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Sunshine Cake: Spring on a platter

Thursday, April 24, 2003

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Just in time for spring -- Sunshine Cake.

Judy McGraw of White Oak recently sent this request: "A bakery in Braddock once sold a cake that they called Sunshine Cake. It was almost like a chiffon (yellow batter) cake with a very fluffy icing." In response, Josephine Bocka of Rankin sent today's recipe.


Josephine worked at Nill's Bakery in Braddock for 17 1/2 years. During that time, one of the bakers gave her a recipe for the popular cake, and since then she's been making it for holidays or just as a treat for her family.

After making this cake, we understand why it's so popular. Not only is it delicious, it makes an attractive presentation. To make this cake even more scrumptious, we added a scoop of ice cream and few sliced strawberries.

Before we ended our phone conversation, Josephine gave us a few tips. "Your eggs should be at room temperature, and always use clean utensils and bowls [even the tiniest bit of fat will prevent the egg whites from foaming]."

Why should you use egg whites at room temperature? We found the answer to this question and other handy egg tips at the American Egg Board's Web site, www.aeb.org. Some recipes call for eggs to be at room temperature before eggs are to be combined with a fat and sugar. Cold eggs could harden the fat, which could cause the batter to curdle. Remove eggs from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before using or put them in a bowl of warm water while assembling other ingredients.

Another tip: After the cake has cooled completely, run a knife around the outer rim of the Bundt pan a few times and then do the same with the center hole. The cake should slide out easily.

And a word on separating eggs: Fat inhibits the foaming of egg whites. Because yolks contain fat, they are often separated from the whites and the whites beaten separately to allow them to reach their fullest volume. Egg whites can be beaten to a greater volume than most other foods, but the air can be lost easily. A stabilizing agent such as cream of tartar is added to the whites to make the foam more stable.

Adding sugar to beaten egg whites helps increase the stability of the foam, but it must be added slowly so it doesn't decrease the volume.

Sunshine Cake

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat again until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks well, adding the remaining 1 cup sugar, cold water and vanilla. Beat until yellow in color, about 3 minutes.

Sift together the flour and baking powder, add to the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture. Pour into an ungreased tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool.

The cake can be frosted with either of the following icings.

Icing no. 1

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 stick ( 1/2 cup) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cook the milk, flour and sugar until thick. Cool to room temperature. Beat in the shortening and margarine and vanilla, continuing beating until peaks form.


  • 1 cup softened shortening
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 to 1 cup ground nuts

Combine all ingredients except nuts and mix. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring if desired. Frost cake and sprinkle with ground nuts.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood/city/borough/township and state and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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