This is an amazingly easy cake I created for a church function when I was a teenager. I received rave reviews and never had a crumb to sample. The cook time will be determined
by the cake mix directions and your cookware.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cake as directed on package using 2 round metal cake pans (33-36 minutes).
Transfer cakes to cooling racks until you feel no heat when you put your palm over them.
Spread mandarin oranges on a plate covered with paper towel and allow juices to run off.
Use a round, decorative platter or cake stand, if desired.
I recommend laying strips of wax paper along the outer rim of the platter before laying down the first layer of cake. This makes for a sharp presentation! Do not lay an entire sheet under the cake. It will become trapped and might fall apart, leaving bits of wax paper behind.
Set the first layer of cake in the center of the platter. Open the can of frosting and stir until fluffy and easy to spread.
Using a rubber frosting spatula or butter knife, spread frosting over the top of the first layer.
If using one can of oranges, separate one third of the oranges (if using two cans, use ONE can for this step and leave oranges WHOLE). Quickly chop each orange into two or three pieces. Spread chopped oranges over the top of the frosted cake. It does not have to look perfect, but try to ensure each slice will have oranges in the middle.
Carefully lay the second cake layer over the mandarin oranges and center over the first layer.
Spread the rest of the cream cheese frosting over the top and down the sides until all traces of cake are hidden.
Smooth down the frosting on the top so the oranges will lay flat.
When you are happy with the frosting's appearance, carefully lay out the remainder of the whole mandarin oranges in a circular pattern. Do not chop these oranges!
Starting with the outer edge of the cake, place oranges at even spaces. Turn the plate as you go to rotate the cake.
If the spacing seems off, carefully pick up the misplaced orange and rearrange.
If you have enough left, make an additional inner ring of oranges.
Design Tip: do not center the inner ring between the outer ring and the cake's center. This would make a bullseye effect. Instead, lay them closer to the outside ring or nearer the cake's center.
Leave behind 3-5 oranges to make a "flower" in the center of the cake. Simply place them so one end of each orange is centered and touching the others. It will look like a flower when done.
Carefully remove wax paper and discard.
Refrigerate cake until you are ready to serve. It tastes best cool or cold.