Mandarin Orange Cake

Image 11Drop the hammer….Goldhammer…on this cake.  Once again, I must showcase the amazing Mrs. Goldhammer and her stellar canon of recipes.

When I brought this cake to work, my co-worker said it, ‘tasted like summer’…and she is exactly right.  It is light and sweet with a whipped cream topping dappled with bits of pineapple.  It also is crazy easy to make, so your house isn’t a complete hot box by the time you are done, making a summer day totally bearable.

Amy loves this cake so much, she wanted to marry it.  No, really, she totally did.  Read on…

“I can’t remember when I first had the Mandarin Orange Cake, but I knew that’s what I wanted for our wedding cake. My then fiance, now husband, Sky, ancake1d I decided early on in the wedding planning process that to keep my Jewish mother in check she needed a job. Mom made our amazing wedding cake and what we dubbed our “dessert cave,” a massive spread of Jewish pastries: butterhorns, rugalach, strudels, macaroons, the works. We had 80ish people at the wedding, enough deserts for almost 250 people, and there was barely any left. This Mandarin Orange Cake can be as dressed up or down as desired. It’s held center stage at baby showers, brunches, regular ole’ dinners, nothing fancy’s and of course, weddings.
And the frosting is so good, you’ll have to keep yourself from eating it by the spoonful.” -Amy C.
Image 13With one hand tied behind my back, I dumped the yellow cake mix, oil, eggs, and a can of mandarin oranges with the syrup into the mixer bowl.  I turned it up to medium and prepped my two 9-inch pans.
Taking parchment paper, press into the bottom of each pan and cut out the circles made from the impression.  Spray the inside of the pans with PAM spray and place the paper circles in the bottom of each pan.
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Once the batter was sufficiently whipped up, I split in up between the two pans, knocked them on the counter a couple of times to bring up any air bubbles and place them in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.
This sucker smells like vanilla cupcake heaven and it took every bit of strength I have not to eat it straight out of the oven.  My whole house smelled of tImage 1his home-baked deliciousness and I am convinced that this would be the kind of thing that realtors would use to sell a house.
Make sure that a toothpick comes out clean and let the cakes cool for 10 minutes before you carefully dump out onto a cooling rack.  Slowly pull the parchment paper from the cake and let cake continue to cool.
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Once the cake has cooled, slice them in half, from side to side, as evenly as you can, so you end up with 4 thin cake layers.
And on to the whipped topping.  I do believe I have never used Cool Whip before.  I have nothing against it, I just never even considered it.  This is why I had to wait 5 hours before frosting my cake.  I didn’t know that I needed to put the frozen Cool Whip in the fridge to defrost for hours before use.  Experienced users may scoff at me, but this did give me ample time to do my laundry, clean out the litter box and watch some decadent BBC mini-series programming.
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Take 15 oz. of crushed pineapple and juice and mix in a large bowl with the pudding mix.  I chose ‘cheesecake’ flavor.  It was a good decision.  Once blended and all the powder absorbed, I folded in the thawed Cool Whip.  It was freakin’ amazing.  I’m totally sold.  Amy was right, I just wanted to take a giant serving spoon and fill my face with the stuff.
Place the first layer on your serving plate and slide pieces of waxed paper underneath the edge all the way around the cake.  When you are all done frosting, just pull away the paper and you are left with a clean surface all around the cake.  Put a couple ofImage 5 large dollops of the topping in the middle of the first layer and spread out gently to just before the edge of the cake.  There should be enough frosting that when you place the next layer down, the topping squishes out to the edge.  Continue this with every layer until you place the top.
Take a spatula and gently spread topping all around the sides of the cake to fill in any gaps.  Once filled in, add more topping and spread with swoops and swirls of your spatula.  Scoop the rest of the frosting on top and spread Image 8evenly.  Get swirly and make it your own personal piece of art!  Pull the paper out from under the sides of the cake and voila! you have a beautifully frosted cake.  Cover and place in refrigerator for a few hours so that the topping can cool and set.
This cake is light and refreshing and above all…surprising.  You just don’t expect a mandarin orange cake to come jumping out of a cake box.  And for me, there is nothing better than whipped cream frosting…except, maybe, whipped cream mixed with pineapple.
Do I love it?  Yes.  Will I marry it?  Wouldn’t you?

Mandarin Orange Cake

  • Prep time:
  • Cook time:
  • Total time:
  • Yield: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Recipe type: Dessert


  • CAKE:
  • 1 box Pillsbury Yellow cake mix
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (11-oz) can Mandarin oranges ( Do Not Drain)
  • 1 (8-oz) carton Cool Whip, (thawed) – Lite or Regular
  • 1 small pkg. Vanilla or Cheesecake instant pudding  (Regular or Sugar-Free)
  • 1 (15-oz) can crushed pineapple ( Do Not Drain)


  1. CAKE:
  2. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.  
  3. Prepare two 9-inch round baking pans. Cut out circles of wax paper or parchment paper to line bottoms of pans. Prepare pans by spraying with PAM, then lining bottom with paper.  
  4. Mix cake mix, eggs, oil and mandarin oranges in electric mixer 4 minutes on medium speed.  
  5. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 25-30 minutes until cake tests done with toothpick in center.  
  6. Cool 10 minutes in pan then turnout on cooling racks, gently remove paper and cool completely.   
  7. FROSTING: (By hand only – no electric mixer!)
  8. Combine crushed pineapple and dry pudding mix. Mix together to dissolve pudding mix.  
  9. Gently fold Cool Whip into pineapple mixture.
  10. Carefully cut each layer in half to form 4 cake layers.  (Dental Floss works great!)  
  11. Frost each layer then top & sides of 4-layer cake.
  12. Refrigerate for frosting to set.   Enjoy!
  13. *Cake can also be made in one large rectangle pan instead of layers. Also, cake can be doubled when batter is prepared, using four 9 or 10-inch round pans, or two large rectangle pans. Also good as cupcakes (with no layers).

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Comments: 6

  1. Jannell June 24, 2014 at 7:36 am

    I am totally drooling right now!!

  2. Amy June 24, 2014 at 9:56 am

    This cake is awesome! SO good. Holly, you nailed it!

  3. Barbara Goldhammer June 24, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Holly,
    You amaze me! I am so honored to be in your blog once again! Thought it couldn’t get any better than my Chicken Pot Pie recipe! Yum…Chicken Pot Pies and Mandarin Orange Cake for dessert! Add a glass of sparkling wine and I’m in heaven!

  4. Sylvia Crawford June 24, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Hello Holly,
    Yes! Barbara Goldhammer is a fantastic cook! Among the best! I was one of the guests at the wedding (described by Amy) where we all visited the dessert cave repeatedly! I’ve never had better desserts than those at that wonderful event.
    From a fan of Mrs. Goldhammer,
    Sylvia C
    P.S. In all fairness, I must admit my bias: Barbara Goldhammer and I are machetuneyste (I’m just hoping that the Yiddish I “googled” here is correct . . . or maybe it should be machetunim?). Yes, this cake rocks my rolls! Hooray! Thanks Holly for featuring the “best of the best.”

  5. Lisa June 25, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I can’t believe this cake is so easy to make! I was sure you slaved for hours to make this thing. It was so yummy!

  6. Kelsey August 18, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Another ‘Extra Crispy One’ home run! Thanks Holly!