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Sunny Orange Layer Cake

If you like orange flavor, you'll love this made-from-scratch orange cake recipe. No one will ever believe that you use gelatin as the secret ingredient in both the cake and the frosting.
  • Total Time
    Prep: 45 min. Bake: 25 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    14 servings


  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 package (3 ounces) orange gelatin
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange gelatin powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange zest. Combine the flour, gelatin, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with orange juice and milk, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, gelatin powder and vanilla until blended.
  • Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with frosting. Top with remaining cake layer; frost top and sides of cake. Store in the refrigerator.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 475 calories, 23g fat (10g saturated fat), 81mg cholesterol, 370mg sodium, 63g carbohydrate (42g sugars, 0 fiber), 6g protein.

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Average Rating:
  • kemkema
    May 1, 2020

    How can some make it and say how terrible and others loved it.

  • Jerry
    Mar 21, 2020

    This recipe doesn’t work. I’ve been baking for almost 60 years; I followed the instructions faithfully.(even used the cake flour). In my opinion the problem is one of chemistry. Jello powder naturally absorbs liquid. I think the orange jello absorbed much of the liquid in this recipe leaving the cake sunken and dry. It seemed as if the jello had sort of jelled within the cake—unfortunately, with negative results.I’m wondering what would happen if more liquid were added?

  • Maggie
    Dec 31, 2016

    I would give this recipe 0 stars if that was an option. Followed the directions to the letter and the layers were both concave. Made a second batch thinking it was a fluke, and they were worse than the first. Terribly disappointed. Don't even bother with this recipe. I am an experienced baker and this was terrible. There must be better ones out there. Don't waste your time on this mess.

  • meln353
    Sep 4, 2016

    Eating this cake at the moment. I wasn't going to make it because of the reviews about the crumb, but accidentally made this one instead of the one I intended. (I was going to use the frosting so I had two recipes pulled up.)This cake was delicious! A happy accident for me. The crumb was dense and not dry at all. I didn't have cake flour, so I removed two tbsp flour and added 2tbsp corn starch. Perhaps it was the cake flour that threw previous users off? I also creamed the shortening and sugar until it was actually creamy (5 min in the stand mixer - maybe more). Beat the eggs at least a minute each, then scraped the sides and beat again before adding the next egg. By the last egg, I had a perfect batter. It did separate when I added the orange juice though.I agreed that the frosting was not sweet enough, so I doubled the powdered sugar and it was plenty sweet. I found the gelatin to be a bit gritty, however there's not really any room for liquid in the frosting so dissolving it first in a tbsp or so of hot water could be a disaster.All in all, this was a very rich, lightly orange tasting cake with a moist, dense crumb. Great recipe!

  • what the heck?
    Sep 1, 2016

    WOW!!! A very moist & tasty cake. Only thing I did differently was melted some orange marmalade and brushed it on the top of the bottom layer before I icing it. I kept the cake in the fridge. Made it twice and both times it got the OMG factor!!!

  • squeakymouse
    Aug 30, 2016

    Taste was delicious, batter was creamy, crumb was dry, dry, dry (son suggested pouring water on it), frosting was skimpy and too cheesy. Definitely needs work to bring the crumb to a standard to match the taste. Surprised at the result as I followed directions with no changes as I'm an experienced Baker.

  • Worshipguy
    Dec 17, 2012

    I made this for my son's 3rd birthday party because he said he wanted an orange cake, which is his favorite color. Definitely a hit! Very moist and full of orange flavor, both cake and icing.

  • stwood64
    Aug 9, 2012

    No comment left

  • Leah A
    Mar 16, 2009

    Oh my goodness. I just made this cake for my office—I didn't make the icing, though (I had some buttercream on hand instead)—and it is delicious! So moist and flavorful, and so easy to put together! This is definitely one that I'll make again!