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I’m in sort of a potluck mood lately. I can’t explain it. I don’t know whether it’s that we haven’t had a potluck meal at our church for awhile…or that I miss all the weird and wonderful and warm foods on a potluck table…or that I’m just ready for things to get back to normal after all the Christmas and New Year rush…or that my fifth grade teacher blamed me for the weekly readers being out of order when it was really Andrew Hill that messed them all up—I don’t know.

But I do know this: I have some serious issues and I’m glad I’m a churchgoing woman.

Andrew Hill? Weekly readers? I had no idea I’d been bottling that up all these years.

I feel cleansed.

I also know this: I love this cake. I have no idea why it’s called Pig Cake. And I don’t really care. I just know that it’s a scrumptious potluck classic that I’ve seen (and eaten, with enthusiasm) over and over throughout my life. I have generations of church ladies before me to thank.

Oh, and I also know one more thing:

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The Cast of Characters is back! It’s been on sabbatical for many, many months. It went on retreat and found itself. Happy New Year!

And what an intimidating and high-gourmet cast it is. Try not to fear the impressive array. You’ll need a yellow cake mix, a can of mandarin oranges, a stick of margarine, four eggs, vanilla extract, vanilla pudding mix, powdered sugar, Cool Whip, and crushed pineapple.

Seriously—I don’t even know if you’ll be able to find all of this stuff. You might have to mail order it from Soho.

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First, throw the cake mix into the bowl of an electric mixer…

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Throw in a stick of softened margarine.

Not butter…margarine. It brings out the flavor of the cake mix.

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Crack in four eggs and add some vanilla extract.

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I decided to use the Madagascar stuff, just to be ornery.

Brings out the flavor of the cake mix.

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Then crack open the can of mandarin oranges…

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Totally drain the oranges, reserving 1/2 cup of the syrupy juice.

For what it’s worth, I bought the mandarin oranges with light syrup.

But only because that’s the only kind they had.

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Pour the juice into the mixing bowl…

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Then turn on the mixer and blend up this bizarre combination of ingredients.

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Mix it for four minutes on medium-high…

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Until it’s light and very fluffy.

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Next, throw in the drained oranges and blend for several seconds, or until the oranges break into small pieces.

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Next, swipe your index finger along the beater and cover said finger with batter. Lick. Close your eyes. Moan.

Then go wash your hands with soap and water.

Repeat as necessary.

(Note: please don’t do the gluttonous finger-swiping-and-licking thing if you’re older, or pregnant, or are immuno-compromised. It’s a raw egg thing.)

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Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with baking spray (or just grease and flour it the way our grandmothers always did it.)

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Spread the batter evenly in the pan, then bake it for 25 to 30 minutes, or until nice and golden and firm.

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Cool it in the pan or—my preference—turn it out onto a large platter. Let it cool completely.

Photographers of all skill levels: this white platter completely wigged out my white balance and I couldn’t be bothered to fix it in Photoshop. Don’t be like me.

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While the cake is cooling (or once it’s cooled) add the vanilla pudding mix to the (clean, because you made your daughter wash it) mixing bowl.

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Drain a can of crushed pineapple. reserving all of the juice. (You might need to squish your hands in there and force out some of the liquid. It doesn’t always go willingly.)

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Add the pineapple juice to the pudding mix…

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Then throw in some powdered sugar.

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Mix it together until combined…

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Then grab some (softened in the fridge) Cool Whip…

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And plop in about half the carton.

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Whip it all together until fluffy, then stir in the drained crushed pineapple.

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Looks weird, doesn’t it?

Yeah, well…it tastes good, man.

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Plop it on top of the cake…

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Then spread it all over the top and sides of the cake.

You can refrigerate it at this point if you’d like! The cake is great after a few hours of refrigeration.

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When you’re ready to serve it up, cut the cake into squares…

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And if you’re feeling cutesy and girlie, lay a mandarin orange slice on the top of each square.

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It’s enough to make any potluck attendee race to the dessert table.

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I like doctored-up cake mix desserts. I can’t promise you this’ll be the last one I share here.

But I can promise you it won’t.

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This is yummy, guys. It definitely won’t win any culinary awards in the pastry arts.

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But it’ll make the church ladies love ya.

On a slightly different note: that whole New Year’s resolution thing about not eating sugar and flour for thirty days?

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So far it’s not going so well.

But there’s always tomorrow!

Enjoy, guys. Happy New Year.



Here’s the handy dandy printable:

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