Friday, June 24, 2011

Pea Pickin' Cake

Last month was my Mom's birthday. She was so excited because this was a big birthday for her. 
Not in terms of how much older she was getting but in terms of living past an important number in her family.

Both of my Momma's parents died before their 60th birthdays. 
So it was a huge milestone for my Mom to make it to 60 years old.
 It is an age that she is very proud of and happy to reach. 
You gotta be thankful for each year that the Good Lord gives you, right? 
(My Momma's parents, Dorothy & Herman Harris)

I do my best not to moan each passing year. Yes, every year, my Mom and I have more lines
 on our faces and gray hairs on our head. But we also have another year together and to be thankful.

For her birthday, my Mom wanted a dessert she had not had since childhood, Pea Pickin' Cake. 
Her mother used to make it, but sadly she did not have her Momma's recipe.

So, my Mom and I went scouring for a recipe that sounded like what she remembered.

This cake goes by so many names; Pig Cake, Pig Pickin' Cake, Pig Lickin' Cake, Mandarin Orange Cake, Sunshine Cake. 
I even heard someone call it Aloha Cake, etc., etc. - you get the idea.  
The flavors are basically the same but with small variations here and there. 

This really is an amazing cake for the summer. 
The flavors are bright and fresh and the whipped cream topping gives it a light taste.  
It needs to be stored in the fridge because of the whipped topping, which makes it even more 
delightful after coming in from a hot day!
For the cake:
1 box (18.25 Oz. Box) Yellow Cake Mix
1 stick Margarine (softened)
1 can (14 Oz.) Mandarin Oranges, Drained, 1/2 Cup Juice Reserved
4 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

For the topping:
1 box(4 Oz.) Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
1 can (20 Oz. Can) Crushed Pineapple, Juice Reserved
½ cup Powdered Sugar
4 ounces Cool Whip (half a regular tub)
Extra Mandarin Orange Slices, For Garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
For the cake, combine cake mix, margarine, 1/2 cup juice from the mandarin oranges, eggs, and vanilla. 
Beat for four minutes on medium-high. 
Add drained oranges and beat again until pieces are broken up and small. Pour batter into greased and floured 9 x 13 inch baking pan or 2-8 inch round pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes for 9X13 pan or 17-21 minutes for 8 inch pans. 
Basically you want the cake to be lightly golden brown and set. 
Remove from oven and cool completely. 
Once cake is cool, blend juice from drained pineapples with the vanilla pudding mix. 
Add powdered sugar and mix, then mix in whipped topping. 
Stir in drained pineapple. 
Spread on cooled cake (or layers if making a round cake) and refrigerate several hours.

Cook's Note: I made these into cupcakes for my Mom's birthday and topped each cupcake with a mandarin orange. Also, you can cut this into squares (if using a 13x9 inch pan) and top each square with a mandarin orange segment.

Happy Birthday Mom!


  1. It makes sense that this cake also goes by the name "pig pickin' cake" since it would be a perfect dessert for a pig roast. I love that it's so easy to make!

    Happy Birthday to your Mom!

  2. Dear Rae, what a great story and recipe. Thanks for sharing it. I look forward to making it for my family/friends.

  3. I've heard such fabulous things about this may be on my menu this, shocking as this may seem, we're running low on dessert!!! Happy birthday to your sweet mom, Brandie...and thanks again for allowing me to share one of my recipes with all your friends and fans. It was great fun (and you have the NICEST followers...truly :)). xoxo

  4. Happy birthday to your mom, great story. This cake looks very fluffy and tasty. Since it has so many names-it must be delicious. The idea of individual servings makes this recipe even better. Thanks for sharing

  5. Yup, this recipe is a classic!! Our family calls it Pig Pickin' Cake. Happy, happy birthday to your Mom! Oh, and I made your strawberry bread ... divine.

  6. I love this cake, whatever you call it! My mom didn't make this one, but I always looked for it at church when we had covered dish dinners. Happy Birthday to your mom!! :)

  7. Happy Birthday to your mama! This cake sounds delicious and perfect for these summer days. So bright and cheery. Yummy!

  8. Im going to attempt this for dessert tonight sounds very refreshing.....Happiest of Birthdays to your Mom may all her Birthday Wishes come true this year!!!

  9. We call it Mandarin Orange Cake and no matter what it's called... it is GOOOOOD! Even for breakfast!!!!! Well, I wouldn't know, I'm just speculating. lol :)

  10. Ok fine! I know it's good for breakfast from experience. Confession is good for the soul, right? Oranges are healthy, and cool whip is like having milk and butter is a good fat....oh never mind.

  11. I combined this with a jello poke cake and dubbed it Pig Pickin' Poke Cake, lol!

  12. Enjoyed hearing your memories...and the cake sounds wonderful. Happy Birthday to your Mom!

  13. You gals are just the sweetest folks in the world. Thank you for the birthday wishes for my Momma. She reads this blog (she better!) so I know she is loving all your well-wishes!
    Tonya - you crack me up!
    Siggy, love that idea!!!

  14. Happy birthday to your mom. 60 is very young. I love the cake, It is called by all the names everyone mentioned. It really is good.

  15. Happy Birthday Brandi's Mom! :)

    This cake sounds really good! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  16. Brandi, This is such a great post and I enjoyed reading it so much. This cake looks wonderful and I hope your Mom has a wonderful birthday. I can tell by your post how close you and your Mom are and I love that about you. My girls and I have so much fun together, too. Have a great weekend and thanks for sharing your Mom and your recipe with us today.

  17. Happy Birthday to your mom. My mama's birthday was yesterday. This is the second birthday since her passing and I sure miss her! She would have been 69. Cancer took her home too early. Anyway, don't mean to be a party pooper! Glad you still have your mom and glad y'all got to celebrate together! :)

  18. Aw, so sweet! My friend has made this in a 9x13 pan but it looks really pretty as a two layer cake!

  19. I have definitely been living under a rock since I never heard about this cake :((
    Sounds so great for summer, with those mandarins.

    Happy birthday to your mother Brandie and thanks for sharing this amazing cake :)

  20. Happy Birthday to your mom! Enjoy! Cake looks amazing. Yummy! I'll have to try this. Thanks.

  21. Oh my gosh, I just found your blog through a linky party. Every single recipe on your side bar is mouthwatering! I LOVE this cake - except I call it "Pig Pickin Cake". I have only ever done it as a sheet cake. I love the idea of making it a layer cake. I will have to try that next. I am a new follower - I LOVE your blog. Check out mine if you're interested.

  22. Happy Birthday to your Moma. Nice to make a easy cake and be enjoyable. Sounds wonderful. Have a great week Andi

  23. God bless your Mama and enjoy her as long as you can. She raised a smart girl, didn't she?

  24. Happy bday to your mom - the cake looks delicious

  25. Happy B-day to your mom..your cake look amazing..and I love all the names..I cant say that I ever heard of it but I have to try..looks like my kind of cake..

  26. SO SWEET! Happy (lil late) Birthday to your Mom!!

    You HAVE to see what I had for my birthday a few months back! *wink*

  27. Happy Birthday to you wonderful mother...I would be so pleased to have this cake for my next birthday.

  28. What a wonderful post. This recipe looks so fantastic. I cannot wait to try this out.

  29. Happy belated birthday to your mom and this cake is delicious!! gloria

  30. I hope Mom had a wonderful and blessed birthday. How about I tell you when my birthday is and you make this cake for me. I can't imagine that I could do it any better.

  31. This is an absolutely fabulous cake recipe! My mom made this every year for my birthday. I missed it this year since we couldn't be together. I guess I'm going to have to make it myself. Hope your mom had a fantastic birthday! Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

  32. This cake is so good and perfect for summertime!! I've tried it at a locally favorite bakery and loved it. I'm so glad that you shared the recipe with me now so that I can make it! :) Thanks!

  33. A happy belated birthday to your mother...I, too, have seen this cake called by all the different names you mentioned. The recipe was posted in my local newspaper several years ago. According to the article, TV journalist, Connie Chung, went to Atlanta, GA to interview the parents of Newt Gingrich. Newt's father made this cake and served it to Connie Chung. I have made this cake so many times and it is always well loved by everyone that eats it. I make it for one of my stepsons every time he visits. He could eat the whole cake by himself if I'd let him. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I'll have to try your version with the powdered sugar added... :)

  34. Finally, finally, FINALLY got a chance to make this cake and is DELICIOUS!!! I especially love the icing with its little chunks of pineapple. I made the 2-layer version and garnished around the edge with mandarin oranges which made it seem extra special to the kids.

  35. My family loves this cake! We are from southwest fl and this cake has been a staple at many a birthdays, family gatherings and on those just because days! My * year old loves it so much that since she's been in school that's what she has asked for on her birthdays for school. Needless to say all her classmates now ask for the pea cake.. We only have one difference in our recipe from yours and that is that we don't add powdered sugar to the frosting because it already a pretty sweet one on its own without..Love your blog! All your recipes remind me of my Gran!!!

  36. I have to try this one. Sounds like the type of cake that southern women would have baked. I've got a really old recipe that my mother-in-law in South Carolina gave me that is fantastic and I hope I never lose that recipe because it will make a pineapple cake with seven minute sticky frosting or a pound cake.

  37. Brandie, this cake is just like the one our favorite restaurant serves. Shonda, the lady that bakes the cake told me what was in it and then I found this recipe, which is exactly like it with the exception that she puts all of the juice from the mandarin oranges in the batter. I made it on Saturday and put the whole can in as well. My husband is a retired Marine and has a good appetite but I have to say that in the 34 yrs. that I have been married, this is without a doubt the best cake I have ever made. My husband just loved it and so did I. I gave my younger sister the recipe on Sunday when I went to her son's ceremony for obtaining Eagle Scout.

    I have also given your website to my daughter and my daughter-in-law. They will be making it as well.

    Thanks and I am thrilled to have found your blog.

  38. Can't wait to make this.
    Whenever we would come to the USA from Salzburg, Austria, my Aunt Merlin would make this cake (Arkansas) just haven't been able to find recipie and it's escaped from my pea brain. Thanks for posting, I'm going to "pig out"

  39. I made this for my mothers birthday today!! So yummy! Thank you for sharing.

  40. My mother had this recipe as Pig Pickin' cake. Her recipe did not include the powdered sugar and she would always poke holes in the cake with a toothpick and pour some of the pineapple juice over it. It's my favorite and she would make it for my birthday in July(perfect as you said for hot weather). She's been gone almost 6 years and I still can't make it to taste like hers.

  41. I've been excited ever since I found your site here recently. I was especially excited to see this recipe though...because I already had it. lol We call it Piggy Cake. Anyways, the reason i was so excited is because if I have at least ONE recipe that you already have, maybe one day I'll cook as good as you!

  42. Have had this recipe for years but mine does not call for butter in the cake mix instead it calls for a butter cake mix, 4 eggs and a can of mandarin oranges, juice too. It turns out light and fluffy and sooooo GOOD. Everything else is the same.

  43. I used to make this cake often. We called it pea picking cake since it was made during the summer and made a good dessert to have after picking peas on the farm. It is better if you put some nuts in the topping. I always used chopped pecans.

    Glad your mother was able to have this cake for her 60th birthday. What are you planning to make for her 70th?!

  44. Never known anyone else to make pea picking' cake other than my own mom. So glad to have found your recipe and blog (thanks to pinterest!) and the chance to share the love. This is a MUST for every birthday and cookout!

  45. My family as made this cake for years and we call it "Pig Pickin Cake" because you make a pig out of yourself eating it. We also make it with three layers, it seems to absorb the pineapple and cream taste even better.

  46. I've always heard it called "Pig Pickin" cake too, because the ladies used to take them to the bbqs in the community. No matter what you call it, it really is good! :)

  47. I have made this cake throughout the years for large groups and I have always used the yellow cake mix UNTIL last week. I substituted an orange cake mix and it is so much better! I will not go back to the yellow cake mix. It got rave reviews from my church group.


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