Mandarin Dream Cake – A Recipe from the Heart of the South
When I think of spring, Easter, barbecues, picnics, really, any outdoor celebration, I think of this Mandarin Dream Cake. It has a fresh, bright flavor from mandarin oranges and pineapple, and the fluffy, cloud like frosting, is both light and creamy. Altogether, this cake is a Divalicious dream.
A dear friend of mine from the South shared the original recipe with me a number of years ago. It feels very Southern to me – rooted in hospitality and family. The recipe didn’t come with a name. I intuitively titled it Angela’s Mandarin Dream Cake. Only to discover many years later that the official name for the cake was in fact, Mandarin Orange Dream Cake. Makes perfect sense. It’s not that I’m so clever, it’s that the cake is made with Mandarin oranges and it really is a dream.
The original recipe called for Kraft Cool Whip Whipped Topping and Duncan Hines® Butter Golden Cake Mix. I prefer the more natural taste and consistency of real whipping cream. And while using a boxed cake mix makes preparing the Mandarin Dream Cake extra easy and dreamy, here again, I break slightly with tradition and use the new Pillsbury™ Purely Simple™ white cake mix and add extra vanilla for good measure and great taste. Really, just about any vanilla, boxed mix will do. And while this cake in no way falls under the category of “healthy” (though I for one consider any feel good, tasty food, in some moderation, very good for the soul indeed) you can also avoid a bit of processed sugar by opting for canned fruits packed in natural juice, like Dole Crushed Pineapple in 100% Pineapple Juice. Most supermarket private label brands also come in this variety and are usually less expensive.
The recipe can be made as a two or three layer cake. I love the look and cake to filling ratio of three layers. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time for a three layer cake and do not over bake it. The Mandarin Dream Cake is extra moist from the fruit and juice in the recipe and you want to preserve that juicy sweet moistness.
As I do with most of my cake recipes, I prepare pans with parchment paper to prevent over browning and sticking. So, as a bonus, I’m including a link to my easy, step by step guide to cutting cake pan liners. Yes. I take the business of baking seriously and so cutting cake pan liners gets its own post (I’m giggling too.)
Whatever ingredients you chose to use when you make this recipe, just make this recipe! It’s really one of my favorites. The Mandarin Dream Cake is what I’d call a special occasion cake. But special occasions are not in short supply. Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations from kindergarten to college, Sunday dinner, little league championships, you name it – make this Mandarin Dream Cake and make any day special!
Mandarin Dream Cake Ingredients
- 1 Box Vanilla Cake Mix*
- 4 Eggs
- 1 (11 oz.) Can Mandarin Oranges, Do Not Drain (reserve a few segments to decorate the cake with)
- ¾ C. Vegetable Oil
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients together and divide evenly into two or three, 8″ or 9” round, cake pans, buttered and prepared with Parchment Cake Pan Liners. Bake for 18 – 23 minutes depending on the size of your pans and the number of layers you make. Let baked cake rest in pan for 5 – 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely before frosting.
*If using a white cake mix, add 2 – 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
- 1 (20 oz.) Can Crushed Pineapple, Do Not Drain
- 1 (6 Serving) Box Instant Vanilla Pudding, Not Cook N Serve
- 1 Pint Extra Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 Tablespoon Powdered Sugar
Using an electric hand or stand mixer, beat the cream until stiff, adding the powdered sugar in at the soft peak stage. Separately, by hand, beat pineapple and vanilla pudding together until well combined and allow this mixture to stand for 5 minutes. Gently but thoroughly, fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream. Frost the cake and refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight if you’d like to make the cake a day in advance) to let the frosting set. Let the cake come to room temperature (for 1 – 2 hours) before serving.