Transforming a Lemon Boxed Cake for a family Birthday gathering

So here is a post i’m sharing from my other blog My Easy Entertaining

I decided to share this one because it was a quick fix i did for a family get together.

My Aunt was turning 90 and the year before we had bought a lemon cake which she and her guests loved.

This year, we were planning a last minute get together and wanted to have a similar cake. With a little extra time on my hands and a little less cash in my pocket i decided to “tun mi han mek fashion” and made a boxed lemon cake into a great lemon almond cake.

Funny enough she and her friends liked it even more than the one bought the year before, and never knew it started as a cake mix Hope this post inspires you to try something similar!


It’s my dear Gran Aunt’s 90th birthday!

We are so happy to celebrate with her and she is sooo excited!

She is having a small get together at her house which we helped to plan and I will be making one of her favorite cakes a Lemon cake. Last year we bought one at the local mega store in a rush..but this year I decided to get It done at the last minute.

Although I do like making cakes from scratch, sometimes I go with a boxed cake when I am trying to save a few dollars or if I am pressed for time. Whenever using a boxed cake mix though I like to make it my own and jazz it up.

Depending on which cake mix I buy, there are a few things I do to transform them My easy entertaining-lemon almond cake cut

This time around I decided to transform my cake into a Lemon Almond cake :)

I add some milk instead of just water to make the cake have a richer taste (in this recipe I did 2/3 cup water and the rest in milk (the recipe called for 1 1/3 cups of water). You can swap all of the water for milk..but I was running a bit low myself  🙂

1. If the recipe is not advertised as being super moist, I add 1 large tablespoon of mayonnaise (remember mayo is made of eggs and oil so it helps to make the cake extra moist – for this cake I used Lemon Duncan Hines Moist cake mix so I skipped the mayo)

2.Tweak the flavors- by adding a flavoring or extract like I did (1/2 tsp of almond extract) you can make the flavor brighter. Other great options would have been to use orange juice instead of the water or a bit of lemon zest.

For other flavors of cakes any extract or liquor can make a great impact (instant coffee in chocolate cake makes the chocolatey flavor even richer and stronger) I also love to make tweaks to frosting. Personally I like whipped cream and light frosting for cakes but that’s a personal preference.

Most frostings are very dense, and for light cakes its best to have light frosting. For this cake I used a Betty Crocker whipped frosting. Because the frosting I used was whipped, it was already somewhat light, but I added a ¼ cup of milk (in thirds, not all at once) and folded it with a spatula to make it even lighter.

For other frostings that aren’t light keep adding a bit more than the ¼ cup of milk to make it even smoother and lighter. To this I also put ½ tsp of almond extract in the frosting, to carry over that almond flavor. Sadly I was out of lemons and limes (that’s what happens when you do things last minute!) but ½ tsp of lemon or lime juice would have given a good balance and mimic the flavor of the cake.

I assure you though I make was still pretty good! Toppings with or without frosting can also make a nice finish and should be complimented by the flavors in the cake. For this cake I toasted a bit of slivered almonds and spread it on the top. Toasting them brings out the flavor and makes them crunchy, thus adding another dimension to your cake bite!.

I sprinkled a pinch of sea salt when the almonds were slightly cooled and tossed them together before sprinkling on the cake to make the flavor profile pop even more. Be careful when toasting Almonds. The natural oils in nuts means you have to watch them carefully because they can burn quickly, but don’t skip this step.

Here is a video of how I made the cake even better and prepared and topped the cake

lemon almond cake my easy entertaining play pic

Other great toppings include fresh fruit. Sprinkle sugar on the fruit and let it stand.

This will allow the fruit to spring its natural juices and create its own syrup. Rum soaked fruits, canned fruit and preserves are also great. For very rich cakes, a light sprinkle of confectionery sugar may be just enough. Pour the sugar in a sieve and sprinkle over the cake. It makes a nice finishing touch and a small sweet bite at the top. To make a pattern, place cookie cutters on top of the cake before sprinkling and a light trace of the shape will appear (this is best with darker cakes because the shape shows up even more). Making a cake from a box mix doesn’t not have to taste pre made by

  1. tweaking flavor
  2. adding freshness
  3. making moister
  4. making richer

Enjoy! And feel free to add your comments and tricks

About the author


FAMILY. I had the privilege of growing up in a close Jamaican family. Holidays and birthdays always meant there was a dinner and at other times we would get together to enjoy good food and fun and later have our own gatherings ‘just because’.

And so my love for entertaining was developed and over time I learnt and developed tricks and methods to entertain those I love.