I know. The name of this cake is pretty awful. I’ve baked it up numerous times over the years and every time I look at the recipe, I cringe at the name. I don’t know who came up with the name, or the recipe, but I have seen it in countless Southern cookbooks over the years. I figured that the reason it’s called a Pig Pickin’ Cake is because it’s so good that it’s easy to look like a pig as you are “picking” at the cake. However, thanks to the power of Google (Seriously, what did we do before search engines? I swear, I Google something at least ten times a day.), I found that the name of the cake comes from the Southern tradition of serving it for dessert at pig roasts, or “Pig Pickins”. Now that I have a legitimate reason for the (still kind of awful) name of the cake, and I no longer look at it as an insult, I feel I can pass it on to you!
My husband’s birthday was this week and he’s requested this as his birthday cake more times than I can count. It’s an easy cake to put together and, when all is said and done, it’s a very light dessert. I’m not speaking “light” in the caloric sense, although you could use reduced fat Cool Whip in the frosting to soften the punch to the gut, I’m talking texture. It’s light and airy, flavorful and delicious.
I start by mixing together a boxed yellow cake mix, some eggs, oil and a can of Mandarin oranges, along with their juice.
Usually, I’ll get out my stand mixer when I’m mixing up a cake, but with this recipe I always hand stir it. My mixer would beat the heck out of those little oranges, and I want to keep them as close to whole (or at least in large chunks) as I can.
Once the batter is ready, I divide it into three 8 inch cake pans. This time, I greased and floured the pans, and as soon as I’d poured in the batter, I remembered that the last time I made this cake, it stuck quite a bit despite the pan prep. If you have it, I suggest greasing the pan and then cutting circles out of parchment paper to place in the bottom of the pan, before greasing again and pouring in the batter.
You’ll only use about 1 1/3 cup of the batter in each pan. The layers aren’t too thick.
Once the cakes have baked for about 15 minutes, they need to come out of the oven and cool completely before you frost them. Be careful releasing them from the pans.
As you can see, the top cake layer stuck in the pan just a bit. This is why I suggest using the parchment! In the end, it’s OK if the cakes aren’t perfect because they get covered up by the whipped cream frosting.
It doesn’t take too long for the cakes to cool, since they’re so thin, so I make a quick frosting by mixing some vanilla pudding mix in with some drained, crushed pineapple. Once that’s combined, I fold it into some Cool Whip.
Then, it’s time to frost up the cake!
Whenever I frost a cake, I always place the edges of the cake on waxed paper. That way, after I’ve frosted the cake (and most likely, slopped some frosting on the cake plate) I can just pull the waxed paper out from under the cake and it leaves a clean line behind.
Once the cake is frosted, it needs to be covered and kept in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it up!
We had a nice little family birthday party for my husband and finishing off the day with a slice of one of our favorite cakes made it even more special. As an added bonus, it keeps well in the fridge for a few days, so we have some time to finish the leftovers. We didn’t look like pigs!
Happy Birthday, Aaron!
PIG PICKIN’ CAKE
Adapted from Paula Deen (and numerous other fine Southern cooks)
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 (11 oz.) can Mandarin oranges with juice (do not drain the juice!)
- 4 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 (16 0z.) can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding mix
- 2 (8 oz.) containers Cool Whip, thawed
- Preheat the oven to 350*. Grease and flour (and line with parchment, if you can!) three 8-inch cake pans.
- Mix together the cake mix, eggs, oil and oranges, along with their juice. Divide the batter among the cake pans, using about 1⅓ cup of the mixture in each. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester poked in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool the layers in the pans for 5 minutes and then turn them out on a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the frosting, stir together the drained pineapple and the pudding mix. Once combined, fold the pineapple mixture into the Cool Whip. Frost each cake layer and then the sides of the cake. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.