Essential ingredients for my family’s lemon cake recipe, photographed on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Essential ingredients for my family’s lemon cake recipe, photographed on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Great-grandma’s lemon cake

It’s not much, but it’s also everything.

By Victoria Petersen

For the Peninsula Clarion

This recipe was developed by my great-great-grandma. She was a Danish immigrant who moved to Washington state when she was young. According to my grandma, she spent a lot of time deep-cleaning her kitchen and riding her motorcycle.

I’m not sure if she is the origin of other family recipes, but this recipe is by far one of the most sacred. Which sounds silly because it’s a box mix-turned-Jello-poke-cake. It’s not much, but it’s also everything. It’s the most requested birthday cake on my mom’s side of the family. There’s really nothing that exciting about this cake, but maybe that’s why we love it? It’s just a golden yellow sheet of unfrosted cake. But the cake is incredibly moist and super lemony because of the poke technique.

My boyfriend’s cousin is getting married this month. While we’re sad we can’t make it to the wedding, we helped create what we hope will be memorable gift for her and her soon-to-be husband: a customized recipe book filled with recipes curated from her family and his. My contribution was this lemon cake recipe, because it’s a crowd pleaser in a pinch. I also included my family’s Cornish pasty recipe, which I’ll feature in the coming weeks.

If you can make a box of cake mix, you can make this cake. It’s very easy. The hardest part will probably be finding lemon Jell-O, which can be sparse at stores for some reason. If you’re a little tired of fall and winter flavors (I am, slightly), then maybe this could be a lemony relief?

Great-grandma’s lemon cake

For the cake:

1 package of lemon cake mix — I use Betty Crocker

1 3-ounce package of lemon gelatin dessert, such as Jell-O

Eggs, per cake mix instructions

Vegetable oil, per cake mix instructions

Water, per cake mix instructions

For the icing

2 cups powdered sugar

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients — except the powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice — and beat with a spoon or using a stand mixer until mixed well, about four minutes.

Pour the cake batter in a greased cake pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on the top, and when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes up clean.

While the cake is baking, prepare the icing by mixing the powdered sugar with the lemon zest and juice until a runny icing forms.

Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven and poke small holes all across the cake with a fork. Pour lemon icing all over the cake, letting the sugary lemon juice seep into the holes.

More in Life

Several pages from David Brame's "After the Rain," adapted from Nnedi Okorafor’s short story “On the Road.” (Photo courtesy David Brame)
New Homer creator brings Afrofuturism to town

David Brame’s new graphic novel will be published in January

Friends of Elmer Gaede effect repairs to the doctor’s Maule Rocket airplane, which crashed a short distance from Forest Lane between Soldotna and Sterling on Aug. 2, 1967. The airplane was eventually made “fly-able” again and was sold in the early 1970s. (Photo courtesy of the Gaede Collection)
Dr. Gaede drops in, Part 2

By Clark Fair For the Peninsula Clarion Author’s note: This is Part… Continue reading

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: A guide to the seasons

Figuring out the signs of seasonal change is easy, right?

Essential ingredients for my family’s lemon cake recipe, photographed on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Great-grandma’s lemon cake

It’s not much, but it’s also everything.

A match latte is on display on Jan. 3, 2019 at Brother’s Cafe, in Kenai, Alaska.
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Something warm please

I’m normally not a warm drink person.

A row of dyed silk wall hangings shows how common Alaska plants found on the lower Kenai Peninsula can be used to make organic dyes, as seen here Tuesday. The hangings are included in Elissa Pettibone’s exhibit, “Swatches,” showing at Bunnell Street Arts Center in Homer.
Michael Armstrong / Homer News
‘Swatches’ explores art of organic dyeing using native plants

Pettibone finds magic in fireweed, other common plants

Dr. Elmer Gaede relaxes at home a few weeks after his airplane crash. His facial hair and glasses hide much of his scarring. (Photo courtesy of the Gaede Collection)
Dr. Gaede drops in, Part 1

Part 1 of a three-part story of a single-engine airplane crash more than a half-century ago.

Pepperoni pizza is ready to go into the oven, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Election night pizza

It’s a time-honored tradition to have pizza in the newsroom on election night.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: The race is on

Here we are 33 weeks later wondering how we are going to celebrate the grandest time of the year.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Keeping myself in stitches

The pandemic hit, and we all brushed off some skills we hadn’t thought about in a while.

A homemade nut mix takes on a sticky, spicy finish with a recipe from Anthony Bourdain, on Friday, Oct. 23 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion.)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: I’m going nuts

I’m enjoying the nuts while I work from home and occasionally daydream about the international travel

Nick VarneyNick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: 2020 — The Halloween Year

2020 has nixed Oct. 31 as the official observance of Halloween and hijacked the mantle as its own.