Test Kitchen Takeover! Try our new Lemonade Layer Cake

May 24, 2013 | By | Comments (11)

Take our Test Kitchen Takeover challenge and try both Lemonade Layer Cake recipes.

For an upcoming story, we’re cooking up some of our and your all-time favorite Cooking Light recipes to see if they hold up as is or need a little updating. As part of this process, we took an absolute fan favorite, our Lemonade Layer Cake from 2002, and dared to make it over! We like it much better, but we’d love to hear what you think.

Turn your kitchen into a mini Cooking Light Test Kitchen for a day! Make the original and the revamp (we’re giving you the recipe way in advance of the October issue where it will run), and let us know what you think. Which do you prefer, the original version or the new one? We’d love to hear from you: Leave us comments, and send us pictures or videos on Facebook, Instagram, or email us at letters@cookinglight.com.

Original Lemonade Layer Cake Recipe
New Lemonade Layer Cake Recipe
Hands-on: 25 min. Total: 1 hr. 10 min.

Our updated version of the 2002 cake uses a different kind of lemonade—powdered lemonade drink mix—for a zippier and tangier flavor. We shaved off a few calories from the original and decreased the sat fat, too.

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup powdered lemonade drink mix (such as Country Time original, not sugar free)
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
10 ounces cake flour (about 21/2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
Baking spray with flour

6 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon powdered lemonade drink mix
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare cake, combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed 3 minutes or until well blended. Add egg whites and egg, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 tablespoon rind. Beat mixture at medium speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Combine milk and buttermilk. Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

3. Spoon batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with baking spray; smooth tops with a spatula. Bake at 350° for 21 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

4. To prepare icing, combine cream cheese, butter, 1 tablespoon lemonade mix, 2 teaspoons rind, and juice in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add powdered sugar; beat 1 minute or until smooth (do not overbeat).

5. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup icing. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

SERVES 16 (serving size: 1 slice)

CALORIES 316; FAT 9.9g (sat 4.9g, mono 3.2g, poly 0.9g); PROTEIN 4.5g; CARB 53.4g; FIBER 0.4g; CHOL 34mg; IRON 1.7mg; SODIUM 238mg; CALC 66mg

Note: We recommend using a regular powdered lemonade mix, rather than a sugar-free mix.


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  4. Bethany Moore

    Regarding the powdered lemonade chagrin: Well, guys, it IS a cake…. I’m not sure that qualifies as real food in any case, but sometimes there’s a place for it at my house. 🙂

    May 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm
  5. Sandra Caldwell

    I made this cake and boooo…this was not a winner !! It was the strangest cake ? First off is the Country Time…you get the powder taste. The cake flour makes it heavy. Not enough sugar or real lemon added. And the buttermilk smell is in the cake. Now the Icing does not taste that good with the cream cheese also. My family did not like this one. And my hubby went to the store 3 time to get ingredients, that I forgot…LOL , And boy was he mad ! Lemon cakes are his favorite but NOT this one. Out of 1 to 10 ( 10 being tops) we rate this one a -1.

    May 28, 2013 at 12:08 am
  6. Sandra Niemer Powers

    I have to agree, NO lemonade powder mix or any other artificial garbage is allowed in my house!! Sorry, Cooking Light but you dropped the ball on this one. Give us REAL foods!!

    May 25, 2013 at 6:57 pm
  7. Beth Stone

    Don’t any of you people know how to cook? Does “Cooking Light” have to do everything? You can use a substitute for any of the items listed in the recipe, including the instants lemonade. So stop complaining!

    May 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm
  8. janicedoty

    I agree–lemonade mix is just not gonna happen in my house. I do use sugar but pretty much avoid anything not ‘real’ or fresh. Could you make a lemon ‘syrup’ to add the zing?

    May 24, 2013 at 7:31 pm
  9. Deidre Young Haines

    I agree with @MamasAdvice in regard to the lemonade powder. I wish Cooking Light would concentrate on lightening up recipes while still using REAL food and just lowering the amounts needed. Sugar makes us fat so when you simply substitute fake sugars, that’s doing no one any favors.

    May 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm
  10. MAMA’S ADVICE (@MamasAdvice)

    I have 1324 repins of this original recipe…But I did title the pin, “Lemmony and light, but lucious!” How could you resist looking at that? There is something about “instant” as in Countrytime “instant” lemonade that makes me cringe in using it for cooking, so I’m sorry to say, I won’t be trying the new recipe. I’m sure it’s tasty, though and I’ll be interested in what others say.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm
  11. Christine McCarthy (@OatmealBowl)

    *drool* Love lemon cake! >> YUM! Bet it would be tasty using greek yogurt, too.

    May 24, 2013 at 10:46 am

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