After I posted my Pineapple Juice Cake a few years back, I had tons of comments, messages and emails from folks saying that it reminded them of an apricot nectar cake their mother or grandmother used to make. I mentioned it to my own mother, who said she, in fact, remembered my grandmother making one. So I set out to find this apricot nectar deliciousness in my collection of old cookbooks. And I found it.
I read a post on a site that said Duncan Hines originally introduced the recipe when it launched lemon cake mix years ago, but I can’t verify that. The crazy thing about it is that when I tested this recipe with a Duncan Hines mix, the middle fell every single time, much like it does when folks use Duncan Hines cake mixes with that Pineapple Juice Cake recipe. So, as much as I love Duncan Hines mixes, I have to recommend another brand for this recipe. I’ve tested it extensively after folks reported problems with that recipe and it seems that the amount of oil in the recipe is the culprit.
The cake is made with a lemon cake mix and, much like my Pineapple Juice Cake, it’s mixed with eggs, vegetable oil and apricot nectar (in place of the pineapple juice). I found two or three variations of the recipe and they were all pretty consistent. All called for the addition of extra sugar that ranged between 1/4 to 1/2 cup. I was worried that the additional sugar might make the cake too sweet, but I found it quite pleasant. I think the lemon helps to offset the sweetness. I even made it without the extra sugar and much preferred the version with it.
The lemon is the real star in this recipe. I like the novelty of the apricot nectar, but didn’t really find it to have much apricot flavor. Regardless, it makes for a supermoist lemon cake that everyone who has tasted it loved. With that being said, I think you could use other juices or nectars if you desire. My local grocery store had canned nectars that ranged from peach and apricot to coconut-pineapple, strawberry, even strawberry-banana. So there are tons of great options.
One thing I noticed in my research is that the thing that varied most from recipe to recipe was the glaze. Some recipes called for 1 cup of powdered sugar to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for the glaze, which made a thick, white drizzle that was beautiful on the top of the cake. It’s the one pictured here. A few other recipes called for more lemon juice – sometimes as much as 6 tablespoons – to 1 cup of powdered sugar, which made a much more thin, translucent glaze that coated the outside of the cake. I made it both ways and found both delicious, so I decided to give you the option to make it how you might remember it.
Another thing that bears mentioning is I had some trouble with this cake sticking to the pan when turning it out. I tested it four times in the same pan that I always bake Bundt cakes in at the test kitchen, and it stuck every single time. I tried everything from reducing the sugar amount in the cake to using varying grease and flour methods on the pan. I ended up bringing one of my old pans from home (it’s probably older than me) and it popped right out – first try. And I only used the baking spray with flour in it to coat the pan. That being said, I have found that the old-school grease and flour method is the most reliable. Just be sure to pick a pan you usually don’t have trouble with sticking.
Vintage Lemon Apricot Nectar Cake
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
- 1 (15.25-ounce) lemon cake mix (I do not recommend Duncan Hines for this recipe.)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup apricot nectar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice (see note)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease and flour a 10-cup to 12-cup Bundt pan.
- Use a mixer to combine the cake mix, sugar, apricot nectar, oil and eggs. Combine on low, then switch to medium and mix for 2 minutes.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then place a serving platter over the cake and invert it onto the platter.
- In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice.
- Drizzle over warm cake.
Some folks remember this cake having a white “frosting” of sorts that was drizzled over the cake. Others remember more of a liquidy glaze that coated the outside of the cake. Use less lemon juice for it to resemble the pretty white drizzle or more juice for it to more fully coat the cake and soak in.
This recipe originally appeared on SouthernBite.com. For more great recipes, visit the website or check out ”The Southern Bite Cookbook.”