In the evening just as the sun is setting and the family is gathering together, there is nothing like a springtime lemonade cake to finish off the day. This cake was inspired by a perfect Amarillo sunset. It's just the right shade of pink to capture the spirit of a Texas breeze over a wheat farm as the sun descends below the horizon. This Pink Lemonade Cake is one of the season's best and most requested. We wanted a cake that was moist with a tender crumb that was tart with lemonade flavor but still sweet. The frosting had to be made with butter to truly capture a good mouthfeel unlike the grease of a shortening frosting. Do not substitute margarine here or the flavor and texture will not be the same. We also wanted the frosting to really have a good lemonade flavor without tasting "fake" as is often the case with a lot of lemon extract, thus the use of the lemonade concentrate in the frosting. Our test kitchen staff agrees that this is by and far the best tasting lemon buttercream imaginable!
Baker's Tip: This recipe uses almost a full 12 oz can of frozen pink lemonade concentrate (thawed) between the cake and the frosting. It also uses almost a full pound of butter softened to room temperature between the cake and the frosting. It is helpful to plan ahead on these ingredients.
Amarillo Sunset Pink Lemonade Cake
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ¼ cup (11 oz) Texas Pure Milling All-Purpose flour, sifted
1 small box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pink or red food coloring, optional
Lemonade Buttercream Frosting
1 cup salted butter (2 sticks) softened at room temperature
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 tsp vanilla
Pink food coloring, optional
Optional: lemon slices to decorate cake.
For the cake:
Wash and sanitize hands, tools, and all work surfaces. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease 3- 9-inch cake pans lined with parchment.
In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, pudding mix, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
With the mixer on low speed add the softened butter a few Tablespoons at a time until the butter is fully incorporated, and the mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a separate medium bowl whisk together the eggs, pink lemonade, milk, lemon extract and vanilla extract.
With the mixer still on low speed, add the egg mixture, mix for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure the mixture is fully incorporating. Mix 2 minutes more. If desired, stir in a few drops of pink or red food coloring to create a light pink color.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
Bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Wash and sanitize all work surfaced and do not eat raw batter. After the cake is out of the oven, cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cake must be cooled completely before frosting.
For the frosting: In a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, powdered sugar, pink lemonade concentrate, and vanilla extract. Start on low speed for 30 seconds then increase to high speed whipping until fluffy. Add food coloring if desired.
Once the cake is fully cooled, ice with the frosting and decorate with lemon slices, if desired.