Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Watts Tea Room Filled Sunshine Cake

Good morning! Did you have a nice weekend? We had a horrible rainstorm storm on Friday, thankfully no flooding or damage, and a bright and sunny Saturday and Sunday.

 I did not do any baking this weekend but I did want to share a recipe for a delicious cake that I made for my mom while she was here. It is called "Sunshine Cake" and it is her favorites cake in the world. The recipe is over 100 years old and was served at Watt's tea room in Milwaukee. We celebrated many happy occasions there from the time I was a child until until just recently. Sadly the tea room closed its doors for good in December 2016. 

Luckily the chefs were very generous with their recipes and I found this one in the Milwaukee Journal. I will warn you that this cake is a little time consuming but it is worth the effort. The cake is light and airy and has a similar texture to angle food cake and the frosting is similar to 7 minute frosting but it stays soft and fluffy even after a few days. The filling is unusual and I have never made another like it, its like pudding whipped with butter, but it is what makes the cake memorable and special. 

Watts Tea Room Filled Sunshine Cake
Makes 8 to 10 servings

9 eggs, separated
¼ cup water
1 cup sugar (divided)
1 cup cake flour (sifted three times)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
French custard filling (see recipe)
Boiled frosting (see recipe)
Grated rind of 2 large oranges for garnish
To make cake, in large bowl, combine egg yolks, water and ½ cup of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour gradually, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large metal bowl, whip egg whites with cream of tartar and salt until whites are stiff. Add remaining ½ cup sugar and beat just until peaks begin to form. Fold into batter.
Pour batter into ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes or until light brown. When done, remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare French custard filling and boiled frosting.
To assemble, carefully cut cooled cake into three layers. Fill between layers with French custard, then frost top and side with boiled frosting. Grate orange rind over top of cake.

French custard filling:

4 egg yolks, beaten
¾ cup sifted powdered sugar
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
In top of double boiler, combine egg yolks, powdered sugar and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats back of spoon. This should take 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Add vanilla.
In medium bowl, cream butter thoroughly. Slowly add cooled custard mixture to butter, beating well.

Boiled Frosting:
1 1/3 cups sugar
½ cup water
Pinch of salt
3 egg whites (from pasteurized eggs)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine sugar and water in saucepan and boil just until syrup spins a thread (220 degrees on a candy thermometer).
Add salt to egg whites in a bowl. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. (It will take longer to whip the whites of pasteurized eggs than those of regular eggs.)
Very slowly drizzle hot sugar syrup into beaten egg whites with electric mixer going at medium speed. Beat constantly until frosting stands in stiff peaks and is of spreading consistency. Add vanilla and beat well.

Have a great day!


  1. Never mind the filling (as good as it most certainly is)! That frosting looks like just the right kind of light and fluffy. I really have to get a candy thermometer.

  2. I love items and recipes with history. This amazing cake is one I am definitely going to try for a special occasion. Thank you for generously sharing the recipe.

  3. Oh my, this sounds delicious and it's so beautiful too! We have been dieting so I haven't baked in 3 months. Can't wait for Easter so I can get my apron on. :)

  4. Oh how lovely is this, especially since the recipe comes from a time and place special to both you and your mom. It sounds AMAZING!!!!! And I thought of you as I listened to the news yesterday about the weather. Goodness my friend, I pray you are safe!

  5. Seeing that frosting made my mouth water!

  6. SO, sad places CLOSE after years of being in operation!


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