[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

I love cakes with whimsical names. The kind of names that make you think you should probably have a slice or two. Or three. Orange Kiss Me Cake. Tunnel of Fudge Cake. Pig Pickin' Cake. With Memorial Day weekend upon us and barbecue season getting into full swing, it seems an ideal time to try out a Southern picnic classic.

The traditional recipe for Pig Pickin' Cake is one of those super cinchy things you can just throw together using a box, a can, a box, a can, and a tub (respectively that's yellow cake mix, mandarin oranges, instant vanilla pudding, crushed pineapple, and Cool Whip). Orange cake with whipped pineapple frosting sounded like a winning combo to me, but I wanted to cut down on some of the cake's pre-fab-ness without driving myself nutty.

There were certain ingredients that had to stay; in a world of infinite time for dessert-making, I might consider skinning dozens of mandarin orange sections, but alas, I don't live in that world. Instead of making everything from scratch, I decided to focus on the two biggies: the cake and the whipped cream.

Lauren Weisenthal's Yellow Birthday Cake recipe has the lightness and wonderfully familiar party cake flavor without any of the preservatives or food coloring present in store-bought mixes. The addition of the oranges makes the cake super moist and tender while the pineapple whipped cream frosting lends a bright tropical vibe. This is the kind of cake you'll need to trim every time you walk by and one well worth trotting out for summertime feasting, pig or no pig.

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Pig Pickin' Cake »

Got a favorite classic American dessert recipe you'd like to see featured here? Email us with the subject: "American Classics."

About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered children's book editor by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie and a Midtown Lunch contributor. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.

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