From summer weddings to dinner party desserts, there’s nothing like the golden glow of a lemon cake. There’s just something about that delectable combination of taste, texture, color, and overall aura that’s absolutely gorgeous.
These cakes are all the better when the lemony loveliness is properly paired with a yellow hue.
Of course, unlike their fruit counterparts, lemon cakes don’t grow on trees, nor does yellow cake mix – someone has to make them.
Why shouldn’t that someone be you?
Let’s take a look at how to make your own yellow cake mix and incorporate it into a lovely lemon cake.
Mixing up Yellow Cake Mix
If you have never actually made a lemon cake before, you might think the yellow color comes naturally.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. You have to mix it yourself, which means figuring out what kind of color you want and how to best create it.
You might think “yellow is yellow,” but ask a florist, artist, wedding planner or, yes, cake baker how many yellows there are, and you’re bound to get a bountiful bouquet of answers.
For example, do you want a bright bold yellow a la sunflowers in nature or those painted by Van Gogh? Or are you looking to tone things down for a more muted, almost beige or whitish-yellow that’ll look nice without stealing the show?
The yellow cake mix recipe listed here is for a light-ish, middle-of-the-road yellow cake, but you are free to add food coloring or other ingredients to amp up the color or tone it down.
For starters, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Eggs (preferably on the larger side)
- Vegetable oil
- Butter (preferably pre-softened)
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
Exact amounts can vary, though the link to that recipe provides their recommendation.
You’ll also need a quart-sized mason jar in which to mix all of these ingredients together as well as a stand mixer.
Pour the correct amount of flour (the recommended ratio is 2¼ cups) into the mason jar. If it is the proper size, this should fill a good deal of the jar, at which point it’ll be time to start adding on top, in succession, sugar, baking powder, and finally salt. In the amounts listed, this should fill your mason jar almost to the brim.
Now it’s time to mix things up.
Take a sufficient amount of softened butter and mix it in the stand mixer for at least one to two minutes on a typical “Medium” setting.
Once you have done that, take the dry ingredients you just mixed up in the mason jar and combine them with the butter in the mason jar for at least 30 seconds.
Now add the milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla to the mixture. You’ll want to crank things up just slightly, if possible, but not too much – a “Medium High” setting for one minute would be ideal.
In the batter you have just created, you’ll want to check the color. Is it yellow enough? The color produced by this mixture should be a pale yellow.
If you are looking for something more vibrant, you might want to consider adding food coloring or turning to yellow frosting.
By this point, you should have your yellow cake mix batter ready.
If you want to continue cooking with it alone, you can place it in a pan and bake it at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit for around 20 to 25 minutes.
On the other hand, if you want your new yellow cake mix for a lemon cake, see below.
Creating Your Lemon Cake with Yellow Cake Mix
In addition to the cake mix you have just made, you’ll also want to have a few extra ingredients on hand, including pudding mix and lemon juice, both of which are meant to give your cake that lemony taste.
You might also consider adding actual lemon wedges, if you’re brave and skilled enough.
Add the cake mix and pudding mix together in your cake mixer along with a dash more of vegetable oil, and beat them on Medium for about 10 minutes. After this, you’ll want to take the freshly-beaten cake batter and pour it into a pre-greased tube pan.
Now it’s once again time to bake your cake. This time, you’ll want to do so for far longer, about 50 minutes at 350 degrees.
Once you take it out of the oven, it’s time to add even more lemony goodness by adding a splash of lemon juice.
This should be combined with powdered sugar in a saucepan, which you then bring to a boil and stir until it starts to congeal into a consistency that can be easily drizzled or spread over the top and along the sides of your cake.
A Few Tips and Tricks
That said, you don’t want to overdo it with the lemon flavor, either.
More isn’t always better when it comes to baking, and that’s certainly the case with lemon cakes. Too much lemon and you could wind up with a cake that tastes too sour to enjoy.
Instead, you’re looking to hit that sweet spot between sweetness and sourness that makes lemon cakes so tantalizingly tangy. If you are using both lemon juice and lemon pudding mix, therefore, be sure that you don’t overdo it with one or both.
An average lemon tends to provide about three tablespoons of lemon juice. For the recipe mentioned above, two lemons should be sufficient, especially if you are also using lemon cake mix.
For the best lemon juice producing results, try cutting your lemon in half and applying pressure gently to either end of the half, or using a citrus squeezer. The latter method can be useful for helping you extract pulp and seeds.
Finally, a word on your powdered sugar game. For best results, you’ll want to sift the bag a bit before pouring it out, lest it come out in clumps, which won’t evenly spread with your lemon juice.
Following these steps, you can whip up a lovely lemon cake with yellow cake mix that’s as good as gold.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.