How to make a fast, easy, cheap orange cake recipe from “The Cake Mix Doctor”

betty ming liu Food 4 Comments

Even though I’m not into baking, I recently made the most sublime orange-flavored sheet cake. It took me just a few minutes and only a few dollars.

And the secret ingredient in this rich, moist wonder? Miracle Whip salad dressing. Yeah, really.

The orange zest (which is grated fresh orange peel) really does add zest

The cake was for a surprise 50th birthday luncheon. Sort of risky to try out this recipe — for the first time — on such an important event. But we’re talking here about our Art Students League painting teacher Karen O’Neil, who loves taking chances. Plus, my classmates are an experimental bunch.

At least there were real eggs in this fakery-filled cake

That’s the only reason I had the nerve to tackle this “Orange Dreamsicle Cake” which includes not just Miracle Whip but also Dream Whip topping in powder form. Who knew you could buy it as a powder?

The results were such a hit that everyone wanted the recipe, which is from “The Cake Mix Doctor” by Anne Byrn.

This author’s specialty is taking plain old cheapo supermarket box cake mixes and jazzing them with extras. I use her book whenever I’m asked to make a cake. She has never ever failed me.

The name of this particular creation is inspired, of course, by my favorite childhood Good Humor ice-cream-on-a-stick. I can’t resist Creamsicles. Which is why the next time I make this crazy treat, I think I’ll serve it with some fresh whipped cream.

P.S. – I only made one change to the original recipe. I added orange food coloring to the cake’s sugar glaze. You know I love the color orange. And if we’re doing junk food, might as well go all the way.

Orange Dreamsicle Cake

  • Serves 16 or more
  • Preparation time: 8 minutes
  • Baking time: 40 to 45 minutes

Cake Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil for coating the pan
  • Flour for dusting the pan
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
  • ¾ cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
  • 1 package (1.3 ounces) whipped topping mix
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice (from 2 medium oranges)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice


  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a sheet cake pan with vegetable oil, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set pan aside.
  2. Place all cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer at low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more. Batter should be well-blended and thick. Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula.
  3. Place pan in oven and bake about 40-45 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  4. While cake cools, make the glaze by mixing the sugar and juice with a spoon until smooth. Spread it over the top of the cake with a knife. There. You’re done.

Note: If you’d like to see shots of the party and the cake during last Friday’s celebration, just click HERE to visit the photo album on my Facebook page.   :-)


Update on Nov. 3, 2010: I’ve gotten several emails from folks who are puzzling over the ingredient listed as “whipped topping mix.” This is what it looks like. When I opened it, there were two packets of powder mix inside. I used one and the other is right there in the photo, under the box. Enough to make one more of these crazy cakes.

Comments 4

  1. Post

    this post actually represents a big experiment for me because i’m linking you to my facebook page. i started it earlier this year but took it down pretty quickly because the concept seemed pretty pointless.

    now, though, it feels like the online world has changed with such speed that i must give it another try. so i’ll probably post on my blog once a week. during the week, i’ll upload smaller niblets on the facebook page. twitter will be for daily thoughts. don’t know if i can really manage all this, but hopefully you’ll stick around to see what happens!

  2. Betty, you got me baking…it’s been 30 years! This one was fun — even the challenge of finding the powdered whipped topping mix. No one knew what it was at the supermarket. But I found it in the pie filling section. Now I’m going to buy a zester to get more orange. The cake came out good but it had no zest!

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  4. Post

    i just made this cake again today, for the second time. it literally took just a few minutes to throw together. and yes, i served it with fresh, real whipped cream. a few little orange zest-y shavings on top. very pretty. and delish. this recipe is a keeper.

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