Sweet Orange and Coconut

Last Monday would have been Grandma’s 82nd birthday.  This was the first year I didn’t get to call her, hear her laugh, and share in another year of her life.  Since Gram’s birthday was typically around Easter, we always double downed and did 2x the celebrating.  If you’re part of the Yoder clan, every birthday my mother (or grandma) will cook you a dinner and dessert of your choice.  Seriously, one of the biggest perks ever.  Anything and everything.  Nothing is off limits.  My gram’s always requested orange cake with whipped coconut icing.  It was her favorite.  One of my favorite photos of her is two years ago blowing out the cake my mom had baked for her.


Today, in my little ode to grams, I decided to make her favorite.  Orange cake with coconut icing.  Now, in normal grandma form, I decided to spruce up something store bought.  Yes, I bought a box cake.  Sue me.  I went with Betty Crocker Butter Recipe Yellow Cake.  This calls for 3 eggs, 1 cup of water and 1/3 cup of butter.  By changing the water into orange juice, a dash of orange extract and some orange zest… VOILA, awesome cake that NO ONE would be able to tell was store bought.  Save’s you some time and money, which in my book is always a plus!  

Now, I did make the icing from scratch.  Cream cheese icings are always my favorite and gram’s LOVED whipped sugar icing so I combined the two into one awesome combo.  I know that orange and coconut is not normally a combo most people are used to, but trust me, you’ll enjoy this!  A little tangy with a little sweet.  It’s the perfect combo for the wonderful lady that was grams.  So without further ado, Orange Coconut Cake.


Quick Orange Cake:

  • 1 box cake mix (I used Betty Crocker’s Butter Recipe Yellow Cake)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 stick softened butter
  • 3 Oranges (to make 1 cup of juice + zest)
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 T orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 °. Open and pour cake mix in a large bowl.  Add butter, eggs, and orange extract.  Zest one orange into mixture.  Juice three oranges to make 1 cup of orange juice (you could just use orange juice as well if you want). Mix all ingredients together well. Pour in pre-greased 8″ cake pan (make sure this is a tall 2.5-3″ pan).  Put in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until inserted knife comes out clean.  Place cake on cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing. 

Make sure someone enjoys the batter with this one haha.  Don’t worry, the hubs licked the bowl first. Now, onto the icing!


Coconut Whipped Icing:

  • 1 – 8 oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (or icing sugar)
  • 1/2 T orange extract
  • 1/2 T of vanilla extract
  • 1-3 T of milk (optional, add to icing if you would like it more runny)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded coconut (put more/less depending on taste)

Place softened butter in bowl.  Beat until creamy.  Add room temperature cream cheese, whip with butter until smooth.  Add both vanilla and orange extract.  Beat until smooth.  Slowly incorporate powder sugar.  If the icing is too thick, add milk a tablespoon at a time to thin out.  Before icing cake, add wax paper around bottom of the cake.  This will make sure that you don’t get icing all over your plate and create a picture perfect cake! Pour icing on cake and spread evenly.  ***Make sure cake is completely cool before doing this.  Once icing is even, sprinkle coconut on top and sides.  Allow icing to set, remove wax paper, and serve.  Enjoy!

Photography and writing by:

Alysha Yoder Photography

(b) www.alyshayoderphotoblog.com (w) www.alyshayoderphoto.com

(e) alyshayoderphoto@yahoo.com (p) 610.762.7810




White Peaks and Zest

Man… I have had a craving for something like this recipe for a long time.  Plus, I picked up these AWESOME bowls at Costco this weekend and I couldn’t wait to get them home to photograph.  It looks like I had someone make them for me.  But between you and I, this will be our little secret as to where they were purchased from.  I’m thinking an ice cream recipe will have to be in the making for next week.  And yes, solely because of these dishes.  Don’t judge.  I’ve photographed things before based around an entire found object.  I have this lovely old used “made in Vermont stamped” cutting board I found at Roots Farmer’s Market.  It has all these wonderful knife marks and wear and tear.  Props are a very important part of the business and finding little beauties like these just make my day 🙂



As many of you know, gram’s was literally involved in EVERYTHING.  From volunteer work, to bakeoffs, to fundraisers, she was there.  Even from a young age, this was true.  A few of the books that I inherited from her were various cookbooks that she had worked with, her mother worked with, they were in, or they’d helped to get published.  This was one from her mother’s young days growing up in Vandergrift, PA. Her church put together this fantastic cookbook.  It’s from 1923 and the front has a little handwritten “Barclay” in it (my gram’s maiden name). Now the recipe I’m doing today isn’t gram’s or my great gram’s (it comes from Mrs. W. W. Poorman, thank you!), howwwever, it was from a book that the family helped get published to raise money for her church, so I think it counts.  Plus, this book is a treasure trove of old school recipes.  There is one in it for squirrel.  Seriously.  I’m not lying.  Freaking squirrel.  And no, I’m never going to go out and butcher a squirrel for this blog, but that was a surprise.

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a soft spot for what I consider “PA Dutch Recipes,” if the last name Yoder didn’t give you a clue lol.  I’m pretty sure the love for PA Dutch food runs through my veins.  You wait till New Year’s, and there will definitely be pork, kielbasa, and sauerkraut recipes up on here.

There is a farmer’s stand about 3 miles from my house where Mennonite ladies lay out their fares of assorted homemade pies, breads, and jams.  Lemon sponge pie is always among their wares. It’s where I was first introduced to this sweet treat and man, I LOVE lemon sponge pie.  With the whipped peaks of egg whites and lemon zest, it’s like springy freshness all in one delicious pastry.  Whenever I go pick up some veggies from our farmer’s stand, I always save a little room for one of those sponge pies.  When I came across not one, BUT TWO lemon sponge pie recipes, I was ecstatic! Now these recipes do take a bit to figure out, as there aren’t a ton of instructions AND there is a lot of old terminology that I have to google just to know how to prepare them exactly.  Here’s a little old school baking knowledge I’m about to throw down.

This recipe calls for ‘sweet milk.’  Any guesses?  This is what used to be the common name for ‘whole milk’ or ‘regular milk’ to distinguish it from buttermilk.   For baking, all it says is to ‘bake in a slow oven.’  This references the cooking temperature.  Cooking in a ‘slow oven’ is anything in the range of 150–160°C (300–325°F).  Who knew?  Now alas, this didn’t actually have a cooking time, so it took a lot of toothpicks to figure out just exactly how long to bake this bad boy.

Also, props to my husband who is starting to get into this.  He’s learning how to cook and getting baked goods and pies out of it lol. Talk about a win freaking win. Today’s lesson was whipping egg whites to stiff peaks.  His hand modeling is getting better too!  Now he’s learning how to bake and in the process, getting more comfortable in the kitchen.  It always makes me happy when I can help someone enjoy baking.  Without further ado, I give you this weeks recipe.  One of my favorites, Lemon Sponge Pie.


Lemon Sponge Pie

  • 1 unbaked deep dish pie crust (feel free to make your own, I just happen to be lazy about pastry crusts and buy the pre-made ones)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 rounded T flour
  • 2 eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
  • 1.5 cups milk (use something with fat, don’t use skim)
  • 1 T melted butter
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon (I added the zest because all my favorite lemon sponge pies use the zest)

Preheat oven to 325°F.  In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and butter.  Add in flour, milk and yolks.  Mix well.  Zest and juice lemon, add to mixture.  Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Slowly fold egg whites into mixture.  Once smooth, pour carefully into pie crust.  Place in oven for a 1/2 hour at 325°F.  After 1/2 hour turn oven down to 300°F and cook for 1.5-2 hours (or until top has browned and toothpick comes out cleanly).  Now this is important, there shouldn’t be a lot of ‘jiggle’ left with the pie.  A little is okay but the first time I attempted to take this pie out of the oven the top almost rolled right off.  Be careful and don’t take it out before it’s ready. This is definitely a slow cooker and oven times may vary based on pie dish used and how well oven cooks. Let cool completely. Cut and serve. Best kept in fridge. Enjoy!  Until next week.  – Alysha


 Alysha Yoder Photography (b) www.alyshayoderphotoblog.com

(w) www.alyshayoderphoto.com (e) alyshayoderphoto@yahoo.com (p) 610.762.7810


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