Pig Pickin Cake

One of the first cakes I ever made as a young woman was a Pig Pickin Cake. I'm guessing it was called that because it showed up so often at Pig Pickins. If you don't know what a Pig Pickin is well...its when a whole split pig is roasted outdoors on an open pit, enclosed grill, or something converted into an enclosed grill. Then the pork is picked or pulled from the bones to serve with some of the most amazing barbecue sauces you will ever eat. It takes hours and is usually accompanied by lots of southern side dishes like potato salad, slaw, baked beans, hush puppies, banana pudding and perhaps Pig Pickin Cake.
Pig Cooker

Its usually part of a celebration or family get-together. A small town about 10 minutes from where I live has an annual Pig Pickin Contest complete with games, bands, and of course a contest for the best tasting barbecued pig.

This cake is often called Mandarin Orange Cake but that name is a bit misleading as it doesn't really have a real orangy taste. If you want more orange flavor you can add 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract to the batter or substitute orange juice for the canned juices.

There are many versions of this simple cake. It can be made in 2, 3, or even 4 layers. You will want to make a few adjustments if you want to do a sheet cake. Look at the end of this post for instructions. I have also seen this cake with frosting between the layers and on top but none on the sides.

You may want to set aside a few orange segments for decorating. In fact another name for this cake is Sunshine Cake because it was often decorated with 5 orange segments in a sun design.

One more thing about this cake...it tastes much better after it has been in the fridge for several hours or even overnight! This is a good cake to make the day before because it really will taste better the next day.

My original recipe is long gone but I found this one on deepsouthdish.com. I think its  just like the one I had.

So lets get busy and make a mighty good cake!

Assemble your ingredients.

Combine cake mix, eggs, and oil.

Add the mandarin oranges with the liquid.
Save a few if you want to use them for garnish.

Look at those orange bits.

Pour into greased and floured pans and bake. Let cool.

I only had 2 8" cake pans, so I improvised! lol
Fill between layers. I like to put in refrigerator for a bit at this point
to keep the frosting from getting too warm.

 I had to move my cake to another plate here because my footed cake plate was too tall for the refrigerator. Anyone remember these plates? From the late 60's I think.


For the cake:
  • 1 box of butter style yellow cake mix
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 (11 or 15 ounce) can of mandarin oranges, undrained
For the frosting:
  • 1 (5.1 ounce) package of instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 (20 ounce) can of crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 (16 ounce) carton of whipped topping (like Cool Whip)
  • Sprig of fresh mint, for garnish, optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8 inch cake pans and flour or line with parchment paper; set aside.

Add the cake mix, oil and eggs to the bowl of a mixer and mix on low until blended. Reserve a couple of the oranges for garnish if desired. Add the remaining oranges with their juice, blend in on low then mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Divide evenly into the three prepared cake pans and bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes back clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cake rack to cool completely.

Blend together the instant pudding and crushed pineapple; set aside for 5 minutes. Gently fold in the whipped topping and spread in between the layers, and frosting the sides and top of the cake. Garnish the top with a sprig of mint and the reserved orange segments, if desired. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

My Notes:

  1. Any butter style yellow cake mix is fine. I think the old reciepes called for Duncan hines.
  2. Make sure you use instant pudding and not the cook and serve variety.
  3. I think the full 16-ounce Cool Whip is too much and don't use it all.
  4. To prepare in a 9 x 13 inch pan, increase eggs to 4, use 2 cans of mandarin oranges, draining one, and use an 8 ounce whipped topping, 3.5 ounce vanilla pudding package and about a 15 ounce or slightly smaller, crushed pineapple for the topping. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. If you want to garnish the cake with lots of orange segments, use a second can of mandarin oranges but drain off the juice.

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