The cake is from a box, because he doesn't have a mixer and isn't a home-baker, which made buying loads of sugar and flour and making a scratch cake seem like a lot of hard work. I would still like to try this cake made as 4 or 5 layers with buttercream or caramel icing, but I'll have to save that for another time when I have access to a mixer.
I made a Pillsbury Moist Supreme Classic Yellow cake and added a spoon of vanilla extract to the batter. I did make homemade buttercream icing, and I used tubes of Writing Icing by Cake Mate to decorate the cake. They work pretty well and don't taste icky like the tubes of icing I remember from childhood.