Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Orange Crunch Cake

on March 30, 2016

The recipe for today is a delicious cake that’s great for spring. My son loves this cake, and he requested it for his birthday cake for years. He’s recently expanded his horizons a bit and tried some new and different birthday cakes, so it was fun to make this one again. Our whole family loves this Orange Crunch Cake (we sometimes also call it Sunshine Cake because it tastes like sunshine after a long Minnesota winter) and this year we had it for a family gathering on Easter Sunday, additionally celebrating what would have been my father-in-law’s 100th birthday. I did a Google Search to see if the recipe was still out there anywhere and I found that it’s still on the Betty Crocker website, but it’s just a little different. You can find that recipe here. It’s a great cake for a celebration, but seriously, it’s great anytime. It’s unbelievably good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Orange Crunch Cake

Crunch Layer:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted (I used butter)


1 package yellow cake mix

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup orange juice

1/3 cup oil (I used canola)

3 eggs

2 Tablespoons grated orange peel


1 can vanilla ready-made frosting

1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

3 Tablespoons grated orange peel

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I use a bit more than that – about the same as the orange peel)

11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained, or 1 orange, sectioned

Mint leaves, if desired

Grease and flour two 9″ or 8″ round cake pans.

In a small bowl, combine crunch layer ingredients until crumbly.

Press half of the crunch mixture into each prepared pan.

In a large bowl, blend cake ingredients at low speed until moistened; beat 2 minutes at highest speed.

Pour batter evenly over crunch layer.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans.

Cool completely.

In a small bowl, beat frosting until fluffy; add whipped topping and beat until light and fluffy.

Fold in grated orange and lemon peel.

Place 1 layer crunch side up on serving plate; spread with 1/4 of frosting.

Top with remaining layer crunch side up.

Spread top and sides with remaining frosting.

Arrange orange sections on top.

Garnish with mint leaves.

Store in refrigerator.


The crunch layer: graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, butter, and nuts. How can that be bad?


You can see the flecks of orange peel in the cake batter. I never get the two layers exactly even – one’s always bigger than the other.


The round pans that I have are from years ago and have a flat bar on the bottom that you can run around the pan and it makes the cake come out with no sticking (you can kind of see it in the pic above), but I still spray the pans with non-stick spray. I hope that makes sense, but you should grease and flour the pans.


This is why we also call it Sunshine Cake – the orange and lemon peel – sunshine!!


These two crunch layers are SO good. Don’t forget to put a few narrow strips of waxed paper around the bottom of the cake so when you’re done, you can pull them out and keep the cake plate clean.


Ha – you can decorate with more oranges than this, but this cake had to travel and I didn’t want them to move. More around the bottom would be nice, and more mint leaves around the bottom would also be nice.


I did put just a little piece of mint on top – so pretty!


Excuse the cell phone pic of the cut piece, but I didn’t have my big camera with me at the time we cut into the cake. You can see the delicious crunch layers on the inside of the cake. It’s so good. It’s just the most delicious cake that tastes like a bite of sunshine in your mouth. I highly recommend that you try this cake. It seems like a lot of steps, but it’s really not difficult. You and your family will love it! I’m pretty sure someone in your family will request this one for their birthday and you’ll be making it for years. You’ve been warned.




4 responses to “Orange Crunch Cake

  1. That looks a really pretty cake. Might try it!

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