Lemon Refrigerator Cake

December 10, 2010


When I was talking on the phone to Mama, planning our Big Fat Greek Thanksgiving menu, I told her that I was kind of at a loss where dessert was concerned. Actually, I’m always at a loss where dessert is concerned, which is why I usually try to saddle my guests with that burden. If you’re ever coming to my house for dinner, bring dessert, okay? Otherwise, you won’t get any.

“Baklava is the obvious choice,” I told Mama, “but I don’t really like it.”

“Baklava is nasty, disgusting stuff,” she said. “Dad hates it and so do I–too sweet.”

“Okay, that’s a strong vote for no Baklava. So what do we do? Pumpkin pie seems ridiculous.”

“Any kind of pie sort of seems ridiculous, don’t you think?”

Good point.

“This is stressing me out,” I told Mama. “You just pick something and bring it.”

That’s me: first-class responsibility shirker.

When Mama arrived on Thanksgiving, bearing an ancient, battle-worn 9×13 cake tin that we’ve owned as long as I’ve walked the Earth, I knew we were in for some sort of brownie or sheet cake.  However, when I peeked inside and saw puffy clouds of white and yellow, I got excited.

“You brought the Lemon Angel Food ThingamaBob! Awesome!”

And it is awesome. White Trash Motherlode Awesome.

I cut my teeth on this cake; it was a North Dakota church social staple. It’s not even technically a cake–although I think back then they referred to it as an “icebox cake.”  An icebox cake is basically a bunch of ingredients thrown together, chilled and then cut into wedges. It’s tastier than it sounds, I promise.

One thing I really like about Lemon Angel Food ThingamaBob–besides the fact that it’s lemon–is that it’s light as air. This is the perfect antidote to a heavy meal. You’ll feel like you’re eating fluffy,  citrus-y clouds.

Even my girls, who are notoriously picky eaters, gobbled this down (sans nuts and cherry).  The next time you have a heavy meal and a crowd to serve, try this. It’s White Trash Awesome.

Lemon Refrigerator Cake

serves a crowd

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin, such as Knox

1/4 cup cold water

3/4 cup sugar

6 egg yolks, beaten

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/4 teaspoons grated lemon zest

6 egg whites

1/4 cup sugar

1 large purchased Angel Food cake

Whipped cream or whipped topping

Soften gelatin in cold water, about 5-10 minutes. Combine egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Cook in a double boiler (or in a large bowl set over simmering water) until the mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon. Remove from the heat and add the softened gelatin; stir until dissolved. Cool until partially thickened.

Beat the egg whites until stiff; beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Fold the egg white mixture into the lemon custard mixture. Tear cake into bite-sized pieces; set aside half of the cake pieces.  Layer remaining cake pieces in a 9×13-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour half of custard mixture over cake. Layer remaining cake pieces over and top with the rest of the custard.

Chill at least 3 hours or until firm. Top with whipped cream or whipped topping and, if desired, chopped toasted nuts.

***If you’re feeling cheeky, check out this post from Bryan about his…ahem…Dealer. Naughty boy.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria December 10, 2010 at 7:27 am

I LOVE lemon anything…which might explain why life keeps handing me lemons…but I digress. This sounds heavenly. I might even try it for Nochebuena (Christmas Eve dinner for Hispanics). After roasted pork and a motherlode of all you can eat black beans and rice, this might just be what the doctor ordered!

By the way, I have the same reaction to desserts. Perhaps it’s because I am afraid of my arse getting any larger than it already is.

Your post yesterday at Story Bleed was heartbreakingly beautiful. What a gift you have!

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Rudri December 10, 2010 at 7:40 am

Lemon is a must in this house. My husband will love this cake, although I am a little scared of handling the gelatin.

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girlichef December 10, 2010 at 7:55 am

How fun! This totally reminds me of some of the desserts I grew up that my grandma makes :D Lovin’ the white trash overload.

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girlichef December 10, 2010 at 7:56 am

Okay, my wording up there totally sucks…but you get what I was trying to spit out, right? Sheesh.

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elizabeth December 10, 2010 at 8:28 am

I’m the same way with dessert–if I can find something really easy I’ll make it, but otherwise my guests are on their own. But to be frank, I’d really rather get wine and then just have some delicious chocolate after dinner–the ultimate no muss, no fuss!

I am fond of the icebox cake, however. :) And I’m so happy you got to have a turkey-free Thanksgiving!!

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Phoo-d December 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

Yum! This sounds great and perfect as a finish to a big meal. If I could buy Angel food cake around here I’d be making one today!

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Katybeth December 10, 2010 at 8:50 am

Yum! That looks so good My brother-in-law the gourmand brought over a Lemon Meringue tart .Perfect after a heavy meal.

I don’t do desserts either…I would rather eat lots and lots of bread! Or head over to one of Chicago wonderful and plentiful bakeries.

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Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday December 10, 2010 at 9:08 am

LOL “White Trash Motherlode”

It totally is what my sister and I call “white people food”. The sort of thing that I would be too embarrassed to bring anywhere but I consume without guilt.

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SuziCate December 10, 2010 at 9:56 am

I LOVE lemony goodness in desserts…this one looks beautimous!!!!

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Emily Z December 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

This does look good. And I was cracking up at the “White Trash Motherlode” remark as well. I would totally make – and devour – this.

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Jenna December 10, 2010 at 10:48 am

What a great idea, using a torn up angel food cake! It’s the fruit of a brilliant mind at work.

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Erica@PLRH December 10, 2010 at 11:16 am

So the egg whites don’t get cooked? Aw, what the heck! I like to live dangerously. As for dessert, it’s my favorite food group. I will definitely bring a large selection if I ever come over for dinner. Thank goodness my grandfather was a pastry chef!

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Barbara December 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

I’ve made it and practically eaten the entire thing. It’s disgustingly delicious! But then, lemon is a favorite of mine and who can resist?

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Mrs.Mayhem December 10, 2010 at 11:46 am

I love everything lemon, so I will be making this ASAP!

Like the “White Trash Awesome” category!

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Michelle December 10, 2010 at 11:59 am

Ahh, a taste of summer on a snowy day. Love it.

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bryan December 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I love the Potluck desserts like this… nothing like the Church Cookbook for a good dessert!

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Cheryl @ Mommypants December 10, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Frankly, you had me at lemon.

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Amy @ Never-True Tales December 10, 2010 at 7:22 pm

First off, what’s so wrong about pumpkin pie? I love it! :) Secondly, I also love anything lemon (wait…I love anything dessert…) but I’ve never had anything like this. It’s a midwest thing, yes? I will have to try it!

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Dana December 10, 2010 at 9:06 pm

White trash awesome is just the right thing sometimes. It’s too bad about the baklava, though. (I guess I’m somewhat alone on that one)

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Stacia December 10, 2010 at 9:54 pm

I could eat the heck out of some fluffy, citrus-y lemon clouds. It sounds like an edible Lemon Meringue Pie doll, whose scent I always wished they would make into a perfume. Mmmmmm!

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grace December 10, 2010 at 11:48 pm

the mere mention of baklava excites me, but i could also go for a lemon thingamabob. hey, beggars can’t be choosers, right? :)

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Chiara December 11, 2010 at 3:36 am

I’m like you, if no one brings dessert there will be no dessert on my table…

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Allison December 11, 2010 at 4:06 am

Love the name!! In New England desserts like this are called “Lush.” They’re all kinds of variations on pudding/gloppy food, cake in small pieces, and whipped cream layered together. Chocolate Lush, Peppermint Lush, Lemon Lush….but I gotta admit, Lemon Angel Food ThingamaBob and White Trash Awesome are MUCH better names!! We’ll add this one to our Christmas week menu.

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rbcamullen@altared spaces December 11, 2010 at 7:08 am

Lemons. Love to inhale. Adore the way they taste. Could gaze for hours. But when you do them up with angel cake and whip cream? I’m doing back flips. Does this make me white trash embodied?

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subWOW December 11, 2010 at 8:54 am

Hey hot stuff. Thanks for the lemon whatsitsname recipe. We at this household of picky eaters love lemony flavors. But do I have to use FRESH lemons? I’d think that if it’s in the WHITE TRASH category, the lemon extract should totally be called for, no?

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Biz December 11, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I love all things lemon – this looks amazing! Enjoy your weekend!

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Paula {Salad in a Jar} December 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Girl, you’ve been busy this week. Love the lightness and freshness of this dessert.

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Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon December 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Dear Kitch, I will be sending you the MasterCard bill when I have to go out and buy bigger jeans after eating Lemon Refrigerator Cake.

xoxoxo,
Wendi

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Amber December 11, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Wow! A dessert I can make! Could you make things any easier for me??

P.S. You are such a talented writer. I’ve been catching up on your posts and just read your Storybleed piece. Beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking. I feel in awe to even be your friend. (I’m serious about that.)

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Velva December 12, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Love it when it says “serves a crowd” Since I am white trash too, this cakes proves to provide me with double pleasure.

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Christine @ Fresh December 12, 2010 at 8:23 pm

This dessert has quite a sunshine-y touch with the lemons and the airiness of the angel food cake. Absolutely wonderful!

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Heather December 13, 2010 at 7:31 pm

My honey reads your posts religiously. I happened to be at the grocery store when she read this one. I immediately got a phone call with additions to my shopping list. She hasn’t had me make it yet but I’m waiting for the moment when she says “I need it NOW!!!” I fear this will be her latest addiction – the girl lives for my baking!

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Justine December 14, 2010 at 10:15 am

I remember eating an icebox cake from my past life (back when I was married to a boy from Small Town, America) but it had loads of vanilla wafers in it soaked in god-knows-what but I also remember enjoying it. Sometimes white trash is good stuff :)

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Kelly December 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm

I’ve never heard of an icebox cake. It looks delicious though!

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Ingrid December 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm

This looks delicious!!

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camilla January 13, 2011 at 8:16 pm

OMG!! Yum, I am making this for sure- anything with lemon and air is all god in my books….I can pretend my ass isn’t really growing after two plate loads, cheers!

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