Cheater’s Lemon Pound Cake

August 20, 2013
























 Just Write.


This isn’t the best picture of her, but I love it because it shows Miss M.’s mild tolerance for first-day photos, with just a pinch of “I’m over it,” thrown in for flair.

Miss D.? Don’t even ask.

Camo Girl was out of that dang door like quicksilver.

When we took Miss M. to back-to-school night, Miss D. paid a visit to her former teachers. She totally ditched us, and when we complained about wandering the labrynth of halls in search of her, she tossed her curly head, laughed and said,  “I just needed another moment with my fans.”


Photographic evidence of D.’s maiden trip to middle school? Zero. Point. Zero.

I was kind of upset about it, until I cracked open the photo albums of my past–my own forays into the educational abyss.

There is almost no evidence of my existence between grades 5-8.

No school-issue class photos, no posey vacation photos, no candids of me unless I appear in the background, darting so fast that I’m a blurry flash.

I’d forgotten about that.

I’d forgotten about the Internal Dictator. The one that invades your mind and body the minute you wake up with breasts. The one who declares you inadequate.

Now some of you aren’t going to get the Dictator. Some of you bloomed with grace and good timing. You were not a poster child for a Judy Blume novel. But many of us? Awkward. Everywhere.

Photos of me from age 11-14 went in the garbage, not the photo album, because I deemed every single shot of me “hideous.” I had braces and wonk hair (I never did outgrow wonk hair) and scrawny legs and one boob that grew faster than the other.  I wanted no proof of this in the familial archives.

But not to fret, dear Readers, because I won’t banish all photos of D. on this blog. As a matter of fact, it’s Hell day picture day for her on Thursday. God knows what kind of getup Camo Girl is going to choose for picture day. How many times will she over-lipstick?

A scary thought, because we are notorious for bad luck with picture day.

But my fingers are crossed and unless she looks like a total Yeti, I’ll ask if I can share it with you.

For today, I’m giving you Cheater’s Lemon Pound Cake.

It’s a tradition in our house to serve a special snack after the first day of school. Sometimes I’ll make ice cream, sometimes we’ll slurp smoothies, sometimes I bake.

But I don’t bake. Not really. I sorta kinda bake.

Okay, okay, I cheat. I am guilty of baking subterfuge.

Sue me.

But you won’t want to after your little lemon lovers taste this pound cake. It is blatantly NOT from scratch and yellower than Big Bird, but kids love it. Heck, Daddy-O, my #1 fan of all things lemon, deemed it yummy.  He likes it toasted for breakfast.

I like it because it’s so easy that I can whip it up in a flash and get back to my traditional First-Day-Hand-Wringing-and-Pacing regime.

Wishing you and all of your little school-bound hatchlings a kick-ass first day!

Cheater’s Lemon Pound Cake

makes 2 large or 3 small loaves

1 box lemon-flavored cake mix, such as Duncan Hines

1 box lemon-flavored pudding mix

1 cup water or orange juice (or even lemonade with a few shots of Limoncello in it for adults)

4 eggs

1/3 cup melted butter, slightly cooled

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest



1/2 cup sugar

about 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and flour two standard (or three small) loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, pudding mix, and water together. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the butter and lemon zest and beat until batter is no longer lumpy, about 1-2 minutes.

Pour batter into loaf pans, smoothing out the tops. Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


As cake bakes, combine the glaze ingredients and set aside so the sugar has time to dissolve.

As soon as you pull the warmed cakes from the oven, prick the tops with a toothpick. Pour glaze over cakes, spooning glaze evenly over the top.

Cool completely. Invert and slice.

*The cake slices very easily if you wrap the loaves in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for an hour or so before slicing.


**What was your favorite after school treat? Mine was, hands down, popcorn made the old-fashioned way (in a kettle with oil) with a drizzle of butter and lots of salt. YUM.





{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby August 20, 2013 at 8:46 am

Aww. That picture is adorable. You make cute things.

I don’t remember my favorite after school snack, but any kind of lemon cake reminds me of my grandma. She would make this simple cake, poke holes in it with a toothpick and drizzle a glaze over the top. I ate it once and complimented her on it, even though I didn’t really love it, and so she thought it was something I LOVED. She would make it all the time and I had to pretend that I did, but it made her happy ;)


Shannon August 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

I just dropped my youngest off for her last first day of elementary school. Next year I will start the middle school girl mom thing all over again. Hold me.
My mouth is watering for lemon pound cake, thank you very much. Now I just need to figure out how to zest a lemon.


TKW August 20, 2013 at 9:38 am


The best way is a microplane grater. You can get them in cooking stores and even hardware stores! I love mine!


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me August 20, 2013 at 10:37 am

She is too cute – love the face. Kidzilla does the same kind of stuff already. You know, I’ve been beating myself up for a week about the lack of photos of her at her Dad’s jazz gig for the first time. I didn’t take one. single. picture. of that experience. But after reading this I realized something – memories stay with us, no matter what. You remember lots of things (good and bad, photos or not) even without photo evidence. It occurred to me that the reason I didn’t take pictures was that I was busy splitting my attention between adoring my husband on stage and watching my daughter adore my husband and bop to the music. I will deal without the pics.

That lemon pound cake looks good to me. Love the after-first-day treat idea.


Arnebya August 20, 2013 at 11:03 am

I would like cake. And good lord she’s gorgeous.


Biz August 20, 2013 at 11:40 am

It’s funny, I told Hannah that she had to Instagram her first day of her senior year of college because I won’t be there!

Love the picture – thank you for sharing. It reminded me of Hannah’s first picture day – she was growing out her bangs, quite possibly the longest process in a young girls life. We pinned her bangs back, so cute! Until she got to school and the photographers assistant handed out combs. She took that as a sign that her hair wasn’t good enough, and combed her bangs out and you can barely see that she has any eyes her bangs are so in the way! We still crack up over that one though!


Jamie August 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm

You’re a good mommy for letting your girls pick their outfits on picture day! My mom was the same way. I used to hate pictures of myself from middle school but now I love to look back and laugh!! Holy frizz, eyeliner, and braces.


SuziCate August 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm

My aunt made the most amazing lemon cake EVER! My mother made one that I deemed not as good as my aunts…what a little piss ant I was. This is my mother’s recipe…I swore my aunts was “home made” -turns out my mom got the recipe from my aunt. Ok, so shoot me now!


TKW August 21, 2013 at 5:56 am

Suzicate, that made me laugh!


Tiffany August 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm

I’ll be lucky to get one back to school photo of gabe. And I hated (still do) all pics of myself back then! Miss M is divine…that caramel skin and thick hair!!


Katybeth August 20, 2013 at 8:42 pm

What a cutie! Good luck on picture day! I use to bribe picture mom to smooth my kids hair and give a spit bath if necessary.
Wishing you all a bestest school year.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri August 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I love that picture!

My favorite afterschool snack: a baked potato with cheese and jalapenos. I watched the Three Stooges while devouring my snack. When I was pregnant, the only thing I craved were my mom’s baked potatoes.


TKW August 21, 2013 at 5:56 am


Those DO sound crave-worthy!


Alison August 21, 2013 at 7:29 am

She’s beautiful!
I remember the days of early teendom. Awkward, capital A. Unfortunately I do have a few pieces of photographic evidence. Sigh.
I’m planning to make a lemon loaf! From scratch. :)


elizabeth August 21, 2013 at 10:08 am

M is like you–all photographic evidence of the early teen years has been stricken from the record (or at least as much of it as possible).

My favorite after-school snack was definitely pretzels and ginger ale, and there was definitely a period from when I was 7 or 8 until 12 or so when I would do so while flipping through the American Girl catalog.


Kristen @ Motherese August 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Miss M is gorgeous – just like her mama, inside and out.

And lemon desserts are the work of the gods. And lemon desserts that involve cheating? Truly divine.

Happy back to school, my dear friend. xo


Velva August 21, 2013 at 5:43 pm

As a tradition each year I stay home from work on the first day of school. My youngest son (10th grade) is far from needing me to do this but, I love doing it. I cook breakfast even had cupcakes when he got home (I do neither on any other school day except maybe statewide testing day)…He was prepared to let me take a photo and I resisted it…Damn, after this post wish I did. He will not be keen on the idea the rest of the year.
Love the lemon pound cake like the idea of toasting too, for breakfast.

Welcome back to the school year.


TKW August 22, 2013 at 5:43 am


We have special back-to-school breakfasts, too! This year we made ebelskiver!


Jennifer August 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I love lemon pound cake, and Ms. M is lovely. She looks back to school picture perfect.


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