Jell-o Poke Cake became all the rage during the 1970′s. (The recipe must have appeared in a woman’s magazine.) Our lunch ladies made it oftFfen.
Fillmore lunch ladies: I miss you. If you are still alive, will you come to my house tomorrow? Please?
Because I grew up in a small town, the school’s lunch ladies were moms who cooked for the students as if they were cooking for their families.
They were so adorable. “Eat your squash dear. It will make your cheeks rosy.”
Our lunch ladies made us homemade rolls, real turkey dinners with homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes from scratch with hamburger gravy, and more. NOBODY brought a lunch from home. NOBODY went home for lunch. NOBODY left the campus to get lunch elsewhere. Ever.
Why should we when our lunches were so dingy-dang-dang-donged good?
When the lunch ladies introduced Jell-o Poke Cake to us one happy day, everyone went nuts, went home and told their mothers, who started making it, too. Over the years, the hair-net-wearing, white-uniformed, sensible-shoes-on-feet, permanent-curled-hair sweeties experienced with all sorts of flavor combinations to entertain us. I particularly remember them making lemon cake with lime Jell-o a few times.
The flavor combination I am going to introduce you to today was everyone’s favorite.
A large box of *Jell-o (any flavor)
Cake Mix (any flavor that goes well with Jello)
Pudding Mix (Cooked. Instant. Whatever you want.)
Cool Whip (or real whipped cream)
HOW TO MAKE Jell-O POKE CAKE
Make the cake according to the directions on the box. Cool it. Because I was in a hurry (wanted to eat it soon), I put it in the refrigerator while I worked on the next step.
Add the Jell-o to a metal bowl. You want to use a metal bowl because metal heats up and cools rapidly. You’ll see why this is important soon.
Add 1 cup of boiling water to the Jell-o. Stir until dissolved.
Add 1 huge cup of ice to the Jell-o.
Stir until the Jell-o becomes thickened. You may need to add a little more ice.
Once the Jell-o becomes thickened, the ice will stop melting. Fish the extra pieces of ice out with a spoon.
Put the Jell-o in the refrigerator while you do the next step.
Now comes the fun part; you get to poke the cake. Usually, I poke holes into the cake with a fork. Today, I decided that I wanted to make a prettier cake, so I found something interesting to use.
Ever cracked nuts? You use a metal nutcracker to do this, right? This tool is the little metal pointing thing-a-ma-jig that comes in the set. It lets you pick out the nut meat that doesn’t fall out easily on it’s own. (I’m sure there is a technical term for this tool, but the name escapes me at the moment.)
You could use anything you want to poke the cake. Just make sure you poke holes in the whole cake because you need the holes so that the Jell-o can get down to the bottom.
Now you’ll pour the thickened Jell-o on top of the cake. Notice that it isn’t set up. If you took so long poking the cake that the Jell-o has set up, you will have to make up some more Jell-o.
So don’t do that.
Smush the Jell-o into the cake (down in the holes) with the back of a spoon.
Smush the Jell-o rather than smash it or you’ll squash your cake.
Now this next part is completely optional and frankly, I’ve never done it before. I decided to put fruit on my Jell-o Poke Cake this time, because I wanted to show off a little bit for you.
Why not be a little smanchy-fancy in my food blog, right?
The experiment turned out wonderfully and I think I’ll do this again. You can use any type of fruit you’d like.
Because I had it, I used a package of frozen strawberries.
I put the strawberries in the microwave for 1 minute. Then I smashed them with my fist.
Smashing takes more force than smushing. I also picked up the package and squished it a little bit, just to make sure that all of the strawberries were smushed up.
Next, I spread the smashed, squished, and smushed-up strawberries over the top of the cake.
If I had some fresh strawberries that day, I could have sliced them on top of the cake, there-by avoiding all of the fruity violence.
Pop the cake back into the refrigerator.
If you have been following this blog, you will recognize this bowl because I use it all of the time. Pour little chipped thing.
If you have decided to use a cooked pudding mix, here’s the quickest way to do it:
Add all of the ingredients required for the pudding into a glass bowl. (Follow the directions on the box.)
Put the pudding mixture into the microwave for 3 minutes. Pull it out and stir it with a wire whip. Put it back into the microwave for 3 more minutes. Stir it again. Keep doing this until the pudding is thickened.
I learned this next step in Home Economics when I was in the eighth grade.
Every girl who could draw a breath was required to take Home Economics when I was in public school. Too bad they stopped this practice. Everyone should be able to perform the basic functions of family life and if you don’t force kids to learn how, they won’t volunteer themselves for the task. I think that both boys and girls should be required to take Home Economics and I think that Home Economics teachers should teach old-timey, basic skills.
But that’s just me.
(I’m sure some teachers still do these things, but my kids never met one. If we have any throw-back Home Economics teachers in our group, I would love to give you public kudos!)
To make the ice bath, put cold water in a sink and then add a bunch of ice to it.
How much water and ice?
Depends on the size of your bowl. You want it deep enough to cool down the pudding, but you don’t want to get water into the bowl.
Put the bowl into the ice bath and stir with the wire whip until it has completely cooled down. This is fun to do because you will see steam pouring out of it.
This is the same cooling-down technique that allows me to make vast numbers of homemade cream pies on Thanksgiving morning.
Thanks, Mrs. Hunter!
Now fold the Cool Whip into the pudding. Try not to stick your finger into the bowl too often because that’s not sanitary and the food police may get you if you do.
Of course, if you are the only person who will consume the cake, you can lick it all you want.
If you can resist tasting it at this point, you are a better person than I am.
Don’t tell my family I said that because it didn’t happen. I swear.
Spread the pudding mixture on top of the cake. Do not squish, smush or squash it. Schmear would work, though.
Yes, go ahead and schmear the pudding on top of the cake. If you are lucky, the pudding will run over the edge and you can eat the drips without feeling guilty.
If this pan looks old, it’s only because it is. This is my grandmother’s cake pan! A metal cake pan will hurry along the next step for the same reason that metal bowls hasten the Jell-o making process.
Put the cake in the refrigerator. Try to wait as long as you can stand it before you eat a piece.
See the finished product? Such pretty streaks of yummy, raspberry Jell-o in this one. It was so light, juicy and wonderful!
I dare you not to make a Jell-o Poke Cake after reading this post. I double-dog dare you.
You know you have to. You can’t resist. Don’t even try.
One more thing about Jell-o Poke Cake before I go. While it is good the first day, it is even better the second day because the flavors meld so wonderfully!
*You can use a store-brand gelatin for this recipe, if you prefer.