Calling all lemon lovers. . .help yourself to an easy and moist lemon cake
that starts with a cake mix!
Are you a fan of ‘doctoring the box’? I like using a cake mix for cakes or cupcakes as
the dry ingredients are measured and ready to go, cutting down on prep time.
With just a few substitutions, like swapping out the water for buttermilk,
subbing melted butter for oil and adding some flavoring like vanilla, or
in this case lemon, you improve the texture and make it more flavorful.
Topped with a glaze, homemade frosting or baked in a pretty pan,
no one would ever guess your cake started with a box mix.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information see my disclosure policy.
I started with a Super Moist Lemon Cake Mix.
A lemon syrup brushed on while the cake is warm, boosts
the lemon flavor and makes it extra moist!
I need another pan like I need a hole in my head :) but I couldn’t
resist this Nordic Ware Citrus Blossom Loaf Pan.
Alternatively, bake this cake in a 13 x 9 or (2) 8 or 9 – inch round pans or loaf pan of your choice.
Baking time adjustments can be found in the notes in the printable recipe below.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
15.25 oz. Super Moist Lemon Cake Mix, I used Betty Crocker pudding in the mix
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 large lemon, zested
I used some tips from King Arthur Flour to prevent Bundt cakes or pans
with an intricate designs from sticking, first used in my
Use melted shortening, rather than butter to grease your pan, as the milk solids
in butter can act like glue and cause the cake batter to stick.
Use a pastry brush to apply melted shortening to all the nooks and crannies in your pan.
Instead of flouring your greased pan, sprinkle it with granulated sugar!
Additional sugar on the surface of your cake adds a little sweet crunch and
is preferable to that layer of gunky flour that remains on your cake after baking.
The sugar will be in semi-liquid state while the cake is warm,
and allow your cake to slide right out of the pan!
Fill your pan only 3/4 full with your batter at least 1 1/2″ below the rim of the pan
to prevent your batter from overflowing.
Gently tap your pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
Nordic Ware Citrus Blossom Loaf pan has a 6-cup capacity, so there was batter left over for 6 cupcakes.
Baking times will vary depending on pans and your oven.
Oven temperatures vary widely, depending on brand, age, whether electric or gas
and it’s not unusual for an oven to run 5 or 10 degrees hotter or colder.
Preheat your oven at least 20 minutes and know your oven and its hot spots.
Use an inexpensive oven thermometer to monitor your oven’s temperature.
When using a new pan or recipe, always test for doneness on the early side.
Bake until toothpick inserted comes out batter-free, a few stray crumbs are fine.
The lemon syrup makes the cake extra lemony and moist!
Mix 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice with 1/3 cup sugar and heat until sugar is melted,
either on the stove or in the microwave.
Brush syrup onto warm cake, allowing the syrup to soak in before applying additional coats.
Serve the cake with additional lemon syrup if desired.
Alternatively or in addition, you can mix a lemon glaze using powdered sugar
and 1 – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, mixing until reaching desired consistency.
Don’t have buttermilk or want to buy some for just one recipe?
Here’s an easy buttermilk substitution:
To make 1 cup of buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup.
Top with whole milk to the 1 cup line.
Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 10 minutes,
until slightly thickened and you see small curdled bits.
'Doctor the Box' Lemon Loaf Cake with Lemon Syrup
- 6 cup loaf pan (I used a Nordic Ware Citrus Blossom Loaf Pan)
- 1 15.25 oz. box Lemon Cake Mix I used Better Crocker Super Moist Cake Mix/pudding in the mix
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup (I stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup buttermilk see substitution in notes
- 1 large lemon, zested
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Prepare pan by thoroughly greasing with shortening, using a pastry brush to evenly coat the all the details of the pan. Sprinkle sugar in pan to coat shortening on bottom and sides of pan, emptying excess sugar.
- Mix cake mix, melted butter, buttermilk, lemon zest and eggs in large bowl with mixer on medium speed 2 minutes.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, filling only 3/4 full to prevent batter from overflowing pan. Gently tap on a counter top to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake 43 – 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan before turning out onto wire rack to cool.
- To make lemon syrup:
- Combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan or microwave. Heat until sugar is dissolved.
- Brush lemon glaze evenly over the cake with a pastry brush while the cake is still warm, allowing syrup soak in before applying a second layer and third layer. Serve cake with additional lemon syrup if desired.
- Fill your pan only 3/4 full with your batter at least 1 1/2" below the rim of the pan to prevent batter overflowing pan. Remaining batter will make 6 cupcakes using a muffin tin.
Alternative method of greasing 6 cup loaf: Use baking spray containing flour, such as Baker's Joy and use a pastry brush to evenly coat the all the details of the pan. Do not use a regular cooking spray as it tends to leave a sticky residue on the pan, causing cake to stick.
Alternatively to lemon syrup make a lemon glaze with 1 – 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice mixed with 1 cup powdered sugar. Mix sugar with lemon juice, adding 1 tablespoon of juice at a time until desired consistency. Pour glaze over top of cooled cake. Double amount of glaze if desired.
- Buttermilk substitution: Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Fill will whole milk to 1 cup line. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes, until slightly thickened and you see small curdled bits.
- Know your oven or invest in an inexpensive oven thermometer. Oven temperatures vary widely, depending on brand, age, whether electric or gas and it’s not unusual for an oven to run 5 or 10 degrees hotter or colder. Preheat your oven at least 20 minutes prior to baking.
- Alternate pan sizes and baking times: Bake at 350°F for shiny metal pan or glass pans / 325°F for nonstick pans. Shield top of pan with foil to prevent overbrowning if needed during last 10 minutes of baking time. 13”x9” or Two 8” Rounds : 28-33 minutes Two 9” Rounds: 24-29 minutes Bundt®: 38-43 minutes Cupcakes: 12-17 minutes If using a 9×5 inch loaf pan which holds 8 cups of batter, baking time will be closer to 1 hour.
Find a reader favorite and another ‘Doctor the Box’ recipe,
Carrot Cake from Spice Cake Mix, HERE.
As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase anything through an affiliate link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Thank you for your visit, sharing with: