Everyone deserves a little cake on their birthday and mine happened to be yesterday, so this is an indulgent recipe post in honor of my 32nd loop around the track! Most years, on my birthday, I go for my old school love...a big fat cookie cake from Great American Cookie, but this year, all I could think about was a cool, fruity Pineapple Mandarin Cake.
There are a lot of names & variations to this recipe, but this version is basically a doctored up boxed cake mix with canned mandarin oranges and a cool whip & crushed pineapple frosting. Along with a packet of dry instant vanilla pudding mix folded into the frosting and the ingredients that your boxed mix calls for, this easy combo of ingredients make for a light and tasty cake that screams summertime.
Start by preheating your oven to 350°. In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, combine the yellow cake mix, along with additional ingredients listed on box mix (i.e. eggs, butter/oil) and mandarin oranges (with juice). Beat on medium speed in mixer (or whisk like you mean it!) for around 2 minutes.
*Note: some boxed cake mixes call for butter, some oil. Using butter will give you a more rich, dense cake, while oil will give you more of a fluffy texture. Both will make delicious cake, so you can use your personal preference and pick a boxed mix that calls for either butter or oil.
Grease the bottom of two round 9" pans and evenly divide cake batter between the two. *If you prefer more of a sheet cake style, you can use that instead. Bake on the center rack for 25-30 minutes (or until a knife comes out clean in center). Once the cake is done baking, move to a cooling rack.
While your cake is baking, you can start mixing up the frosting. In a mixing bowl, gently fold in a can of drained crushed pineapple & a packet of dry instant vanilla pudding mix into the cool whip. Keep the cool whip mixture refrigerated until your cake is out of the oven and completely cooled.
Once the cake is completely cooled, move to a plate and add the frosting to one of the layers. We recently watched Chef's Table's Christina Tosi make a mesmerizingly gorgeous/beautiful/colorful/adorable birthday cake with frosting free, bare naked sides. So this is my way less pretty version of frosting free sides!
Top your cake off with the other cake layer and frost the rest. You can finish it off with some chopped pecans or walnuts or make it pretty with some orange or pineapple slices. This cake tastes the best when it's a little cold, so be sure to refrigerate when you're not eating!
Thanks for Chewsing!