A Joyful Heart is Good Medicine...and so is a Good Dessert

My dad is an amazing cook, and he tried so very hard to teach me when I was growing up. I've learned a lot of the last several years, but I have to say that I love baking MUCH more than I love cooking regular dinner meals. We tried a new dessert this week, and I just had to share it with all of you!

Back story around this recipe...

We love mandarin oranges...those little Cuties mandarin oranges that you can get by the bundle at the store? Yeah those. However, I have had the hardest time finding them lately, and I have accidentally ordered regular oranges twice now. Because everyone in our house prefers the mandarin oranges, the regular ones  are just sitting there in our fridge and I have felt horrible for wasting them! I set out to find some recipes so that we could bake with them, and I found the recipe I'm sharing with you today. Ironically enough, as we were baking, my INCREDIBLY picky eater of a 4 year old (the one who is currently in feeding therapy for picky eating) ate an entire orange unprompted. Guess he got over his picky eating for the afternoon?

Anyway, I found this recipe on Pinterest, but while I was baking it, I ran into some snags and decided to adapt the instructions a bit before sharing with you guys! Please read the disclaimer below before continuing to the recipe.

*The recipe below is a modification of the original recipe linked here: Orange Roll Breakfast Cake by Melissa Stadler of Modern Honey. My modifications are based on my experience with this recipe and what I found to work easiest for me in the process. I give full credit to Melissa/Modern Honey for the recipe, including the ingredients listed and original instructions. Again, the instructions listed below are very similar to Melissa's instructions - I simply used my own words, suggestions, and changes where I felt appropriate based solely on my experience. If you choose to share this recipe, please either share the original recipe link and/or be sure that her name is included when sharing so that she receives the appropriate credit for this recipe. 

Orange Roll Breakfast Cake by Modern Honey (Adapted Instructions)

Servings: 12 (Modern Honey's original recipe says 8 servings, but this recipe makes SO MUCH!)


*Notes: I used zest from one whole orange and that got me through the recipe. Wear gloves when zesting your orange or be prepared for a pretty solid orange

stain on your hands! The butter for the topping should be softened pretty significantly (think room temp), but NOT melted. If it's not quite room temp, you can still work with it, but it makes the topping thicker and a little harder to incorporate into the bottom layer before baking. Lastly, as much as I LOVE my KitchenAid standing mixer, I will say that a hand mixer was much easier for this recipe. If you choose to use the KitchenAid for the bottom layer, be sure to use the dough hook or the flat beater, NOT the wire whip. 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 9x13 baking pan. I greased my baking pan with butter spray and I didn't find parchment paper or flour necessary for this recipe. I do recommend using a glass or light baking pan, though as opposed to a dark one.
  2. Prepare the bottom cake layer. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to mix fully. Then add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Be sure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated into the wet ingredients - you may need to use a spoon or silicone frosting spatula. This will be a more of a dough-like texture rather than a true cake batter. Pour in the melted butter and fold it into the batter with a spoon/spatula. 
  3. Evenly dip the cake dough into the prepared baking pan. Lightly flour your hands and spread the dough out evenly onto the bottom of the pan.
  4. In another mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to mix the softened butter, sugar, flour, orange juice, and orange zest for the topping. Scoop out the topping once fully mixed and spread it evenly on top of the cake dough layer. Then, using a fork, swirl it evenly into the cake dough.
  5. Bake approximately 35 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick that comes out clean. The edges and top will be a soft golden brown.
  6. While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze. Use a hand mixer and a small bowl to beat the cream cheese until creamy (1-2 minutes). Then add the powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest and mix until smooth. Set aside.
  7. Remove the cake when ready and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Gently poke several holes into the cake using a toothpick - poking with a toothpick and turning the toothpick in a circle a couple of times works best. Pour the glaze evenly over the cake while it is still warm but not too hot. The glaze will seep into the holes in the cake to fill it. Use the entire portion of glaze. 
  8. Serve warm and garnish with orange zest if preferred.
  9. You can store this cake covered in the refrigerator. Just cut a piece later and heat it up in the microwave for about 15 seconds. 

We only used one whole orange for this recipe, which means we have at least 15 left in the fridge, but I'll keep you guys updated as we continue to explore more orange baking recipes!

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