Boxed Cake Mix Transformed, or “how to make a cake from a boxed cake mix that doesn’t appear to be a boxed cake”. I know that a lot of you are super busy and those new gluten-free cake mixes look so appealing, so I’m giving you my best tips for using them!
I never thought I’d be doing a post like this, not because I’m so against boxed cake mixes, but honestly because there have been so few gluten-free boxed cake mixes on the market. Well, now they’re everywhere! Even Pillsbury has a gluten-free confetti cake mix, which just blows my mind.
So, since making a box mix may be your go-to, you may also be wondering how to oomph it up a bit so it isn’t immediately noticeable as “not from scratch.”
I will preface this by saying, I still 100% believe in from-scratch cakes. I think they are a labor of pure love, they are gorgeous and taste wonderful and are always worth it (unless you burn the cake…then that sucks).
My husband is one of those guys who likes things to be “regular” or “normal”. In his eyes, the more flavors or substitutions he knows about, the less he likes something. He rolls his eyes at pumpkin pancakes and begs for buttermilk ones, he sighs when there are too many extras in his banana bread, and he likes chocolate or vanilla cake, no fluff. So, his birthday was coming up and I decided not to go “all out” in homage to him…but I still wanted to eat the cake and play with the mix too, so I went with a boxed confetti cake mix (this was the cake I also made for my Virtual Baby Shower). I even used a pre-made frosting! Gasp! Something I haven’t done in maybe 5 years.
This mix called for 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil, 1 cup of water, and the mix. Instead, I used egg whites (4-5), 1/3 cup melted coconut oil, water, and a splash of imitation vanilla (the primary flavor in confetti cake, the only place I use imitation vanilla). For the frosting, I added a couple drops of blue food gel and I added my own sprinkles on top of the cake too.
Even baking it was different than the instructions, just to make it my own. I baked it in a ½ jellyroll pan then used a 6” ring to stamp out 3 layers. Making it a small layer cake just made it extra special. I decided to crumb-coat frost it, leaving it “messy” looking, versus layering the frosting into a hugely frosted dome (my husband isn’t a frosting fan, and I’m not a fussy-looking frosting lover, so this works for us!).
Did he notice the difference? In the best way, no (he didn’t know it was from a box). But I did!
For me, I’d made the cake more special, a touch healthier, and I didn’t feel ashamed about “just” making a boxed cake. There’s no shame in making a boxed cake, but I used to hate having to admit I used a mix.
Here are my favorite tips to make a boxed cake mix your own. Use one tip, a couple, or as many as you’d like, and have fun!
- Add pure vanilla extract to a vanilla-based cake, add coffee to chocolate mix, add immitation vanilla to funfetti/confetti cake mix. I always do this. The splash of extra flavor really makes a difference.
- Add pudding mix! Add chocolate or vanilla pudding mix, depending on the cake flavor, to add lots of moisture to the cake. I usually just add ½ a box, but you can add the whole box (they even make sugar free or fat free varieties).
- Use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil or butter
- Make it a different shape! Presentation is key. You can bake it in a jelly roll pan and cut out 6” layers or bake it in a decorative bottom cake pan, just be sure to grease and flour the bottom so the details pop.
- Use food coloring and dye the cake OR the frosting. I use gel food coloring, because it is so vibrant and doesn’t add extra moisture to your mix. Just the tiniest drop makes a bright, bold difference.
- Use egg whites only or one whole egg and the rest egg whites. Also, try using applesauce, Greek yogurt, melted coconut oil or another healthy substitute for the canola/vegetable oil that is called for. Making chocolate cake? Try adding canned pumpkin (instead of most of or all of the oil) and a couple teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice!
- Refrigerate the cake overnight before frosting to trap in moisture. I like to cut out my layers, wrap them well with plastic wrap, then refrigerate overnight every time I make a cake. This is a tip I learned from a bakery I worked in, and it really does make a difference.
- Dice in fresh fruit or fold in chopped nuts.
Do you have a Boxed Cake Mix Transformation tip? I’d love to hear it! Which of mine jumps out at you?
Note: this is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.