Lemonade Cake. All glistening, moist, crumbly, and delicious.
This is an amazingly good and amazingly easy cake to bake. As much baking as I do from scratch, I have absolutely NO problem with cakes like this and the Famous Rum Cake that start with a store bought cake mix. I could spend twice as much time baking something similar totally from scratch, but when a recipe is this good, why not take the easy road every now and then?
This recipe came to me from a wonderful, grandmotherly, spry lady named Betty Bushnell who sort of adopted me when I was a graduate student. She was famous for making this cake and would make one upon request from certain flutists and for special occasions. When I graduated, the “secret” recipe was in my graduation card.
Here’s what you need:
Yellow Cake Mix, Lemon Jello, Lemonade, Sugar, Eggs, Vegetable Oil, and Water.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
The very first step, before you do anything else, is to dissolve one 3 ounce box of lemon jello in 3/4 cup of boiling water. Give it a good whisk to help the jello dissolve and set it aside to cool.
By the way, I know it’s supposed to be jell-o but I just can’t make myself type that dumb hyphen.
The most important part of this recipe is preparing the pan. You will need a tube pan that has the removable bottom/tube section. You might be able to use a bundt pan, but I can’t make any guarantees as to how well your cake will come out of the pan if you don’t have the removable bottom. This cake is quite sticky until it cools so the tube pan just saves you a lot of worry and heartache about whether your cake will come out of the pan.
Remove the tube section and trace around the outer part of the circle on a piece of parchment paper.
Trace around the inside of the tube too.
Arts and Crafts time! Use sharp scissors to cut around the circle and then to cut the hole out of the middle.
You will quickly see that the middle hole needs to be a bit larger than the circle you drew or it won’t fit over the tube without tearing. Use your good eyeballing skills to cut a little bit bigger hole in the middle.
Before you put the parchment paper into the pan, put the bottom/tube part back in and thoroughly grease the sides, bottom, and tube of the pan with Crisco.
Lay your parchment disc on the greased bottom of the pan…
and them grease on top of the parchment paper trying to be sure that it doesn’t wrinkle in the process. This will be the top of the cake so you want the parchment to lay down as smoothly as possible.
THAT was the hardest part of this recipe.
In a large bowl (or with a mixer) combine 1 box of regular yellow cake mix (NOT a mix that has pudding in it…plain old yellow cake mix), with 4 eggs, and 3/4 cup of vegetable oil.
Give it a good stir so that the ingredients are mostly combined but a few lumps remain.
By now your jello should have cooled. Add it to the cake mix and stir to thoroughly combine and remove most of the remaining lumps.
A whisk works best if you’re mixing by hand.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour without opening the oven door.
While the cake cooks, stir 1/2 cup granulated sugar into 6 ounces of thawed lemonade concentrate.
For some reason, my store no longer sells the small 6 ounce containers of lemonade. I bought a 12 ounce can, used half (which is 3/4 cup) for the cake and made a small pitcher of lemonade with the rest.
After an hour of baking, pour the lemonade/sugar mixture over the hot cake immediately after you take it out of the oven.
Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. All the lemony goodness will soak into the cake as it cools.
When the cake is completely cool, run a sharp knife carefully around the outer edge of the cake pan and also around the middle of the tube. Release the removable bottom and turn the tube part upside down onto a plate. Remove the parchment paper if it is stuck to the top of the cake.
Betty would make beautiful, edible gardenia flowers out of marshmallows to top her cake. You can obviously see that sadly, she didn’t pass along that particular skill. Sometimes if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll garnish the cake with slices of fresh lemon. Usually I just dig in.
Betty was a fabulous lady so I think of her fondly every time I make this cake. Years before I met her, she was diagnosed with cancer and told to go home and get her affairs in order. She, in her usual style, told the doctors just where they could stick that idea and to prepare her for surgery. She lived a good 20 years more after they told her she was a goner. She passed away a few years ago but Betty’s Famous Lemonade Cake lives on.
Here’s the recipe: