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This darkroom timer was an estate sale find.  It looked vintage to me, but I was surprised to find you can still purchase these new for about $200.  I thought it would make an awesome kitchen timer.

Tick tick tick.  Like every year, the month of May has felt like one big countdown to the last day of school.  This year is a little different, in that in a few hours my son will “graduate” from middle school.  In my day, you “finished” middle school, as required by the state, and went to high school.  My children, however, have “graduated” from day care, elementary school, and now middle school.  The graduation ceremonies have become more elaborate with each level of education, and today’s festivities are no exception, beginning with the ceremony and ending with an over-the-top party put together by a bunch of well-meaning helicopter parents.

So as of 5:00 today, I will have two high-schoolers.  I haven’t enjoyed the middle school years, and hated them when I was a middle-schooler.  I always said that if I was given the opportunity to live to 100, but as a condition I had to repeat being 13, I would have to turn it down.  Yet, as I picked my son up at school yesterday, I realized that maybe I’m not quite as ready for this as I thought I was.  It won’t be long now before when people ask me if I have kids, I’ll say, “Yes, but they’re grown.”

For now, though, I’m looking forward to the summer break from homework, uniforms, packing school lunches, early mornings, practices, rehearsals, concerts, game schedules, school projects, and exams.  May is always hectic, with all of the year-end activities and final exams.  This time of year it’s hard for me to find time to do anything, much less cook.

Sometimes, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I can be a little snobbish.  With a few exceptions (for example, salsa and Rao’s marinara sauce), I prefer homemade.  When I was home for over a month with my broken ankle, I watched a lot of daytime Food Network, and Sandra Lee was one of the daytime regulars.  Oh, how I hated her show!  I called it Sandra Lee Semi-Insane, and if I ever use the word “tablescape” in a sentence, please shoot me.  The show reinforced my commitment to cooking from scratch.  So when I see a cake recipe with 2 or 3 ingredients, and one of those ingredients is a cake mix, I usually ignore it.  But then my friend Linda offered me a slice of a cake made with just two ingredients — canned pineapple and angel food cake mix.  It was warm out of the oven and it was delicious.

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The beginning of an easy and delicious cake

So I searched for the recipe on the interwebs and found it on about a million sites. Where have I been?  There were lots of variations, too — add shredded coconut, rum or vanilla extract, lots of frosting ideas.  Several people mentioned to mix it in a large bowl because the batter “expands.”  They were not kidding!  I think you could probably strap a few boxes of angel food cake mix to yourself and use them as a personal flotation device.

What makes angel food cake mix foam up like crazy?  Sodium lauryl sulfate is the secret ingredient.

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A whipping aid?  Oh please!  I’ll show you a whipping aid!  🙂  According to my research, sodium lauryl sulfate is the same ingredient found in soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste that makes them foam up.

Inspired by the darkroom timer and the ticking of the middle school clock, I made the cake with canned pineapple, angel food cake mix, and 1/2 cup of sweetened shredded coconut.  You can use other fruits (like frozen blueberries), but the acid in the pineapple reacts with the leaveners to help the cake rise — the other fruits will result in a much flatter cake.  The cake  came out perfect, and my husband loved it.  It’s fine on its own, but is even better with a dollop of whipped topping.  Yep, I’m keeping a box of angel food cake mix in the pantry — right next to the Ghirardelli brownie mix!  🙂

5.0 from 1 reviews
  • 1 box angel food cake mix (I used Duncan HInes)
  • 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pineapple with juice. Mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in coconut.
  3. Pour batter into prepared 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and springs back when touched in middle. Let cool in pan.
  4. Serve with whipped topping. Garnish as desired.


1, 2, 3 — into the oven 


 Golden brown, hot from the oven


 5-ingredient garnish for a 3-ingredient cake?  Why not?


  1. Hi. Thanks for the great find. I am 11 years old and made this all by myself for my mom. I was so proud to be able to make her a fantastic treat. It tasted so good . . . like a fancy restaurant dessert.

    • I can’t tell you how excited I am to hear that you made this recipe all by yourself and that your family enjoyed it. I will let you know the next time I post a recipe that I think you can make all by yourself. Maybe an icebox pie . . . .

  2. . . . still laughing about the flotation device. Thanks for having something on here that even plebians can try! What else would you recommend if we didn’t want to use coconut?

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