My daughter always talked about a wonderful cake called Pea Pick’n Cake when she was young. The only problem was the mother who made the cake would not share the recipe. That was before Paula Dean and internet. This was not uncommon for recipes to held close as a cook’s secret . It was done to protect their special status as to being asked to make or be paid to make it. So I paid her one time to make it for her birthday. I had dropped my cake plate off so the cake could be used and paid her. When I picked the cake up, it didn’t take me but a few minutes to realize that it was a Florida Sunshine Cake that I had made before. Some of the other names for this cake is Celestial Snow Cake, Orange Pineapple Cake and Pig Lick’n Cake.
How did this orange pineapple cake end up with some many names? Hotels in Florida would serve a orange cake made with mandarin oranges topped with pineapple whipped cream or butter cream. In the early days there was not much refrigeration and canned products were used. So canned milk and fruit was what was available for chefs to use year around and convenient in this hot climate. The famous key lime pie was made from canned sweetened milk, eggs and lime juice.
Another traditional cake was the Daffodil Cake. This was a Easter sponge cake that was filled with pineapple jam and covered with pineapple whipped butter cream frosting. Sponge cake was leavened by whipping egg whites full of air. Modern baking powder was not available until 1900 that was reliable. Many cooks had their own special twist for this seasonal cake. Some cooks in different regions just matched up their daffodil frosting to a mandarin orange cake. They also took advantage of convenient products like instant pudding mix, cake mix and whipped toppings.
In the southern states like Georgia and the Carolina’s, pig roasts or barbecue pork roast are called pig pickings. A whole pig is roasted over a barbecue and then the meat was picked off. These barbecues are special events and everyone brings their favorite pot luck dishes and desserts. This cake became a favorite dessert at these events and became known as pig picking cake. In the Tennessee area during hog killing time and sausage and ham making events among farmers, this cake became known as pea pick’n cake. Farmers would get together and help out with this chore at each other farms and the ladies would provide a covered dish meal.
By the time the 1980’s rolled around this was a very popular cake and the recipe had made it into newspapers and women’s magazines the decade before. It was given many different names but the fact remained that this cake has it’s roots in the south.
Pig Picking Cake
- 1 box yellow butter cake mix
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 can (11 or 15 ounce) mandarin oranges, undrained
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Prepare 3 round cake pans with vegetable spray and parchment paper on the bottom.
Save a few mandarin oranges for decorating the top of the cake after frosting. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Pour evenly into the three pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester come out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan to cake racks to finish cooling before frosting.
- 1 package (4-1/2 serving size) instant vanilla pudding
- 1 can (20 ounce) crushed pineapple, undrained
- 1 container (16 ounce) frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip) thawed
- 1 cup toasted flaked coconut (optional)
Blend instant vanilla pudding and pineapple with juice. Let thicken for 5 minutes. Fold in the container of thawed whipped topping until blended. Frost cooled cake. Sprinkle cake with toasted coconut and garnish with saved orange sections. Keep cake refrigerated.