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Weeknight Cooking in a Messy Kitchen: Pineapple Strawberry Poke Cake!

May 5, 2010

It’s about time for another installment of WCMK! I recently discovered after having been a subscriber to Real Simple magazine for nearly a year. I spent an afternoon getting lost in recipes… and suddenly craved something ENTIRELY different. Dammit, I wanted some poke cake.

Now, what the hell is poke cake, you ask. It’s a cake you poke holes in and fill with Jello. Seriously.  Here we go.

Start with a cake mix of your choice. I really like yellow cake, but you can do white or funfetti or whatever. I’m not sure how I feel about cakes of the chocolate variety, but if you think it’d be tasty with raspberry or cherry Jello, who’s stopping you?

Mix up your cake batter according the its directions. You’ll probably need water, oil, and eggs… which means, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have to make a second trip to the grocery store because you don’t keep eggs in the house.  Pour the batter into a 9×13 baking dish. Or really, whatever you have. Bake it.

So, we’re off to a good start, right? WRONG. At this point, I decided to go outside to water my herbs and veggies while the cake bakes. As soon as I picked up my garden hose, I heard a loud sizzle, then CRACK BANG BOOM, I spun around and saw my neighbor’s tree emitting sparks EVERYWHERE, children screaming, “There’s fire on the ground!!!” Moms at the park across the street calling 911, and there’s me… standing on my patio nextdoor with a garden hose in my hand, thinking, “Do I use it? Will it reach? Should I be a hero?”  With a GARDEN HOSE, people. That’s ridiculous.

Turns out, the transformer totally blew up. I thought it was some dumb kids with fireworks. That shit was LOUD. So I hung around, waited for the police, fire department, and electric company to arrive, chatted with some firemen, and oh yeah, waited for my power to come back on.

So my poke cake baking was a bit delayed until the power came back an hour later.  Moral of the story? Don’t abandon your poke cake for your garden. Let’s continue, shall we?

Make Jello according to the package. I used pineapple for this recipe, but it took me a long time to decide what to use. I was torn between pineapple, cherry, and raspberry. Did you know they make apricot Jello? How good might that be?

Let the cake cool, then use the other end of a wooden spoon to poke holes in it.

Lick the spoon. Don’t let it go to waste. Waste = you hate the planet. And puppies.

Pour the liquid Jello into the holes and all over the cake itself. I forgot to take a photo of this. And it’s not like you can UNPOUR Jello to make that photo happen. So use your imaginations.

This step is optional. This is the first time I’ve added anything healthy to poke cake. I sliced up some strawberries and layered them atop the Jello. It was a good idea.

Top the cake with frosting. And by “top the cake with frosting,” I ACTUALLY mean USE COOLWHIP, STUPIDS. Because Coolwhip is one of the best things ever ever. Like… little pillowy clouds of yum sitting in pretty Coolwhippy mounds atop a delicious poke cake. Oh, jellybeans, what could be better than that?

After topping with Coolwhip from the gods, slice yourself a piece and enjoy!

It’s much better the next day when everything has had time to cool and coagulate (ew) but really, nothing is stopping you from enjoying it right out of the oven. Right, Joe?

About WCMK: I love cooking blogs and blogs that post recipes and fancy pictures of adorable clean kitchens and the cooks in darling little outfits. I love to cook, too. But I don’t have one of those kitchens. And I certainly don’t cook in my cute clothes. Also, I don’t own a nice camera. And if I did, I wouldn’t know how to use it. I have a real kitchen and a real home… one with clutter and yesterday’s dishes and crooked rugs. My cooking utensils are in an old Boy Scout popcorn tin for heaven’s sake. And I don’t regularly cook from scratch or follow a recipe. But I still wanted to do those fancy cooking blog posts with pictures and recipes. But dammit, I’m going to do it my way. See more of my recipes here.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2010 10:51 am

    Screw eggs and oil. Next time you want to make a cake, use a hand blender to stir 12 oz. (or 13/14 oz for really moist) of diet soda with the cake mix and bake as directed. It’s MUCH healthier and super MOIST. Yummy. My fav is diet cream soda mixed with white cake. If you do a chocolate cake, use diet coke or some variety of dark diet soda.

    I promise you’ll never use eggs/oil again.

    And you’ll thank me.

    And Joe will thank me.

    Go try it. 🙂

    • May 5, 2010 12:48 pm

      Hey Jan… the only thing less likely for me to have in my house than eggs is probably diet soda. I’m not sure how cake made with diet soda is healthier than a cake made with natural ingredients like oil and eggs. Unless you mean “healthy = less calories by substituting fake stuff,” then, okay… but I’d rather get my calories from real ingredients, you know? We shouldn’t be afraid of calories.

      Thanks for the suggestion, though. I might give it a whirl just to play.

      • May 5, 2010 1:07 pm

        Ouch! I was going to comment that it does. (On Weight Watchers, it reduces a slice of cake to just 3 points). But yep…you’re totally right. It’s just substituting fake stuff for less calories. 😉 I have this problem and I’m trying to fix it (i.e., eating things that are more calories but more filling than things that are less calories).

        Also, if I were to ever do a cooking post, it would probably resemble this one. But this was way more adorable than most cooking posts I read. 🙂

      • May 5, 2010 1:18 pm

        LOVED this cake as a kid and haven’t tried it in 20+ years – think I have a yellow cake mix in the cupboard and some raspberry jello and this may need to be made right now! 🙂 Thanks for the reminder.

        For the soda reco – it doesn’t have to be diet soda – full sugar will do too and still less calories than 2 eggs and a cup of oil. For those wanting to cut calories though, use egg whites only think you need 3 egg whites to replace 2 eggs and instead of oil applesauce – more natural and no change in flavor! Or skip the eggs altogether and use 1 can of pinapple, cherry pie filling or apple pie filling and mix and bake.

      • May 5, 2010 1:19 pm

        Again, calories are not the enemy. I understand subbing in healthier ingredients like applesauce or pie filling… natural sugar is so much better than a can of Coke… but why are eggs and oil getting such a bad wrap?

      • May 5, 2010 1:47 pm

        No bad rap here – but years of Weight Watchers recipes give you ideas to cut calories and still have cake! 🙂 Personally I’ve given up on calorie counting and am attempting to just use common sense. I just put my yellow cake in the oven and am using 3 eggs and 1/3 cup of canola oil. Unfortunately all I have is sugar free jello though so will still be some aspartame in the mix. 😉

        Thanks for the idea!

  2. May 5, 2010 1:00 pm


  3. May 5, 2010 1:03 pm

    You are adorable. Stop.

    I was secretly hoping there was going to be some sweetened condensed milk involved. Do you have any recipes for anything involving that? Because really, I just want an excuse to open a can and lick the lid. Mmm.

    Also! I never, ever buy eggs (I don’t like them alone, they are only acceptable in French toast form) – but there are a billion ways to substitute. I usually do the ground flax seed + water trick. I’ve done tofu once, and know bananas work, too. Anything for baked goods. But if I buy a bunch of eggs for a cake, they just sit there in my fridge. Ha.

    Anyway, you are cute. And I love these posts. I still have you to thank for introducing me to that beer fondue stuff from Trader Joes. YUM.

    • May 5, 2010 1:52 pm

      For a little sweetened-condensed milk fix, haha, instead of jello, pour a jar of caramel and a can of s/c milk. It’s the best with chocolate cake, but I think it would work with white too. And of course the whipped cream “frosting”!

  4. May 5, 2010 1:05 pm

    aw! my mommom makes poke cake! but i think she uses peach or strawberry jello and then she tops the coolwhip with cut up canned peaches. she makes it every year for my poppops birthday, it’s his favorite.

    also? eggs & oil > aspartame and caramel coloring #42. just sayin.

  5. May 5, 2010 1:15 pm

    Too adorable, Renee. I really only bake banana bread and cookies, but this is completely how I look while in the kitchen. And I use a blender instead of a mixer, because, well, I don’t own one of those fancy things. I’m inspired by those lovely cooking blogs with pretty pictures and pretty outfits, but like you, my kitchen doesn’t look like that, and when I’m at home? I’m in pajamas.

  6. May 5, 2010 1:22 pm

    I hate jello (something about the jiggle factor makes me want to vom) but this sounds great! And I love your WCMK feature!! 🙂

  7. May 5, 2010 2:00 pm

    mmm sounds good!
    but im dense. i have a question. so you pour (i just wrote purr) the jello in, and then… do you fridge it? like, it’s wet and watery when you pour it in/on top of the cake but how does it… jello itself?
    whatever, it sounds delightful and i want some now!

    • May 5, 2010 2:05 pm

      It’s wet when you pour but it will “Jello itself” when it’s in the fridge. The cake has to be refrigerated because of the CoolWhip anyways. Once it’s been sitting in there for an hour or so, it’s a different consistency than when it’s first put together. The cake-to-Jello ratio is pretty high, so it’s not going to have the consistency of Jello (or worse, fruit-in-Jello), it will essentially be a super moist cake with a fruity, summery kick.

  8. May 5, 2010 6:24 pm

    I love eggs. I get serious cravings for them and always have them in the house. I also love cake, and this one looks deelish!

  9. Mom permalink
    May 5, 2010 7:17 pm

    Poke cake stirs memories of my childhood… Your grandma Brown always made it with white cake and matched the flavor (color) of the Jell-o with the season/holiday.

  10. May 5, 2010 7:30 pm

    Yum, yum, yum. Can I come over please?

  11. stephcorwin permalink
    May 5, 2010 8:13 pm

    I LOVE when you blog about your cooking adventures! This sounds so yummy. 🙂 Also.. you are adorable.

  12. May 6, 2010 1:15 am

    I’m not much of a cake fan, but I am SO going to pass this idea on to my mom. She’ll probably love it! Ooh I could totally try this with cupcakes though! Hmm….

  13. May 6, 2010 3:14 pm

    So here I am wondering if the cake would be good with pudding instead of jell-o while everyone else is talking eggs and diet soda and calories and i’m all ” i want chocolate pudding in the holes!” (which is a total TWSS moment, maybe). Point being, I love me some baked goods. Especially ones that are “bad” for me.

  14. May 13, 2010 11:30 pm

    Confession: I’ve never heard of poke cake until just now. And I’m kind of curious now, even though I don’t really like whipped cream/cool whip…

    Thanks for sharing, lovely!

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