osama and thought he was a Mexican terrorist! LOL!
LOL! Love that they can’t hear a thing.
What amazing memories you have!!
This cake looks wonderful – it’s a great way to remember her on Easter Weekend.
What a sweet post (no pun intended). My grandmother is 92 and it sounds like she and Mother Lovett have a good bit in common.
My mother made a similar cake this weekend, but with lemon curd instead of the orange. I think it was a Martha Stewart if you’d like to try her directions next time!
That sounds delicious!
So nice you can remember her like this…I’m sure she’d be very proud of this cake:)
I absolutely love your stories about Mother Lovett – she sounds hilarious and also, inspiring.
Well Jess – you know what they say about great minds.
We’re both Nikon D girls and we both got the idea for Orange Coconut cake for dessert on Easter!
I’m sure your Nan would be proud of you. I lost my precious mother two years ago at only 59 and the holiday are like a bunt cake now – comforting but with a big old hole in the middle.
Jessica, this post should win awards for your writing. Gosh was mother Lovett filled with life, spirit and character. I would love to hear more of your family stories while inhaling this divine cake! xo
I love your first picture! It’s so funny because yesterday my grandma pulled out this recipe (I’m not even sure what it was for) and it was on this yellowed piece of paper that looked like it was about to disintegrate! Grandmas are awesome. :-)
She sounds like such a firecracker, this post makes me miss my nana, my fondest memories of her are in the kitchen :)
haha tae chi haha
Everything about that cake screams spring!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!
i love how certain dishes will always remind you of certain people. twice baked potatoes will forever remind me of my great grandfather who used to eat a plateful of them at the kids table because they were “easy on the gums”.
sounds like a great lady.
Twice baked potatoes remind me of my paternal grandma! They are so good.
I had orange cake for Easter, too! This looks amazing and I love the orange frosting with coconut. Looks delicious!
This looks heavenly! And what wonderful stories you have of your grandmother. I loved reading it and look forward to more “stories” in your blog! You’ve just inspired me to go dig out some of my grandmother’s old handwritten recipes just so I can reminisce as well. Thanks for sharing!
This was such a beautiful piece! It was a fantastic homage to what sounds like an absolutely fantastic woman.
Beautiful writing. I love Mother Lovett stories – especially about the brothers! And I LOVE that you call her a spark plug, what great imagery!
Grandmothers are so precious in so many ways! And they always have the best recipes.
We all need a Mother Lovett in our lives, don’t we? But not all of us get one. You were truly blessed.
This cake sounds like something I would absolutely LOVE. It’s going in my bookmarks!! (wonder how it would do as cupcakes…..?)
Happy Monday, chickie!! xoxo
I love your remembrance posts honoring your grandmothers – I hope I can do my loved ones as much justice when they pass.
The cake looks absolutely fantastic as well.
Love the stories about Mother Lovett. Really shows your die-hard love for that woman.
I am still full too. I was outta town all day so when I got home, I dug right into the peanut butter hot fudge cupcakes. I ate the first one in four bites, so of course I had another one. Absolutely to-die-for.
Wonderful recipe and a touching story, Jessica. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post and your mouthwatering recipe! :)
This makes me want to go hug my Nanny. Mother Lovett sounds like an amazing grandma. :)
What a tribute! She sounds like a gem! xo – Katrina
This is so beautiful! As a new reader, I am gravitating to everything you wrote about her because you described her to be such an interesting woman in this post. You are such a great writer! Love it!
haha mother lovett sounds so sweet. This cake looks and sounds awesome too. Yum!
Suuuuuch a cute story!!! :) Juicy cake? I’m in….that last photo says it all!! I lost it with the “tai chi.” hahahaa
Even your fork is beautiful. Beautiful post.
I have always loved reading your posts about your beloved Grandma. Her love for baking clearly shines from within you! :)
PS my grandpa married sisters! :P
great story. :)
Now this cake looks so fluffy and airy, am I right? I have to get my hands on a slice. hehe. Spring is here!