Easy Moist Lemon Cake
A box mix is elevated to the next level and crowned with a zippy glaze to create the perfect dessert for spring or summer.
I’m sweet on lemons. If sunshine had a flavor, it would be lemony. Lemons just work in savory and sweet recipes, not to mention cocktails. This perfect little fruit is available year-round, but spring’s lighter fare seems to be the perfect backdrop for lemons.
Lemon desserts are some of my favorites, and this super moist lemon cake is easy to make, thanks to the box mix that’s measured the dry ingredients for you. From-scratch bakers, I also have an alternative for you at the end of this post, but honestly, this moist lemon cake recipe is next level, so I hope you’ll try it.
For this recipe, you’ll need:
1 box lemon cake mix (you could also use yellow cake if that’s what you have on hand)
1 package instant vanilla pudding (lemon pudding mix would work here if you’re using yellow cake mix)
4 eggs (Here’s a tip: If you’re short an egg or two, substitute ¼ cup of plain or vanilla yogurt per egg. I had to do this to make my cake this time and it turned out beautifully.)
1 cup water
⅓ cup vegetable oil
This can be baked in a loaf pan (that’s what I did) or a in a Bundt. To glaze the cooled cake, microwave about ½ cup of lemon frosting for 10 to 15 seconds until it’s smooth.
Even if you think you’re not a baker, I promise, you can make this cake and proudly take it to a graduation party, baby shower, picnic, or any spring gathering with family and friends.
The pudding mix creates the rich, moist texture, and the cake’s crumb is tender. I baked the cake two days ago and it’s still moist after sitting (wrapped) on my kitchen counter. I’ll probably freeze part of it for later.
This moist lemon cake also is super versatile. It’s perfect plain, but you can use it in a trifle with berries. Here’s another idea: macerate mixed berries in Limoncello, chill, and serve over a slice of the cake. (Maybe I won’t freeze that second half after all.)
My original intent for this lemon cake was to use it in fruit skewers. However, I think a more traditional pound cake would have worked better. The cubed pieces of lemon cake didn’t consistently stay on the skewers; the texture wasn’t dense enough for this application. But I thought the presentation was pretty and a little different. So, if you want to try the cake and fruit skewers, I’d suggest using my grandma’s pound cake recipe, which I featured in the Three Women in the Kitchen cookbook. Here’s her recipe (with my lemony twists.)
Cream Cheese Pound Cake
(From Three Women in the Kitchen: Recipes and Stories of Growing Up in St. Louis.)
¾ pound unsalted butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (for the lemon cake, use lemon extract)
3 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and cream cheese.
Add eggs, one at a time, and continue to blend.
Add extracts and flour, beating until batter is smooth.
Pour batter into greased and floured 10-inch tube pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake is golden and toothpick comes out clean.
Let cake cool and sift powdered sugar on top to finish.
You can add a lemony punch to the pound cake. Add the zest from half a lemon to the batter or a teaspoon or two of lemon extract. If you grow herbs and have lemon basil, lemon thyme, or lemon verbena, adding a few teaspoons of one of these would be interesting. And don’t forget our good friend, limoncello; use this instead of the lemon extract. You also could swap powdered sugar for the lemon glaze used in original moist lemon cake recipe.
• Storing lemons. Although lemons placed in a pretty bowl look great on your counter, they will not last more than a week, so when you buy lemons, place them in a plastic zip-top bag and store in the refrigerator’s crisper for up to a month. If you’ve cut a lemon but didn’t use all of it, store the remaining fruit in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
• Juicing a lemon: Remember to roll it under the palm of your hand on top of your counter prior to slicing it in half. You’ll get the most amount of juice this way.
• Cleaning with lemons: Taste of Home suggests a number of applications for lemons around the house (some I don’t agree with, like throwing rinds down your disposal). But you can clean your cutting boards and copper or aluminum pots by sprinkling regular table salt on the surfaces and scrubbing with half a lemon.
Now when life gives you lemons, you know that you can create some pretty fabulous food. What’s your favorite lemony recipe? Please share in comments below, and as always, thanks for being a part of our kitchen community.