Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Inspired This Beautiful Tropical Island 'Cake'

Sandra Lee, Semi-Homemade doyenne, cockatoo owner, and former paramour of Andrew Cuomo, feels relevant once more, thanks to a looming recession, stay-at-home orders across the country, and the fact that Americans are soon going to have to get very creative with the food we have in our pantries. Though I will never forgive her for the Kwanzaa cake nor the ice-cream baked potato that unfortunately resembles a vagina, I will say that embodying her can-do spirit was a useful exercise for what might lie ahead. The cake I made did not turn out as beautifully as some of Sandra Lee’s creations, yet I felt her spirit move me towards creating something that looked, in some lights, like art.



One place I’ll agree with Sandra Lee is that, in almost all instances, boxed cake mix is the way to go. You can boost its flavor and texture by using milk (or if you have it, buttermilk is BOMB) 1 for 1 in place of the water. Add an extra egg, and a splash of vanilla. Beat for a bit longer than is called for in the recipe.

Frosting, on the other hand, is easy to make from scratch and 100% worth it. Soften a stick of butter. Add some cream cheese if that’s your thing (1/4 to half a brick). Pinch of salt. Flavoring (vanilla, almond, lemon, cocoa powder, etc.), food color if you like. Powdered sugar (about a pound) + splashes of milk or cream, a little at a time. Beat with a mixer slowly to combine, then whip until air is incorporated and it holds its shape but is spreadable. Makes enough for a 2-layer cake.