Is this the way Starbucks makes lemon cake?

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Chiot’s Run

Many of you may not know this, but I love to cook.

My passion for cooking started when I was a little girl.

Every other morning, nana would march into the kitchen, don her apron, and take out the ingredients to make bread.

Nana allowed me to observe as she carefully measured the flour, prepared the yeast, and kneaded the dough.

“Bella,” she would say, “I’m convinced heaven must smell like freshly baked bread.”

Unfortunately, my love for cooking instantly waned when I moved into my new home and saw how tiny the kitchen was.

No longer did I have spacious counters, powerful appliances, or a double sink.

Instead, I had a counter top large enough to hold a bowl, a single sink, and a small convection oven.

Nevertheless, there are days, special days, that prompt me to ignore my limited resources and bring out the mixing bowls and measuring cups.

Today was one of those days.

After spending three hours preparing our humble Easter feast, the Son said to me, “Mom, do you know what I’d love to eat?”

Praying he’d say a bowl of ice cream, I heard him whisper, “Lemon cake. A slice of lemon cake; like the one they sell in Starbucks.”

I felt my blood pressure rise as I thought how I’d just spent an hour washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

However, what mother can say no to her son when he makes a whispered petition and puppy dog eyes?

Out came the pots and pans, the ingredients, and a copycat recipe for Starbucks’ lemon cake.

I spent the next hour sifting cake flour, warming eggs in hot tap water, and grating the zest of four lemons.

As I painstakingly removed the flesh from the quartered lemon slices, I winced painfully as lemon juice squirted into my eye.

I hurriedly reached for a rag and accidentally knocked over the bowl of sifted flour.

Clamping my mouth shut to prevent a barrage of profanity from spilling out, I rummaged in the closet for the dustpan and a broom.

However, still partially blind, I tripped over the mixer cord and landed in the sea of flour I had spilt minutes before.

I got up slowly, dusted the flour from my clothes, and recited Psalm 23 out loud.

With newfound determination, I pulled out a fresh apron, cleaned the tiny counter, and started over.

As I carefully sifted the dry ingredients for the second time, I called out to the Son.

“What is it, mom?” I’m chatting with So and So!”

“And I may have lost forty percent of my vision. Come here!”

As he walked into the kitchen, I heard him say, “What the hell happened here?”

“Your wannabe Starbucks lemon cake happened in here. But forget about that and look at me.”

“Do I have to? You look like the Pillsbury Boy sneezed on you.”

“Yes. Yes, you do because I want you to make a memory. I want you to look at me as I prepare homemade lemon cake.”

I heard him laugh.

“That’s right. In ten years, when your wife is using boxed cake mix, or worse, serving you store bought cake, I want you to remember your mother’s lemon cake.”

“But I haven’t even tasted it!”

“That’s not the point. What’s important is that I took a lemon squirt in the eye that hurt more than giving birth to you.”

“Here we go.”

“Bup, bup, bup! I want to hear you say that never again will you look at lemon cake without remembering this moment.”

“How about, never again will you hear me ask that you to make lemon cake?”

“That works too. Now hand me a lemon.”

Happy Easter, everyone!


73 thoughts on “Is this the way Starbucks makes lemon cake?

  1. You had me at lemon. I love anything with lemon but one of my favorite, favorite things to eat is the lemon cake at Starbucks, with that delicious icing. How sweet that your son asked you for it. I would have melted had it been my son. And what a wonderful, amazing mom you are to make it from scratch and take the punches that come along with it (lemon squirts, if you will). Great story of love and devotion that so many of us feel for our kids. Hope the son adored his lemon cake. As for me, I can almost taste it. ;)

    1. Monica, I too am the lover of lemons! I love everything about them, all the way from their color to the way they smell. I love the lemon cake from Starbucks and I have to say mine turned out quite good. Next time I might put in less lemon, though. I was sure to grate the zest carefully as to not get any of the pith in the mix, but it still turned out a bit too pungent for my taste. Hay Dios mio! Hopefully, the next time I make it, things won’t turn out quite so drastically! hee hee! Thank you for your kind words, Mon! :)

  2. Bella–what a disaster, knocking over the flour and all. You paint such a funny picture. I would have GIVEN UP after the flour spill and lemon in the eye, but kudos to you for persevering. You got grit, girl!! Hope the Son wrapped his arms around you and gave you a big kiss for your effort.

    1. Jann, I’m always delighted to provide you with a chuckle! Trust me, I almost gave up too. I think it was only the fact that it was Easter that kept me going–that and the look on the Son’s face when he asked for the darn cake! Fortunately, my efforts were rewarded with a hug and kiss! And that makes everything worthwhile! :)

  3. I think it’s OK to swear while making lemon cake. Hugs. I cannot believe the nightmare you just endured. The floor was bad enough…but the tripping over the cord? That’s just sad. Can I do a redo for you? I knew you’d say yes.

    First if you’re devoted enough to make a cake from scratch you’ve got to take care of your self. I think you might have needed more back up for the project. Making a a crazy ass lemon cake can be as hazardous as giving birth. Remember to breath.

    You need to make the lighting just right – a candle.
    Then you need the mood music – what would be good for lemon cake? I think anything, as long as it is timeless, any of the jazz greats.
    Next, a glass of wine.

    See, you want to fall head over heals in love with the process…you want the lemon cake to woo you. I think this can be accomplished in a small kitchen.

    This is how I cook. It’s also how a lot of people set the stage for a night of passion. Good lighting, music, wine… romance with the self in the kitchen. It’s gets ’em every time.

    1. Patrice, you’re such a rock star! We should all be like you! Really. I want you to know that I’ve taken note of your suggestions and will be sure to incorporate them into my next meal preparation or the next time I have to set the stage for a night of passion! hee hee! WOuld you believe tripping over the cord also resulted in the mixer falling? Tonight’s fiasco would have made the screenwriters of National Lampoon proud! Now that I read over your suggestions, I realize the wine would have helped. Totally. I should have consulted you before embarking on this endeavor! hee hee! Thanks for chiming in, lady! I so appreciate it! :)

    2. I can’t even think about you and that mixer falling…it’s hurting me. I hope you’re not too bruised up. I usually just cut myself, fingers, and burn my hands. My fear is I will absentmindedly stick my hand in the garbage disposal one of these days. Did you ever finish the cake? My favorite lemon dish was the lemon filling on my mom’s lemon meringue pies. I loved that stuff.

      I hope you had a good day with The Son. My daughter drove on the freeway for the first time – with her driving instructor. We didn’t dye eggs this year and boy does that girl have an attitude. Bella, help!!!! She is seriously stealing my mojo. I try so hard but she’s just so so so so 16!!!!! ;(

    3. Patrice, I too have always worried about the food grinder! Oh my goodness, the things we absentminded women have to worry about, eh? I did finish the cake and it turned out quite well. Next time, I think I’ll add less zest and lemon juice. It had a bit too much “bite” for my taste. The Son and the Significant Other didn’t seem to mind, though, so that’s good! Oh, oh, sister, 16 is a difficult time for a mother. I still remember when the Daughter turned that age and I’m convinced it’s the reason I got premature gray hair! hee hee! As for driving, that’s another stressful endeavor. Thank goodness you’re employing a driving instructor. I was not able to teach the Daughter how to drive. She drove me nuts with her habit of braking at the slightest thing. Even now, I dislike getting in a car with her. She drives too fast and talks on the cell phone at the same time. I can only pray for her and avoid riding shotgun! ha! What do you mean, no egg dyeing this year?? I haven’t dyed eggs in at least 12 years. Every time I think of the last time we do so, I sigh. How quickly time passes, friend! Keep the faith, this difficult stage in your girl’s life is only transitory. You’ll see, once she turns 22, the Universe will right itself and all will go back to normal! :)

    4. thanks Bella. Oh, I’m hungering for that cake now. I love alotta lemon. OH, yes, the daughters…you’re right, it will all be OK. It’s all good. I’m gonna go drink a glass of wine and think about cake. Be well.

    1. Elizabeth, you don’t know how much it means to me to have your support on this! I wonder if he’ll ever be able to take as good a care as I provide him with! hee hee! :)

  4. ~~~~My heart is overflowing with delectable words & the lovely scent of lemon cake, Sweet Bella.

    Your son will FOREVER & Always remember YOU <3

    …as I will.

    Stunning piece of writing. Happy Easter, Dearest. xx

    1. Kim, thank you for your sweet words, lady. They always make me smile! I hope you’re right and that the heir to my debt will remember me fondly. A lot of times I ask him, remember such and such time when we did such and such thing, and he looks at me with a blank face and says, “Not really.” Argh! I want to think he says this to irritate me and not cause he truly doens’t remember. Nevertheless, I’m taking your words to heart and keeping the faith. I’m delighted you liked the post! Happy Easter, sweet Kim! xoxo :)

  5. Oh his poor future wife to be. Good for you! I’m sure i’ll do the same with my little guy. I’m with your nana on the bread thing, heavenly. And 3 hours in a kitchen doesn’t sound humble it sounds like a feast. Happy Easter.

    1. Una, I am certain that you will do this and more for your little guy! I love the smell of freshly baked bread, lady. Even when I buy French bread, I love to stick my nose in the bag and inhale! They should bottle the scent! hee hee! After a couple of hours, it felt like torture. Trust me. ha! But the men that share my abode more than made up for my level of fatigue by voicing their approval. Happy Easter, friend! :)

  6. Bella, Bella, Bella – only you could make me laugh over the drama of making a lemon cake! My son LOVES lemon anything, but most especially cake. I am going to send him the link to your post here so that if I am EVER dumb enough to attempt to make him one again, he really appreciates it.

    1. Nan, I’m tickled pink to have made you chuckle with this post! I’m honored that you would send your son the link. Lets think of this action as a way to create awareness. hee hee! These young people have to be reminded of the trouble a mother goes through or they take us for granted, lady! :)

  7. I love the Starbucks lemon cake! Actually I love lemon cake in general. But that one is so good. By the way, Ina Garten has a fabulous lemon cake recipe. It never fails me!

    1. Leah, I’m a lover of all things lemon as well and Starbucks lemon cake really is one of my faves. I will definitely check out Garten’s lemon cake recipe. Thanks for the heads up! :)

  8. I took a very IMPORTANT decision now: I will never again read your posts when I’m at work, in the office. My Boss came from the other room just to understand what was happening in here!! I’m not joking!! I was laughing loud as i wasn’t just reading, but I could see you covered with flour, with a white serious face and grey hair.
    I LOVE IT!!!!!

    1. Nikky, did this post get you in trouble? :) You can always direct your boss to my blog! hee hee! I’m delighted to have provided you with a good visual and a laugh, lady! Thank you for your kind words! :)

  9. Oh, Bella! LOL and :: hug :: … What a wonderful (and funny!) mother you are to go to such great lengths with a less than ideal situation. “I want you to make a memory…” :-) LOL

    Happy Easter!

    1. Ellen, what a night last night was! I think I shall never forget Easter 2012 which means I too have made a memory! hee hee! I hope you had a wonderful Easter! Hugs to you, friend! :)

    1. Ivana, I wish you were in the neighborhood! You would be most welcome to join us for a slice of lemon cake and some coffee! :)

  10. Oh Bella … you’ve done it again. What a hysterical post! I am so glad that you immortalized the memory by pointing it out to your son: “I want you to never look at lemon cake without remember this moment!” I loved it!
    I have a Latvian baked yummy that I only make once a year – at Christmas – for that very reason: I want them to appreciate. I am now channelling Artha’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T song this very moment!

    1. Astra, your Latvian baked yummy sounds wonderful! I’m glad you only make it once a year and thus, pave the way for your children to really appreciate the trouble you go through to make them such a treat. I should have had Aretha playing in the background but alas, I had Carlos Santana crooning “Black Magic Woman” and trust me, the flour made sure there wasn’t a visible spot of black on me! hee hee! I’m thrilled you liked the post! :)

  11. Ouch! Ah, the things we do for our kids to create memories…most of which they don’t even notice, or at least, we think they don’t.

    In my family, I’m the only one who likes lemon in anything, so I don’t have to worry about getting juice squirted in my eyes! However, I am good at knocking things over, even with a larger kitchen. I am definitely not a tidy cook.

    Fun post as always, Bella! Thanks!

    1. Nadine, it must be wonderful to trip over things in a large kitchen! hee hee! I want to believe that what you say is true and that kids do notice the things we do for them. Half the time I spend with the Son, he seems preoccupied or detached. I think this is why I made him come into the kitchen to witness the lemon cake debacle! ha! I’m delighted you liked the post, lady! Thank you! :)

  12. I’m sure your lemon cake is MUCH better than Starbucks…you should send me some! You know, just so I can prove I was right….ha ;D I doubt he’ll be able to forget this wonderful memory. Great read and now I’m craving lemon cake and coffee…

    1. Nate, I’m just like you! I read about food and suddenly I’m overwhelmed with the worst cravings! ha! I wish I could send you a slice of my lemon cake! It turned out quite well and today the Son took what was left to share with some friends. He came home and said, “The guys loved the cake.” Ah, it’s so great to be appreciated! :)

  13. Make lemonade darling! I have no time to cook with all of this writing and reading and haling going on. No really if my children ask me, i totally do whatever they want! I love lemon cake.

    1. Jodi, something tells me you’re a beautiful softy of a mother! I love it! I read your comment and thought of the old adage, “When life gives you lemons…” My sister sent me a modified quote on the subject that says, “When life gives you lemons, squirt them in someone’s eye!” ha! Having experienced the pain of a lemon squirt, I’m wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I love lemon cake too! :)

  14. You’re a good mom. I despise baking, too many rules to follow. I love cooking too, but savory. I would have opted for a cake from the bakery. You could have slipped it onto a plate and said here sweetie…. On an unrelated note, I love anything lemon though. I’m afraid to try the lemon bread at Starbucks for fear I’ll become addicted.

    1. Brenda, and addicted you will become! It is delicious! After all the work of baking my lemon cake, maybe it’s better to go out and buy a couple of slices of Starbucks’ cake and do what you suggest! If only they weren’t so darn expensive! hee hee! I love baking. I just wish I had a bigger kitchen! :)

  15. Oh, this was priceless! Absolutely priceless!!! I can so picture it. And to have him see you in your ‘cake-making dust-up’. Why oh why didn’t I think of that during one of my many baking disasters? Loved this post!!!

    1. Diane, thank you! Your praise has truly made my day! You should have seen my black clothes after I took the spill! Serves me right for wearing black when I’m going to bake! I’m thrilled you liked the post! :)

    1. Renee, they should have included “taking lemon squirts in the eye” in the mom manual! hee hee! I hope your Easter was wonderful! :)

    1. Corinne, I couldn’t let you see me in such a state! Then all the allure I’ve tried to cultivate would be gone! hee hee! What I regret not doing was taking a photo of the lemon cake. But it was night and my point-and-shoot doesn’t fare well in low light situations. I’m jotting down your petition, however! Hugs for you, sweet lady! :)

    1. Nora, you too have a tiny kitchen? My heart goes out to you if that’s the case. They’re the perfect set up for disaster! hee hee! I’m delighted to have tickled your funny bone! :)

  16. What a funny, delightful story, Bella! If we can go years between bicycle rides and still remember how to do that, how come cooking is something that works out best with regular practice?? How sweet of you to melt in Son’s puppy dog eyes and try (twice!) to fulfill his request? The things we moms do for our kids! Hope your vision is back to normal, Lady!

    1. Debbie, a cold compress and mosturizing eye drops worked wonders! Indeed, friend, the things we do for our children! Yet I must confess that perhaps in the future, when I remember this experience, it’ll take more than puppy dog eyes and a whisper to convince me! Thank you for your kind words, lady! :)

    1. Would you believe I grated the zest in the living room? It’s a good thing that my “klutzyness” didn’t tamper with the lemon zest! Now that would have been tragic!

  17. Oh my gosh lemon cake. It’s my absolute favorite!! My mom & I are really the only ones who enjoy it in our family, so we don’t get to make it that often.

    1. Kirstin, there’s two you so that trumps the rest of the party who doesn’t like lemon cake! Come on, be inspired and bake you and your mom a lemon cake! :)

  18. Where’s the recipe for the lemon cake? and where are the photos of said lemon cake? I won’t believe it was made unless there’s proof! (See how I just ignored your temporary lemon-induced blindness?) I love lemon in anything (ok ALMOST anything) but my husband isn’t a fan, which means, no lemon-flavored pastries in my house because i like to bake but not eat what I bake. Weird, no?

    1. Laura, I find I don’t eat what I bake until the next day. Somehow I’m under the impression that baked goods always taste better the second day. You’re going to hate me but I did not take a photo of the cake. My point-and-shot doesn’t do well in low light situations and I absolutely hate using the flash. I will make sure to bake the next one in the daytime and take a photo of it just for you! In the meantime, here’s the link to the recipe. It’s a little lengthy but worth it!
      And I say go ahead and bake the lemon cake and take it to work. Maybe then you’ll feel motivated to have a slice! :)

    1. I can’t wait! Give me a heads up if you know in advance you are inclined to make some! I will be on my way and beating at your door before it is out of the oven! HEHEHE

  19. This is my first time visiting your blog and I have to say I completely enjoyed myself here :). This story was wonderful.. and I will admit I would’ve probably let profanity slip out of my mouth lol. Great post

    1. Kay, hello and welcome! How wonderful that you liked the post! I’m delighted! Trust me, it took all my will power (perhaps the fact that it was Easter?) to keep me from activating a potty mouth! hee hee! I hope you’ll drop by again soon! :)

  20. Hilarious and I love that you’re actively preserving a memory of yourself. Whenever son finally has a place of his own, you should definitely gift him a lemon tree, even if the climate isn’t exactly right. He’ll always think of you – win win!!

    1. Lori, I love your idea of giving the Son a lemon tree! I think I might work on a sketch of a bowl of lemons for his kitchen as well! Oh dear. Now you’ve got me thinking of ways to fill his house with lemons and he hasn’t even moved yet! hee hee! :)

    1. Sulekha, thank you! Our Easter was quite nice. How was yours? I’m so happy you liked the post. And I’m always happy you drop by! :)

    1. Yen, you are a sweetheart! My heart grows twice its size with your sweet words. I do believe the Son is very much like me. At least he has my sense of humor! hee hee! I’m tickled pink you liked the post, lady! :)

  21. Too funny! Your son better have that memory imbedded in his mind forever. And I think heaven must smell like freshly baked bread too.

    1. Kristine, my nana would love to hear you say that heaven must smell like freshly baked bread! I think the Son knows better than to not remember his memories. And if he does, I’ll remind him of that lemon cake every day till he does! hee hee! :)

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