Light Rain


Fruity cakes make for light summer dessert

By Maura Wery

When it comes to summer, heavy cakes aren’t exactly the go-to dessert. But with fruit such as strawberries and lemons in season, a lighter, fruity cake can be a delicious dessert stand-by.

I recently had two occasions to test some of these cakes.

Mother’s Day was the first. I bought my mom a southern style cookbook filled with recipes and desserts. It had a lemon cake recipe that sounded so good to my mother and me we just had to try it. It’s moist and light, and with two tablespoons of lemon juice and lemon extract, it packs some explosive lemon flavor.

It was so good my mom ended up eating it for breakfast on Mother’s Day morning. I made mine in a bundt pan, but you could do two 9-inch rounds, as well.

The second time I got to test one of these cakes was this weekend when I made a strawberry cream cake for a co-worker’s birthday.

It uses strawberry gelatin, cake flour, strawberry puree and Cool Whip frosting. Because strawberries are in season, they are normally on sale. I picked up a quart of them for about $3 at HyVee and used the extra strawberries that weren’t used in the puree to put on top of the cake.

The verdict from the office is that the cake was a home-run. Oh, and Bryan, the birthday boy, loved it as well.

The recipe for this cake called for three 9-inch cakes. Fortunately, that also works for a 9-by-11-inch pan. I’m not a great froster, so I decided a sheet cake would be easier. If you can frost, go for the three-layer one. It’s super fancy.

Strawberries and lemon are your only options for cake flavors, of course.

As we move toward summer, try cakes with other fruits. Cherries would be nice when they come into season. Blueberries, too. Whatever the case, these make show-stopping but light desserts that will please a crowd.

Lemon Cake



1 box yellow cake mix

1 package of lemon gelatin

4 eggs

3/4 cup apricot nectar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon lemon extract


For glaze

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar



Preheat oven to 350 degrees


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and use a handheld or stand mixer to beat vigorously for 3 to 5 minutes.


Put batter into a well greased bundt pan and put into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Turn out immediately after baking to cool.


Over medium heat, melt butter and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.


Once melted, add powdered sugar 1/4 of a cup at a time until all the sugar is mixed in.


Pour over cooled cake.


—From “Put a Lid on It: Casseroles, Comfort Food and Things We Take To Funerals” by Karlen Evins.


Strawberry Cream Cake



2-3/4 cups cake flour

2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups white sugar

1 3-ounce package strawberry gelatin

1 cup butter, softened

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup strawberries, pureed1 8-ounce tub of frozen whipped topping, thawed. Additional strawberries for garnish, optional



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Cream butter, sugar and gelatin together until light and fluffy.


Add in eggs one at a time.

Mix flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.


Add flour and milk to batter, alternating each until finished.


Add vanilla extract and strawberry puree to batter and fold in.


Bake in a 9-by-11-inch pan for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Once cooled, frost with whipped topping (or a tub of vanilla Cool Whip frosting) and top with sliced fresh strawberries.


— Adapted from

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