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+ servings
slice of pig pickin-cake with mandarin orange garnish.

Pig Pickin' Cake

This cake is an authentic southern dessert that shows up on tables at communal gatherings, barbecues, and picnics. Traditionally the sweet mandarin orange cake starts with a box of yellow cake mix, but this one is made from scratch and finished with homemade whipped topping sweetened with pineapple.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 16 people


Cake Ingredients

  • cups cake flour not self-rising
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt fine
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest grated from 2 oranges
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 can mandarin oranges in light syrup 11 ounce can or 312 g

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 4 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple or one 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix optional

Optional Garnish Ingredients

  • 1 can mandarin oranges in light syrup drained, 11 ounce can or 312 g
  • ½ cup pineapple tidbits drained
  • ½ cup sweetened coconut flakes toasted


Bake the Cake

  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment and butter it as well. Lightly dust the pans with flour, tapping the pans on the counter to shake out the excess.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Set aside. In a large measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter, sugar, and orange zest together on medium high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. On low speed, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour, mixing until just combined.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer stand (if using) and, using the rubber spatula, incorporate any ingredients hiding at the bottom of the bowl, making sure the batter is completely mixed. Fold in one can (312 g) of the mandarin oranges, with their juice.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and gently smooth the tops with a spatula. Tap the pans firmly on the counter to remove any air bubbles from the batter.
  • Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cake, comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, remove from the pans, peel off the parchment, and let cool completely on the rack.

Make the Frosting

  • In a small saucepan, whisk together the gelatin and water and let stand for about 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  • Place the saucepan over low heat and heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes, but do not let stand until the gelatin starts to set; it still needs to be pourable.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), beat the cream on low speed, gradually increasing the speed to medium as it thickens slightly. Beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the gelatin mixture and beat until the topping has reached stiff peaks, about 2 minutes; scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.
  • Fold in the pineapple and instant vanilla pudding mix, if using. Cover and refrigerate until ready to frost the cake.

Assemble the Cake

  • Level the top of one of the layers with a serrated knife so it is flat. Place it cut side down on a serving plate (you can keep the edges of the plate clean by sliding strips of parchment under the cake while you frost it). Using an offset spatula or a butter knife, spread a large dollop of the whipped topping over the top of the layer. Place the second cake layer on top, right side up, and frost the top and sides with the remaining whipped topping.
  • Drain the remaining can (312 g) of mandarin oranges and decorate the top of the cake with orange slices, pineapple, and coconut (if desired). Refrigerate until ready to serve. The cake can be stored, loosely covered, In the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Heather's Helpful Hints

  • Pan Sizes: You can bake this cake in two 9-inch round pans, or one 9x13-inch rectangular pan. For one 9x13-inch rectangular pan, cook for 35-45 minutes. 
  • Pineapple: When using fresh pineapple, use a food processor to pulse larger chunks. Make sure you fully drain the pineapple before adding it to the frosting. You can reserve the juice for a delicious drink!
  • Storage: Chill the cake before serving it at your BBQ. It actually works great to refrigerate the cake overnight, giving it time to firm up. It also makes slicing easier!
  • Whipped Topping: you can substitute Cool Whip for homemade whipped topping if you want in this recipe. Make sure you defrost the Cool Whip before adding the pineapple. 
  • Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix: You can use vanilla pudding mix in this recipe, but it's not required. I like the subtle flavor it adds to the topping. 


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 175mg | Potassium: 185mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 1069IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 1mg
This recipe was found on My Sweet Precision. Thank you for visiting!