Lemon Jello Cake

My mother in law has made this cake every Easter pretty much since they rolled the stone away from the tomb. It is the harbinger of spring for my husband and his family. For years, I didn't eat it. It was very yellow and it involved not one but two mixes. That didn't sit well with me. I've spent a lot of my adult life undoing the damage of a childhood in which dinner meant beef stroganof helper (actually, even worse, indifferently prepared beef stroganof helper) and other things that came in boxes and bags and tasted not like food but like food drawn on pieces of cardboard. Lemon Jello Cake struck me as being of that ilk.

The other problem was that the cake has a distinct daffodil-like hue. Where I grew up, daffodils were a big deal, a cash crop. Every year there was a Daffodil Parade. A Daffodil Princess, chosen after months of scheming and lobbying. It was weird eating a cake the color of the sacred flower. And besides, I was pretty sure it would be really, really icky.

It's not. It's lovely. It's yellow, sure, but it's fluffy, and has a tart glaze. It's easy. And it puffs up a little in the pan so you feel like you've really done some kind of magical chemical transformation-thing which is part of what makes cooking so appealing.

Here's the recipe:

one box lemon cake mix
one box lemon jello
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup canola oil
4 eggs

Everything goes in the mixer for four minutes and then into a 9X13 pan for 35 minutes. Oven: 350 degrees.

The glaze:

3 tablespoons of melted butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

mix it all together and put it on the cake while the cake is still hot. Do that thing to the surface of the cake where you poke a million holes in it with a toothpick first so the glaze soaks in.

This is good with berries, especially raspberries. It is good with tea. It is just plain good. Serve it while wearing a frilly apron. Or jeans and a tshirt. Whatever you wear when you serve this will look good because you are the goddess who produced the harbinger of spring in a 9 by 13 cake pan.


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