While baking a cake from scratch will produce delicious results, it’s not the only option for making dessert. Cake mixes are ideal if you’re short on time, missing certain ingredients for a recipe, or simply want an easier method for baking a cake. The only issue? Cake mixes often have a very specific flavor to them.
How do you spruce up a cake mix to make it taste homemade? There are several ways to swap ingredients, add mix-ins, or switch up its structure to make your dessert that much better. Try just one swap or incorporate multiple tricks for the best tasting cake.
1. Swap Oil for Melted Butter
Most boxed cake mixes call for an ingredients list of eggs, oil, and water. Many homemade cakes, however, are made with butter . Melted butter will enhance the flavor of your cake, while providing a moist, tender crumb. Swap the amount called for on the cake mix box with the same amount of melted unsalted butter.
2. Exchange Water for Dairy
Cake mixes are developed for quick and easy baking. Calling for water on the ingredients list makes them convenient and approachable. Adding a liquid with a higher fat content though will make your mix taste just like it was made from scratch. Use the same amount of milk in place for water, or try buttermilk to add a touch of tang and create a fluffy crumb.
3. Enhance With Extracts
Cake mixes typically incorporate artificial flavorings, which play a role in that distinct cake mix taste. Add one to two teaspoons of a pure extract to make it taste like a from-scratch cake. Pure vanilla extract and pure almond extract are great options, but you could also try lemon extract or orange extract paired with fresh citrus zest.
4. Incorporate Sour Cream or Mayo
Want a wonderfully moist, tender cake? Cake mixes don’t always provide that texture on their own. When you’re adding the wet ingredients to the dry, mix in two tablespoons of sour cream or mayonnaise.
5. Add in Nuts
Hoping for something more than a plain cake? Your favorite carrot or hummingbird cake often has nuts mixed into the batter. Add in 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts before transferring the batter to your prepared cake pan. This is an excellent pairing for a white, yellow , or spice cake mix.
6. Make Homemade Frosting
While it sometimes requires a long list of ingredients to bake a cake from scratch, making homemade frosting requires far less. Instead of reaching for canned frosting, mix up your own buttercream or cream cheese frosting to elevate the flavor of your cake.
7. Layer With Fillings
Hoping to serve an elaborate dessert for your company visiting? Utilize a box mix as the base. Bake two or three 8-inch cake rounds, and prep a homemade filling and frosting to put it all together! Homemade lemon curd or a whipped ganache filling is sure to impress.
8. Turn it into a Poke Cake
Did you grow up with poke cakes served after dinner? Dish up this classic, but use your cake mix as the base. Bake the cake and let it cool. Then, use a wooden pick to poke holes all over the top. Mix your favorite pudding, pour it over the cake, and then add homemade frosting. It will enhance the flavor tenfold and bring back nostalgic memories!