Oh, we had been absolutely spent! Days of fighting with interior designer, Billy Haines, over 100-year old hand painted Chinese wall coverings and the specific velvet drapings for our vanity. We had almost completed handwritten notes inviting friends to our new Roland E. Coate designed home, when we ran out of our Mrs. John L. Strong stationery. We had yet to receive our custom made Ferragamo sandals and the recent fitting for the Robert Piguet gown in which to float around from room to room, air kissing our Hollywood friends, did not help us with our most important decision…would we wear a turban or was the over the shoulder draping dramatic enough?
The party was all we could do from falling into a slump. We had just met with executives at MGM to discuss the part of Nora on ‘The Thin Man’ series. W.S. Van Dyke wanted William Powell to play the part of Nick, the glamorous socialite Nora’s husband, and for the couple to have an affectionate banter and friendship style of marriage. We were thrilled to have an opportunity to play opposite William Powell, but in the end, contractual agreements prevented us from taking on the role. We had already been fitted by costume designer Edith Head for a film noir. The part of Nora went to Myrna Loy. The studio system be damned!
The only thing to do was to swing our Figoni et Falaschi Talbot-Lago T150-C by Hollywood and Vine and take our regular table at the Brown Derby.
It was certainly not quiet or peaceful, what one would expect we would need after such harrowing days. But the Brown Derby was home; there was comfort in the food, the service and in being seen in our freshly curled hair. Carole was there with Clark. We never much liked her in a hat. We made sure to confirm attending each other’s party, but do hope she won’t serve us dinner on the floor this time…
Kay Francis was there and oh, was she dressed! We already had some of her Orry-Kelly gowns made.
Dietrich was there, in a veil, distant eyes, with a cigarette working over beef stew. We stopped by to make fun of her for the nightclub number in Blond Venus. She seemed sufficiently shamed for the ape costume and blond afro.
Then we sat down for a Cobb salad. Bob Cobb always made sure to save us a generous piece of orange chiffon cake. Clark and we finished off the last of it. Cary, Myrna and Ava had to settle for the grapefruit cake. Our stomachs full and banter had, we braced ourselves for the next task – unearthing our Globe-Trotter trunks.
The Mister and we are sailing off for the Island of Guidecca for a languorous stay at Casa Frollo. We have sent the recipe for chiffon cake ahead…
Orange Chiffon Cake
From Lost Desserts By Gail Monaghan
For the orange chiffon cake:
2 1/4 cups of cake flour
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
5 large eggs, separated, plus 3 egg whites – at room temperature
1/2 cup of canola oil
3 tablespoons of orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
For the orange icing:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons orange juice
Grated zest of 2 large oranges
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Sift together the flour, superfine sugar, baking powder, and salt onto parchment paper or into a medium size mixing bowl. Then sift again.
In another large glass bowl, vigorously whisk the 5 egg yolks, oil, orange zest, vanilla, and 3/4 cup of water until smooth. About 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the flour mixture and whisk to just combine.
Using the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the 8 egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until very soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar and increase the speed to high. Beat until peaks are stiff but not dry.
Using a rubber spatula, fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the remaining egg whites and fold together until just combined, but completely incorporated. Scrape batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube or angel food cake pan with a removable bottom. Smooth the top and bake in the lower third of the oven; check after 30 minutes, if the cake is browning too quickly, lightly rest a piece of foil over it. Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Remove from oven and cool upside down on built in prongs or a bottle (wine bottle works well) – with the bottle neck through the hole, until completely cool – about 1 1/2 hours.
To unmold, slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan, pressing the knife against the pan to avoid tearing the cake. Use the knife to detach the cake from the center tube: pull the tube upward to remove the cake from the pan side. Slide the knife under the cake to detach it from the bottom. Invert and let the cake drop onto your hand or a serving platter.
For the icing, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and sir in the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, zest and salt. Turn the heat down as low as possible and return the saucepan to the heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and beat (briefly for a pourable glaze or several minutes for a spreadable icing). You can place the sauce pan in a larger pan of ice water to speed the process. Stir in the vanilla and drizzle the glaze over or spread the icing on the cake. Let set before serving.
Images Via Pinterest, Heatherhomemade