Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cake of the Week: Lemonade Citrus Cake

I experimented with some unusual (for me) ingredients this week. Kind of Sandra Lee-style (she's the blonde woman who does "Semi-Homemade," aka the Food Network star I would least want to cook for me). The results of this venture were not quite disastrous, but not exactly a brilliant success either...

On Saturday, I somehow got the idea of lemon cake in my head (and the memory of lemony-goodness in my mouth), so it was going to be a lemon cake no matter what. Someone had left a box of yellow cake mix at my house, so I thought that maybe I could do something with that (enter Sandra Lee).

After a long afternoon at the National Gallery, I did not feel like treking through the POURING rain to the grocery store just to buy a couple lemons, so I revved up the Google-machine and put my thinking cap on…and came up with this recipe for lemonade cake! (Which is actually from the Deen Brothers, aka the sons of Paula Deen, aka the Food Network star I love to watch but live in fear of her food - if you've seen her show you know what I mean!)

That same someone who left the cake mix also left a large container of Country Time Lemonade Concentrate (I am more of a Crystal Lite girl myself when it comes to flavored beverages). Enter Sandra Lee – “it’s just so simple, see what you can make with ingredients you already have!” (Don’t worry faithful readers, I will not be ‘table-scaping’ in my next posting!)

So in theory, this recipe was really awesome. You just add 2 Tablespoons of lemonade powder to your box cake batter and voila – lemon cake!

I thought everything was going well, but then after taking my good-looking cakes out of the oven, they kind of collapsed. I don’t know the chemistry of this exactly, but I have noticed that when you add too much sugar to a cake, it does not rise and stay risen as much as it should. So the end result was a good tasting cake, but texture-wise it was a bit chewy and flat. If I had kept it in the oven longer, the outsides would have been overcooked, so I don’t think the solution was a longer cooking time.

I made frosting with cream cheese, butter, and some lime juice. Frosting can be a tricky issue. I’m not really into following a recipe, I just keep adding a bit of this and that until it is the right thickness. So basically, you start with softened cream cheese and butter, mix in the lime juice and a splash of vanilla, and then add cups of powdered sugar and sploshes of milk until it is the right spread-able texture (be REALLY CAREFUL about adding too much milk).

The end result: a very sweet cake!

I may experiment with the lemonade mix thing in the future, but rather than using it with box cake mix, I would make the batter from scratch and switch out some of the regular sugar for lemonade mix…we shall see…

Until next time, remember “Keep it sweet, keep it simple, and always keep it Semi-Homemade – I’m Mollie-Z.”


  1. totally agree about sandra lee being the star i would least like to cook for me. her recipies are strange

  2. If you click on the link of "least want to cook for me" it takes you to a Eeriouseats discussion about how much she sucks! Pretty funny!

  3. Well it might have been a bit chewy but it still looks delicious! Hope Asher isn't to quiet. All the best,

  4. I'm glad you had so many photos to choose from for this post! haha..

    Did you read what Anthony Bourdain says about Sandra Lee on that site? Hilarious!

    "Pure evil. This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathy Lee and Betty Crocker seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time. She Must Be Stopped. Her death-dealing can-opening ways will cut a swath of destruction through the world if not contained. I would likely be arrested if I suggested on television that any children watching should promptly go to a wooded area with a gun and harm themselves. What's the difference between that and Sandra suggesting we fill our mouths with Ritz Crackers, jam a can of Cheese Whiz in after and press hard? None that I can see. This is simply irresponsible programming. It's only possible use might be as a psychological warfare strategy against the resurgent Taliban - or dangerous insurgent groups. A large-racked blonde repeatedly urging Afghans and angry Iraquis to stuff themselves with fatty, processed American foods might be just the weapon we need to win the war on terror."

  5. Another idea would have been to actually mix up lemonade and use it in place of the water for the cake mix. and or use a little of the lemonade mix in the frosting. Then, it would be some serious lemon-ness. I like the will to experiment and enjoy the improv.

    I ummm tried out the black bean banana brownies with the black refried beans my mom accidentally got at the store and honey...not too bad, but finally have all the RIGHT ingredients now, so let's see what they should really taste like. :)

    ps it's Tori

  6. Haha - Hi Tori!!!
    Yeah, the brownies with refried beans would probably be not quite right...

    Good call on mixing in the leomnade with the water, but that still would lead to too much sugar...I didn't put it in the frosting because I thought it might be grainy, but actually it's pretty fine sugar, so maybe that would work well.