Lemon Cake
A delicious recipe from the author of "Cake Magic, Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations," Caroline Wright.

Ingredients for Lemon Cake (Makes one 8- or 9-inch two-layer cake or one 10-inch Bundt cake, one 13 x 9-inch sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes)

  • Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pans
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting the pan
  • 3 1/2 cups dry Cake Magic! Cake Mix, whisked well before measuring
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter melted and cooled, or 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Ingredients for Mixed Berry Syrup (Makes 1 cup)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon seedless strawberry jam
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cherry liqueur or Kirsch (optional but recommended)

Ingredients fro Strawberry Frosting (Makes 4 cups)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Caramelized Strawberry Jam
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups (one 16-ounce box) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Directions for Lemon Cake

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and side of the pan(s). Dust with flour to coat, then invert and tap out any excess. (If making cupcakes, use liners instead of greasing and coating the tins.)

2) Whisk together the cake mix, lemon zest, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, butter, lemon juice, and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to overmix). Divide the batter between the prepared pans.

3) Bake until the layers are evenly golden brown and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted in the center of the cake, 32 to 36 minutes (40 to 50 minutes for a Bundt, 25 to 35 minutes for a 13 by 9-inch cake, and 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes). (At this point, coat the layers with syrup as directed on page 130 and let them cool completely in the pans.)


Grapefruit Cake: Substitute freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for the lemon juice and grapefruit zest for the lemon zest.

Lemon–Poppy Seed Cake: Add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds to the dry ingredients.

Lemon-Ricotta Cake: Substitute 1⁄2 cup whole-milk ricotta mixed with 1⁄4 cup water for the 3⁄4 cup whole milk.

Lime Cake: Substitute freshly squeezed lime juice for the lemon juice and lime zest for the lemon zest.

Orange Cake: Substitute freshly squeezed orange juice for the lemon juice and orange zest for the lemon zest.

Gluten-Free Lemon Cake: Dust the pans with white rice flour. Use Gluten-Free Cake Magic! Cake Mix (page 143) for the cake mix.

Vegan Lemon Cake: Grease the pans with non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening and dust with flour. Whisk together the dry ingredients as directed. In a blender, combine 4 ounces firm tofu (crumbled and packed into 1⁄2 cup), 11⁄2 cups water, 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1 cup vegetable oil (instead of the melted butter), and blend until smooth. (Omit the eggs and milk.) Add the tofu mixture to the dry ingredients in Step 2 and proceed as directed.

Directions for Mixed Berry Syrup

1) Combine the sugar, water, jams, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then stir in the vanilla and liqueur, if using. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, covered, for at least 20 minutes. Strain the syrup. Use the syrup warm or at room temperature. Mixed Berry Syrup will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week. Reheat it in a small saucepan over low heat before using.


*Strawberry Syrup: Substitute 1 tablespoon strawberry preserves for the raspberry jam. Omit the cherry liqueur.

Directions for Strawberry Frosting

1) Combine the butter, cream cheese, jam, salt, and 2 cups of the sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.

2) Add the remaining sugar and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until the frosting is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

3) Strawberry Frosting will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 1 week. Before using, bring it back to room temperature and stir it vigorously or beat it again for best results.


Vegan Strawberry Frosting: Substitute 1 1/2 cups non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening for the butter. Substitute 1⁄3 cup tofu cream cheese, at room temperature, for the cream cheese. Prepare and substitute Vegan Caramelized

Strawberry Jam for the Caramelized Strawberry Jam.

Raspberry Frosting: Substitute Caramelized Raspberry Jam or the Caramelized Strawberry Jam.

Strawberry Glaze for Bundt Cakes: Combine 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons Caramelized Strawberry Jam, a pinch of salt, and 2 cups confectioners’ sugar in a medium-size saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let boil, without stirring, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 ounce cubed cream cheese, at room temperature, and 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract until combined.

Strawberry Frosting for Sheet Cakes: Use 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature; 2 tablespoons Caramelized Strawberry Jam; a pinch of salt; 2 cups confectioners’ sugar; 1 ounce cream cheese, at room temperature; and 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Proceed as directed in the original recipe.

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