My Mom always made special birthday cakes for my sister and I when we were young. Lesley got a heart-shaped strawberry cake each year while I got a layered chocolate cake that is STILL the stuff of my dreams. Somehow I grew up and did NOT become that mother. I would rather spend a pile of cash to have someone else make my kids’ cakes than risk something dry and depressing. I have tried my hand at baking several times and THAT’S how it always ends up. Here’s a shot of my last attempt at a cake Martha Stewart called “The Easiest Cake Ever.” You’re not seeing things. That 2-layer cake was about an inch tall and tasted oddly of beef stew.
Fortunately, my kids are older now and LOVE getting store bought birthday cakes (their favorites come from Society Bakery), but my husband is a different story. See, he ALSO had a Mom who made special birthday cakes for him as a kid and knows how meaningful they are. I’ve been able to get OUT of making homemade cakes for him for years by using the BUSY-WITH-WORK excuse but…well, I can’t do that now.
That’s why I was relieved when Emma came home with a hand-written cake recipe from a friend. Her classmate Benne bakes cakes with her mother all the time and told my daughter about an especially tasty one. Emma wanted to bake it for her Dad’s birthday and I thought, “GREAT! If it sucks, we’ll just say there was something wrong with this kid’s recipe and I’ll be off the hook!” But guess what. It DIDN’T SUCK. It was awesome and delicious and so easy that even I didn’t totally screw it up. I had to vamp with the recipe because Emma had scratched down only the most BASIC directions, but here it is:
BENNE’S BEST LEMON-ORANGE BUNDT CAKE
You will need:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 box lemon Jell-O pudding mix
1 Cup cold water
1/3 Cup canola oil
1 Tbl unsalted butter
1/4 Cup orange juice
1 Cup powdered sugar
2 Tbl chopped orange zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your Bundt cake pan.
Combine your cake mix and instant pudding, then add the eggs, water and canola oil. Beat them on low for 30 seconds, then on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes (until the toothpick trick works), then let cool on a wire rack for 6-8 minutes. Take out of the pan and let it cool completely while making your glaze.
Melt 1 Tbl of butter, then beat with the powdered sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Poke holes into the top of your cake, then drizzle the glaze all over.
I can’t account for the weird, pockmarked LOOK of this cake (if you can fill me in, please do so in the comments) but it TASTED phenomenal. My husband even said it was the best Bundt Cake he’d ever tasted and he doesn’t give that kind of compliment easily. It was also so simple that my kids could make it, which they WILL next time.
I told Emma to tell Benne we loved her cake and want more of her recipes. Emma reminded me that Benne just HELPS in the kitchen and that all of the cake recipes actually come from her mother. While I respect that, I’m a sucker for a good story and will continue to refer to these as BENNE’S CAKES. I also promise to share any more recipes she delivers to us…as long as I don’t screw them up first!