Orange dreamsicle cake combines creamy whipped topping with fruity orange gelatin dessert for a flavor combination reminiscent of an orange soda ice cream float or Popsicle. The cake can be made with layers of cake, gelatin and cream, or with a swirl of the gelatin so the orange flavor penetrates throughout the cake.
Much of the orange flavor in the finished cake comes from the orange-flavored gelatin, but the cake itself should have orange flavor. Make your favorite orange cake recipe, or start with your favorite white or yellow cake recipe -- box mix cakes work well. In some dreamsicle cake variations, one to two packages of orange gelatin are mixed into the cake batter. To achieve the orange flavoring while keeping the gelatin separate, replace all or part of the water in the recipe with orange juice or orange soda. The fizz in orange soda does the job of oil, so omit oil in the recipe. For stronger orange flavor, mix in some pure orange extract, using approximately 1 teaspoon of orange extract for a standard 9-by-13-inch cake. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Prepare Orange Gelatin
The orange gelatin in the cake is prepared just as you would prepare gelatin squares for dessert, except you don't let the gelatin set in the refrigerator. Use two boxes of orange gelatin mix for a standard 9-by-13-inch cake pan or a two-layer 8- or 9-inch round cake. For every two boxes of mix, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the powdered orange gelatin until dissolved. Stir in 1 cup of cold water for every two boxes of gelatin. Use the gelatin while it is still warm.
The method for adding gelatin depends on whether you want neat layers of cake, gelatin and cream, or if you prefer orange gelatin throughout the cake. For a layered cake, cut the cake in half to make two thin layers. Pour half of the gelatin evenly over the bottom layer. Add a layer of cream filling, if desired, before stacking the other cake half on top. Pour the remaining gelatin evenly over the cake.
Alternatively, poke holes all over the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon or similar-sized object. Push the handle in far enough to touch the bottom of the cake pan. It's best to do this while the cake is still warm from the oven. Pour the hot gelatin mixture to fill each hole. Pour any remaining gelatin mixture evenly over the top.
The cream topping and optional filling for an orange dreamsicle cake uses non-dairy whipped topping and creamy vanilla pudding. For a 9-by-13-inch sheet cake or 8- to 9-inch round layer cake, you'll need 1 box of instant vanilla pudding mix, 1 cup of milk -- half of the package directions -- and 1 small 8-ounce tub of whipped topping. Mix the ingredients in a chilled metal mixing bowl to the consistency of buttercream frosting. Leave the cream topping plain or add up to 1 teaspoon each of vanilla and orange extract for added flavor. Spread the frosting evenly over all sides of the cake. The cake must chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour to set the gelatin.