Did you guys have church potlucks when you were growing up? Or do you have them now? I think you might remember that I grew up in very small town and once a month our church would have potluck lunch. Everyone would bring a dish to pass and we would all gather in the Church Hall after Sunday School invited by the smell of fried chicken and casseroles warming in the oven. As a kid this was the best, because you got to sit with your friends, and could try a little bit of everything and you got go back for seconds (on dessert, too!)
It’s no surprise that the dessert table was my favorite to peruse. All of the cookies, bars, cakes, puddings, and brownies were so beautifully arranged and prepared with loving hands. It was a sight to behold. But my favorite cake was one made by a woman named Nancy. A white cake swirled with ribbons of pink and topping it all off: heaps of Cool Whip. It was always chilled and melted in your mouth and I couldn’t help but get a second slice! At the time I didn’t know it had a technical name (to me it was simply “delicious wonderment”), but later in life I would learn it’s true name: Poke Cake.
I bring this up now because I was recently at a church event and there was ::gasp:: poke cake! The same exact kind: white cake, pink ribbons, Cool Whip. I was so excited! I hadn’t had it in years! And there it was, so pretty and delicious and cold and moist and…now my mouth is watering. I had two pieces. I don’t regret it. I’m not even remotely embarrassed.
After reliving a moment in my childhood, I decided I would recreate this memory in my own home (and for you, my readers). But I wanted to add some pizzazz to it! It’s still the same old Poke Cake (simple and delicious) but with some jazzed up flavors for summer.
I happened to have a lemon cake mix (yes, this a cake mix recipe and don’t try to change it! It won’t be as good!) and some lime jello so I put them to good use. You just need to follow the directions on the box to make the cake. (I did a two layer version – but it works so much better in a 9×13 cake pan.) Once the cake is out of the oven and cooled slightly, you poke it with a fork (hence the “poke” in the title) but not all the way to the bottom, just about half way through. Then you pour the jello mixture over the cake concentrating on the holes you just poked. After every last drop of the jello has been poured onto/into the cake, you have to refrigerate this bad-boy for about three hours (oh the waiting!!!). When it’s all set up you top it with Cool Whip (ya, know the stuff in the tub). But had a better idea…instead of Cool Whip, I wanted to make real whipped cream (nothing quite like it) and spike it with zest and…wait for it…marshmallow fluff (insert applause here). Yep. I totally went there.
Now, I could write for days about how good this cake is (trust me, I could) but that would only make you jealous,so I won’t. I’ll just go on for few sentences. The cake is unbelievably moist and sweet and tart all at the same time. A real otherworldly taste. But the whipped cream topping is what really brought everything together. As I said before, there is just nothing quite like real whipped cream that you’ve whipped up yourself. And when you spike it with complimentary flavors (extracts, zests, liqueur), it makes ANY dessert a glorious, kick-yourself-in-the-face, call-momma-and-tell-her-you-love-her, kinda moment of greatness. Yes. It’s truly that good. I am not exaggerating at all, friends.
The thing to remember about this cake is that it best (yes, its very best) when eaten cold. If you’re going to make it and bring it to a picnic, potluck, family gathering, make it the day before and let it sit overnight in the fridge. It’s incredibly refreshing and so yummy for adults and kids alike. You won’t regret it. But you will regret only making one…so make two. One for the picnic and for you.
And don’t be afraid to mix up the flavors! I can think of so many flavor combinations I’d like to try next: Dreamsicle (white cake with orange jello and marshmallow whipped cream), Italian Cherry-Bomb (yellow cake with cherry jello and almond whipped cream), Tropical Delight (banana cake with pineapple jello and coconut whipped cream, with perhaps some Malibu Rum in the jello and toasted coconut on top?). I mean, come on people! I’m dying!! I need to end this post now and just go try these new flavor combos.
Let me know how your Poke Cake turns out and what flavor adventure you choose! I’m dying to hear the results!
Until next time,
The Blushing Baker 😉
Lemon-Lime Poke Cake
1 box of moist type cake mix (any flavor) – prepared as instructed
1 3 oz box of jello (any flavor)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
8 oz heavy whipping cream
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 cup of marshmallow fluff (1/2 of a jar)
1 cup of fresh, sliced strawberries (optional, but delicious and pretty!)
Follow instructions for the baking the cake mix that you choose, preparing in the method for a 9×13 pan. Once cake is baked, cool for 10-15 minutes.
While cake is cooling, prepare the jello mixture by dissolving package of jello in 1 cup of boiling water. Once fully dissolved, stir in 1/2 cup of cold water. Set aside briefly – do not refrigerate as the jello must remain in liquid form.
Poke the top of the cake at 1/2 inch intervals with a fork only penetrating about half way through the cake. Pour jello mixture over the top of the cake, concentrating on the poked holes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
In the meantime, Add 8 oz of cold heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar to a chilled bowl. Whip on medium with an electric hand mixer until firm peaks form. Add the zest of the lemon and lime and marshmallow fluff to the whipped cream and fold in until well combined. Chill until cake has set.
Frost fully chilled cake with the whipped cream topping and top with strawberries. Enjoy immediately or chill overnight. Keep leftovers (if there are any) refrigerated.