Zesty flavours

Orange cake made from Rose Seidler's recipe. Photo Gary Crockett © Sydney Living Museums

Rose Seidler’s recipes reflect a penchant for citrus flavours – from marmalade to cakes and desserts. There are three different orange cake recipes – one of them appearing twice: typed in German and also jotted down in English at the very front of Rose’s ‘sweet’ dishes book, suggesting she liked it to be easily accessible when required. The handwritten version does not include the method, just the ingredients, so presumably she new the making process so well, that instructions were superfluous.

Afternoon tea spread for ‘Eat your history at Rose Seidler House’. Photo Jacqui Newling © Sydney Living Museums

Home grown

Rose was an avid gardener and took great pleasure in producing home grown vegetables and fruit. The ares that now serves as car-park to the Rose Seidler House museum was a flourishing kitchen garden, and there were a variety of fruit trees, including orange, lemon, grapefruit and mandarin, planted in the garden adjacent to the house. Friends who visited Rose and Max at home were often depart with fresh pickings of whatever was in season.

Orange cake ‘recipe’ recorded by Rose Seidler © Sydney Living Museums

A wee dram…

We included the larger cake in a recent ‘Eat your history’ afternoon tea at Rose Seidler House – it’s easy to make and rather delicious. The whisky is an interesting addition, but sadly undetectable on my palate, so you could substitute it with juice squeezed from the orange. You could ice the cake if you wish, or serve it with whipped cream, but it’s still very nice ‘as is’. As you can see in the photo above we served it with lemon curd, which was the prefect way to use the yolks left over from the macaroons also made from one of Rose’s handwritten recipes.

Rose Seidler’s Orange cake (with whisky)


  • 225g butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons whisky
  • 340g self-raising flour
  • 170g plain flour
  • Zest of one orange, grated
  • Zest of one lemon, grated


Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan forced. Grease and line a 25cm cake tin.

Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar until pale and light. Whisk the eggs into the milk, stir in the vanilla and whisky then add to the butter mixture. Beat until combined, scraping in any butter mixture from the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Combine the sifted flours and mix in the zest. Using a large spoon, gently fold the flour mixture into the batter until fully incorporated. The batter will be fairly thick. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin, smoothing it into the edges of the tin.

Bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a cake rack. Do not slice until the cake has cooled completely. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a cake rack. Do not slice until the cake has cooled completely, or store in an airtight container for up to three days.