By Rose McAvoy
I planned to take a break from making treats. I was going to focus on savory side dishes and warm-your-tummy dinner suggestions. I was going to make a bit more effort in presenting a reflection of how our family eats on a daily basis. Instead I made a cake.
After sitting quietly in the back of my cupboard for months, a box of lemon cake mix began calling to me. A few weeks later I couldn’t shake its siren song. I needed to find a reason to turn it into something. As luck would have it, we received an invitation to a casual dinner party and the hostess asked me to bring a simple dessert. Bingo!
I have previously made cupcakes by combining crushed pineapple with a box of cake mix. They come out light, fluffy, and quite tasty. For this dessert I had in mind something more moist, almost gooey in texture. Mixing yogurt into a cake creates an indulgent richness and density. Both of these ingredients help to reduce the calories and fat in your recipe because they allow you to reduce or omit the oil and eggs normally used. Looking at the box of cake mix, I imagined a final result both light in flavor and rich in texture. Then without a second thought I dumped in both the yogurt and the pineapple before popping my concoction into a hot oven.
Before I washed the dishes I licked the spoon clean. The batter was pretty much amazing. I crossed my fingers and waited to see if the finished cake maintained the bright flavor. The smell from the oven was scrumptious and indeed the fully baked cake was fabulous! Topped with a little squirt of whipped cream it was a smash hit at the dinner party. I’m pretty sure seconds were had by most, if not all, of our friends.
Once again I blame the grey midwinter days for my strong desire to eat all things citrus. And really, why not? If the sun isn’t shining outside, what better way to brighten up the place than with sunny foods? Lemons have got to be one of the most versatile foods available. They are usually very affordable, they lend fantastic flavor to both sweet and savory dishes, and most of the fruit can be used in some way leaving very little waste. When it comes to turning them into a cake – this lemon cake – well, it pretty much explains itself as far as I’m concerned.
A few words on using a boxed cake mix: There are some who will say, using a mix is not really baking, nor is it faster than preparing a batter from scratch. To them I say, no problem, I like to cook from scratch, too. I consider this method to be more assembling than baking but starting with a mix is a great way to get from mixing bowl to oven in just a few minutes. If you are not a regular baker, have little time to spend in the kitchen, or find recipes frustrating and confusing — start with a mix. Additionally, a fully stocked baking pantry can be challenging for some who are trying to stick to good eating habits. If you keep your cupboards bare of baking ingredients to prevent accidental chocolate chip cookies, this is a great way to whip up something for a potluck with nothing leftover to temp you. It is also a heck of a lot cheaper than buying all the from scratch ingredients at one time.
3 Ingredient Lemon CakePrep time: 5 – 7 minutes, Cook time: 35 – 40 minutes; Yield 16 servings
- 1 box (18.25 oz.) Pillsbury Moist Supreme Lemon Cake Mix*
- 1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in 100% pineapple juice
- 6 oz. (approximately 3/4 cup) Chobani non-fat Greek yogurt – lemon flavor
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare a 13×9 baking pan with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl combine all three ingredients making sure to mix throughly eliminating any pockets of dry cake mix. The batter will be thick.
- When fully combined, pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes until a tooth pick or cake probe can be inserted and removed cleanly.
- Cool completely before serving. Cake will be moist and slightly sticky, clean knife after each cut to prevent the cake from tearing.
*This cake mix box has 18.25 oz of mix and makes 12 servings per the package instructions. If your box contains less mix and makes fewer servings it may work better to withhold a couple tablespoons of yogurt and pineapple so the cake isn’t too sticky. This will also affect the nutritional information.