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That Cake's Not Right!

Before children, my husband and I lived in rural Rogers County (technically, Owasso) in a gray-rock, 1970s era Ranch-style house. I loved everything about this house and all of the memories we made in it.

Our family grew and what once seemed perfect and spacious quickly became cramped and uncomfortable once we added a baby boy and the burgeoning office of a busy moonlighting engineer.

The best feature of this house was the large galley kitchen with counter space galore. Many memorable parties, family meals, and holiday gatherings took place in that cozy kitchen. Since I love to cook, that’s where I spent most of my time. Once, I offered to host a Pampered Chef party for a friend who was just getting started as a consultant. I think I bought half of her catalog that day.

The best part about a Pampered Chef party is that consultants bring recipes to try. On the day of the party, my friend whipped up a Caesar pasta salad dish and a lovely veggie pizza. She also brought the recipe for a Lemon-Blueberry Cake. As I am prone to do, I read through the steps of the recipe. Halfway through, I said, “You do WHAT?” I was so taken aback by the instructions that I asked my friend, “Have you ever made this before?” She shook her head “no.”

This had to be a colossal misprint. The recipe starts with a regular yellow cake mix, any brand. You make the cake as directed on the box and then add the zest of a lemon (using the Pampered Chef Zester Tool, of course). Then, you boil water in a measuring cup and slowly add a package of lemon jello. After dotting the cake batter with fresh or frozen blueberries, YOU POUR THE JELLO MIXTURE OVER THE TOP OF THE CAKE BATTER!

My mother made beautiful birthday and wedding cakes. Indeed, everything I know about baking, I owe to her. She taught me not only how to make and assemble cakes, but how to frost and decorate them. Since she was the oracle of all things baked, we waited patiently for her arrival at the party. As soon as she walked in the door, I summoned her to the kitchen.

“Mom, have you ever heard of a recipe where you pour hot Jello over cake batter and then bake it?” She had not. My mother was very adventurous. She suggested that we give it a whirl. “What’s the worst that could happen? If it’s a flop, I’ll run down to Braum’s and pick up some ice cream. Your guests will not go without dessert!” Do you see why I loved my Mom so much?

mom and dadThis is a picture of my Mom and Dad with Gina and I in late 1972. My brother, Brad, came along in 1978.

So I made the cake using the exact measurements and directions. As expected, it looked terribly, disastrously wrong. I said a little prayer as I placed the big hot mess I’d made into the oven. I turned on the light and peeked into the little window of the oven multiple times to check its progress. When the timer went off, I was amazed to find that the cake looked and smelled luscious. The blueberries and Jello had sunk to the bottom and created an amazing jelly-like layer, while the cake itself rose to the top and made a lovely, sponge-like cake layer.

After allowing it to cool and sprinkling it with powdered sugar, I served this tasty (and very odd) cake to my guests, who said it was super-good.


Here’s the recipe for The Pampered Chef’s Lemon-Blueberry Cake:

1 yellow cake mix, prepared per directions on the box
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 c. water
1 package (6 oz.) lemon-flavored gelatin
Powdered sugar

Lemon-Blueberry-Cake-003Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cake as directed on box. Add lemon zest to batter and stir to combine. Pour batter into a 9×13-inch baking dish which has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the blueberries over the cake batter. Microwave water on HIGH until boiling. Add gelatin slowly to water and stir until dissolved. Pour gelatin over top of batter. (Yes, you read that right!) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar over top of cake.

Everyone who tries it, likes it and when I give the recipe out, it always comes with a warning about how weird the cake is going to look going into the oven. It saves me those unnecessary 9:30 p.m. phone calls when I’m trying to veg out in my pajamas with a glass of wine and the Real Housewives of Wherever (yes, I watch them all. As if I don’t have enough drama in my life, right?)

One last thing: you really must refrigerate any leftovers. It’s a very moist cake and will begin taking on the qualities of a science experiment if you leave it out too long.

My little galley kitchen in Owasso is now a distant memory. I have a nice big kitchen here in Claremore and it’s also Party Central. It’s the people who make a house a home.

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