Recipe Review

I Tried Jamie Lee Curtis’ Most Beloved Lemon Cake and It’s the Smartest Boxed Mix Upgrade

published Jan 25, 2024
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Lemon cake.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman

I love, love, love to cook. But, baking? That’s a different story. Sure, I love to eat baked treats, and I’m halfway decent at making sourdough bread. Yet when I attempt to make any kind of cookie, cake, or pie, my baking abilities are less than subpar. So when I come across a baking recipe that makes me question whether I should join some kind of televised baking competition, I hold onto it tight. And Jamie Lee Curtis’ favorite lemon cake recipe is one of them.

Okay, to be frank, this recipe probably wouldn’t qualify me for a television baking contest because…well, it uses pre-made ingredients like a boxed cake mix. But hey, the boxed stuff works really well, and Curtis’ take on the boxed cake is a massive upgrade that is not only scrumptious, but wildly successful for this non-baker. So if you’re like me and you can never seem to pull off a good homemade cake, this upgraded simple recipe will turn you into the kind of person that volunteers to make someone’s birthday cake.

Get the recipe: Jamie Lee Curtis’ Favorite Lemon Cake

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

How to Make Jamie Lee Curtis’ Favorite Lemon Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and make sure the rack is in the center of the oven.

Lightly (yes, lightly!) mist a 12-cup bundt cake pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Tap the edges of the pan to make sure the excess flour easily covers the entire surface.

Using an electric mixer, add a box (18.25 ounces) of yellow cake mix, a box of lemon gelatin (3 ounces), 2/3 cup of vegetable oil, 2/3 cup of hot water, and 4 large eggs in the bowl. Beat on low for one minute, then scrape the sides. Beat again for another two minutes on a medium speed, until the batter becomes thick and well-blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared bundt cake pan, making sure the cake is evenly distributed. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Place the cake (still in the pan) on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup of powdered sugar, the zest of one lemon, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. (This is about the amount that one lemon gives you.)

When the cake is cooled, drizzle spoonfuls of the icing on top of the cake. Decorate, slice, and serve!

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

My Honest Review

I’m not kidding when I say this is the first successful bundt cake I’ve ever made. Typically the bundt cakes I’ve attempted don’t come out so clean and perfect, but this one popped right out in that perfect shape, and I couldn’t contain my squeal of delight at that little plop.

The texture of this cake is absolutely perfect: spongy, airy, and it isn’t too wet or too dry. It cuts nicely and the slices aren’t crumbly. So basically, it’s the kind of cake you want to make if you’re looking to show off to all of your friends — or Instagram.

Now the taste is every lemon-lover’s dream. Like, really lemon-y. If you’re a fan of lemon cake, with a zesty lemon frosting, then this is for you. But if you’re not so into the puckery taste of lemon, I would recommend maybe opting for a simple vanilla icing instead. (Simply swap the lemon juice with milk in the recipe.) 

The icing for this recipe is also thin, so if you prefer a thicker frosting, I recommend opting to make something else. However, icing a bundt cake is a lot easier than frosting one (no need to use a spatula when you can simply pour it on), so keep that in mind. 

Because I’m more of a cake person than a frosting person, I really enjoyed this cake a lot. I ended up pairing my slice with some fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

5 Tips for Making Jamie Lee Curtis’ Favorite Lemon Cake

  1. Let the cake cool completely. While the recipe says to wait 10 minutes before icing the cake, I would let it cool completely. This way the icing doesn’t just seep into the warm cake, leaving you with a dry top.
  2. Place the cake on a metal cooling rack. Not just to cool it, but also for the icing! Line a piece of wax paper below the metal rack to catch the extra icing as you pour it onto the cake. This way you can easily scrape the leftover icing back into a bowl so you can do another layer of icing after.
  3. Make a thicker icing. If you want your icing to be a little thicker, add more powdered sugar to the bowl. Sprinkle in a tablespoon at a time until you get it to the consistency you like.
  4. Ice it in layers. This icing is pretty thin, so I recommend icing a few layers at a time. Using a third of the icing, ice the top of the cake and let it cool and harden slightly. Then repeat that same step two more times. 
  5. Top with extra lemon zest and slices. This cake is really tart and lemon-y, but if that’s your kind of thing, you may as well go all out with that lemon. Save some of the lemon zest from your icing and sprinkle it on top once you’ve finished. You could also add slices of lemon for extra decoration — or maybe even candied lemons!