Q: For many years, I used a recipe for Lynn Fontanne’s Sunday Cake. I’ve lost it, and all I remember is that after baking in a cast-iron skillet, I would pour orange juice on top and then some powdered sugar. I clipped this from a newspaper or magazine long ago.
Thelma Rae Woods
A: I did not find a recipe for a Lynn Fontanne Sunday Cake, but I did find one from her husband and performing partner, Alfred Lunt. They were the premiere couple on the English-speaking stage from the 1920s to their retirement in the 1960s. Lunt was also known for his gourmet cooking.
I found the recipe by contacting the Ten Chimneys Foundation, which preserved and maintains the Lunts’ Ten Chimneys estate in southeastern Wisconsin. Courtney Kihslinger provided the recipe. Lunt’s manuscript for a cookbook was found in a closet when the estate was being set up for tours and acting workshops. The 192 recipes are compiled in The Testers Edition of Alfred Lunt's Cookbook: The Never-Before-Published, Much-Sought-After Recipe Collection of Broadway's Greatest Actor, Alfred Lunt ($34.99), available at tenchimneys.org and Amazon.
As to the cake, in his handwritten notes, Lunt writes: “It may be imagination, but the texture of this cake always seems best when made on a hot day or in an overheated kitchen, and hand-beaten with a rotary beater and wooden spoon. It’s much like an old-fashioned English Madeira cake and quite as delicious. It is good without frosting; dust with powdered sugar.”
The recipe here is one I interpreted from the recipe in the book, which is incomplete. I also added the orange juice variation the reader requested. This makes a wonderful plain cake, with an airy texture and crispy top that is lovely topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream or ice cream. I would increase the vanilla to a full teaspoon and, to make it more like a Madeira, add grated lemon zest. No salt was called for in Lunt’s recipe, but I think it is necessary.
The Florida Department of Citrus teamed up with Food Network host Aarti Sequeira to come up with new ways to use grapefruit. Sequeira created the kale salad here, and is unveiling a new recipe a week through March 18 at facebook.com/floridagrapefruit.
Q: Spaghetti Works & Deli of Longview, Wash., was known for its home-style cooking. The restaurant founder, Dolores Rasmussen, could always be found in the kitchen overseeing things. I miss their cream of broccoli soup, freshly made rolls and breadsticks. Could you obtain the recipes?
Becky Holborn , Castle Rock, Wash.
A: Perhaps someone can help us find the original recipes. In the meantime, let me share a favorite cream of broccoli soup recipe that appeared in my column about 25 years ago and came from the Holiday Inn in Ozark, Ala. Browning the roux adds a nice nuttiness. I like to add a few chopped broccoli florets as garnish.
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