I love summer. I love everything about summer. The bright green grass, the fresh produce in River Market on lazy Saturday afternoons, the smokey smells of BBQ grills, fired up all over the neighborhood, and the much-needed change of pace in my cooking and baking agenda. Everything in the fall and winter seasons is about the aroma of spices, stick-to-your-ribs slow-cooked meals, and spending more time indoors, hopefully snug in my Snuggie in front of the beautiful and fake, gas-powered fireplace. (Yeah, we didn't look very closely before we signed the lease...) When the warmer weather claims its stake, I shake things up in the kitchen. My meals suddenly revolve around veggie kabobs and grilled fish (KC strips for the hubby), tons of fresh salads, strawberry EVERYTHING, and lots 'o lemons. I consume lemons year round, squeezing them in my warm water upon rising, mixing them in salad dressing and marinades, and drizzling over roasted fish. But they are much more accessible this time of the year, and I'm often able to find them at cheaper-than-dirt prices, such as 4-6 for $1.00 at the market. That's a stock-up price, and a stock pile means super tart lemon bars, brightly and lightly-sweetened lemon muffins, and my husband's favorite...lemon bundt cake. My husband does not have the sweet tooth that I was born with, but he will tear up some lemon cake, and fast!
So as much as I enjoy baking all these lemony goodies in the summertime, I DON'T love standing in the kitchen and sifting flour, creaming butter and sugar, and having more cleanup than necessary. I have walks by the river to tend to, and birds to watch, and neighbors' dogs to play with. Summer livin' is a full-time job, and I just simply have no time to be dealing with mindless distractions. So sometimes I need a little LESS time in my kitchen, and this ridiculously easy lemon bundt cake fits the bill. It is perfect for those days where hubby announces that so-and-so is stopping by for dinner, and you need to make triple what you had planned out for tonight's dinner, and oh, you KNOW they are going to be expecting dessert. This is why I ALWAYS have a few boxes of premium cake mix in my pantry. Being a pastry chef I prefer to bake from scratch and I LOVE creating my own recipes, but I claim NO SHAME when I need to do a little doctoring to Duncan Hines. Many of my current cake creations started out in the form of a doctored cake mix, seeing what would and wouldn't work without having to worry about cakes sinking in the middle or being too dry...less waste on more expensive ingredients.
Yes, this particular bundt cake celebrates its birth from a box. But its flavor is brightened up considerably with all those fresh lemons I was telling you about. I use tons of fresh zest for the batter, and the juice gets used if I decide to make a glaze (which I decided NOT to do this time since I had other plans for the remaining juice in the lemons). We also add some buttermilk for a SUPER rich flavor and to add tons of moisture, and a box of Jello pudding right into the mix to seal the deal! Yes, that's right! Dry Jello pudding...as in Mr. Bill Cosby, J-E-LL-oh! With this particular cake, I usually use lemon-flavored Jello pudding, but all I had on hand was vanilla. So I made do and added extra lemon oil/extract to draw out the fresh lemon flavor. And by the way, this cake is so impossibly moist that it would be a travesty to even THINK of putting a frosting on it. If you must...a simple glaze of lemon juice and powdered sugar will do. But it isn't really necessary. I think freshly whipped cream would be even better!
'Doctored' Duncan Hines Luscious Lemon Supreme Bundt Cake
- 1 Box of Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix
- 1 Box of Jello Lemon-flavored pudding mix (3.4 oz)
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 C. oil
- 1 C. buttermilk
- 1 C. water (or milk)
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 Tbsp. lemon extract (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Prepare your bundt pan with butter and flour or baker's spray. (I use Baker's Joy.)
3. Lightly whisk together the cake mix and pudding mix, or simply put it in your KitchenAid mixing bowl and on low speed, mix together for about 20 seconds.
4. Simply add in the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. It's going to look a little runny at this stage.
5. Put mixer on medium-high speed for an additional 2 minutes, or until the batter is smooth and has thickened up. (The pudding mix will do this, thicken up the batter despite all that liquid you just added.)
6. Pour batter into your bundt pan and bake until lightly browned on top and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. You need to allow the cake to cool off for a while in the pan. Because of all the moisture, it will be heavy. So it needs to hang out in the pan for at least half an hour before turning over onto a cooling rack At that point, you can dig in. But I advise cooling at least an additional hour so the cake will slice more easily.
It's incredibly moist and WILL fall apart if you do not allow it to cool properly.