Happy Endings

Before the weather starts to cool, make sure that you take advantage of the beautiful summer days that August has to offer. And what better way to enjoy the outdoors than to pack up a basket with your favorite foods and go on a picnic?

This month, I'm offering you a perfect picnic cake. Picture this: You've finished a satisfying picnic lunch and you're ready to enjoy your happy ending. However, when you go to take that first bite of dessert it crumbles all over your blanket and you spend the next five minutes scrambling to pick up the mess before you find yourself in the middle of an ant attack!

Well, if you make your next picnic dessert Orange Picnic Cake you won't find yourself in this situation. This is one cake that just doesn't crumble. Its texture is chewy and its tangy flavor is accented by a simple vanilla-orange frosting. It's also perfect finger food -- no plates or forks necessary!

Since I'm going out of my way to encourage you to go on a picnic, I think it's only fair that I share some of my favorite picnic ideas with you too:

  • Remember to bring some essentials for outdoor enjoyment and safety: bug spray, sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, sun screen, and napkins.
  • Remember to bring some extra comfort and "play" items: an extra-large picnic blanket, some big pillows or cushions, a good book of poetry or short stories, and a small vase for picking wild flowers.
  • Even if it's a cooler day, try to avoid choosing a picnic spot without any shade. Keeping out of the direct sunlight -- especially between the hours of 11AM and 1PM -- will help to keep you cooler. Besides, your skin will thank you for it!
  • Make sure that you bring more drinks than you think you'll need. Plenty of water or iced tea will help to keep everyone from getting dehydrated.
  • If you're bringing Fido too, make sure you remember to bring water for him too! He might also appreciate if you bring a Frisbee or ball to play fetch with.
  • Remember that picnic spots are often found in the most unlikely places. Explore your neighborhood for some new favorites and keep an "emergency picnic kit" in your vehicle in case you find an unexpected picnic is in order. There's no need to pack food -- many restaurants will gladly box a lunch for you if you ask. Just make sure that you have some of the essentials and comfort items mentioned above handy!

With all of that said, the most important thing to remember when enjoying the great outdoors is to enjoy them! Happy picnicking!

Orange Picnic Cake

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 6 T. margarine
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. grated orange rind
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. grated orange rind

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 10" spring form pan with cooking spray. Carefully place a layer of waxed paper that has been cut to fit snugly into the bottom of the pan into the spring form pan. Lightly coat the waxed paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Mix the flour and pudding mix into a bowl. Add the margarine; work until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the eggs, orange rind and orange juice; mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bump the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles from the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Release the spring form pan and remove the lining paper and allow the cake to cool completely.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese until just smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat at a low speed until just blended. Overbeating the frosting will make it runny, so DO NOT OVERBEAT. Carefully fold in the orange rind. Frost the top of the cooled cake and store loosely covered. Allow to set for one day before eating to achieve the best texture and flavor.

  • Yields: 1 - 10" cake
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes