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how to make a cake mix taste better

How to make a cake mix taste better

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In the last few months, I have gotten a few requests for a recipe to make CAKE MIXES taste better.

And after 28 attempts (yup… seriously!), involving various brands, flavors, addition and replacement of ingredients … I am delighted to share a MIND-BLOWING revamped cake mix recipe!

You guys must be thinking: “What the hell is wrong with Abeer? She has a blog called “Cakewhiz” and instead of sharing a cake recipe that’s made from scratch, she’s showing us how to make cake from a box?!”

I know! I know… I UNDERSTAND your concerns.

The reality is I have an AH-MAZING recipe forΒ chocolate cake and vanilla cakeΒ (just omit the Hershey kisses), made from scratch.

But let’s face it…making cakes from scratch is NOT possible all the time!

Maybe you are out of flour or sugar or you are just too tired to make a cake from scratch…

So, for those days… this revamped cake from a cake mix is PERFECT!

And I even made it PRETTY so that you can serve it on Valentine’s Day πŸ™‚

how to make a cake mix taste better 1

I have been working on this recipe for about a MONTH and I was starting to think this would never work but thankfully, Β all that work eventually paid off πŸ™‚

28th time is truly the charm! hahaha πŸ˜›

I made this cake for my Grandma a few weeks ago and she LOVEDDDD it.

She is one of my TOUGHEST critics and is brutally honest and NEVER sugarcoats anything. I love that! πŸ˜€

She liked this cake BETTER than my homemade chocolate cake.

That just threw me off and I was about to pass out coz that’s her FAVORITE cake to date…hahah πŸ˜›

how to make a cake mix better 52

Anyways, let’s talk about my REVAMPED cake mix recipe…

I have made a lot of changes and you can apply these changes to Pillsbury’s chocolate cake mix or Pillsbury’s vanilla came mix!Β 

YUP… Pillsbury! Stick to the Pillsbury brand…I tried many brands and Pillsbury works the best.

And don’t use cake mixes which already have pudding…Get the simplest Pillsbury cake mix you can find.

Now, most cake mixes ask for 2 or 3 eggs.

Ignore that and add 4 large eggs and make sure they are fresh.

The older eggs sometimes make your cakes smell funky or maybe I tend to notice that coz I have a the nose of a hound! lol.

Also, don’t add oil but instead, use unsalted butter.

It adds more flavor and fat content into your cake and that’s always a good thing πŸ˜‰

how to make a cake mix taste better 3In addition to this, ignore water coz it brings NOTHING to your cake.Β 

Add whole milk instead… not fat-free, soy milk or almond milk… WHOLE MILK!Β 

Another thing I really LIKE to add to my cake mix is ready-made pudding…those little snack packs.Β 

I think it adds flavor, fat content and moisture to your cake.

DON’T even think about using homemade pudding…it doesn’t work :S

how to make a cake mix better 51Use chocolate pudding if you are making a chocolate cake and use butterscotch pudding if you are making a vanilla cake.

And finally, add a tablespoon of the BEST quality extract or emulsion oil you can find.

Emulsion oils are pricey BUT work better because they don’t evaporate while baking.Β 

how to make a cake mix taste better 4

For the cake that you are seeing today, I made a chocolate cake and covered it in a FANTASTIC chocolate buttercream icing.

Then, I covered it in crushed candy canes and topped it all off with a CUTE candy cane heart.

These candy cane hearts are sooooooo EASY to make and they are such a NICE way to use up leftover Christmas candy cakes.Β 

Perfect romantic cake for Valentine’s day…Don’t ya think?! πŸ˜€

It’s pink, minty and choco-licious!

how to make a cake mix taste better 5

To make a cake mix taste better, you will need the following ingredients:

1 box Pillsbury chocolate cake mix or vanilla cake mix (get the box without pudding)
1 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp cup melted unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla emulsion oil
1 snack pack pudding (3.25 oz)

Notes:
Use chocolate pudding if you are making a chocolate cake and use butterscotch pudding if you are making a vanilla cake.
– Play around with different extracts and spices to come up with different flavors of cakes. Here are a few that I have made..
Spiced vanilla cake: Use a vanilla cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But also add 1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder, 1/2 tsp allspice powder.
Lemon cake: Use a vanilla cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But, add lemon pudding, 1 tbsp lemon zest and 1 tbsp lemon flavored emulsion oil.
Orange cake: Use a vanilla cake mix and the same ingredients as above. But, add 1 tbsp orange zest, 2 tbsp orange marmalade and 1 tbsp orange flavored emulsion oil.
Chocolate orange cake: Use a chocolate cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But also add 1 tbsp orange zest, 2 tbsp orange marmlade, 1 tbsp Orange flavored emulsion oil.
Spicy chocolate cake: Use a chocolate cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But, also add 1 tbsp chilli powder, 1/2 tbsp paprika. Use more or less according to your preference.
– You can always throw in some nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds) or dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, dried pineapples, dried mangoes) or even chocolate chips into your cake. Add about Β 1/2 cup of add-ins and always remember to coat them in some flour so that they don’t sink to the bottom of your cake. Β 

And here are the steps:Β 

Step 1:
In a deep bowl, add butter and eggs.
Mix until they are combined.

Step 2:
Add the cake mix powder, pudding, milk, vanilla extract or emulsion oil and mix until everything is combined properly.

Step 3:Β 
Pour this batter into a greased/floured 8×2 round cake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Step 4:
This step is optional but it makes the cake SUPER MOIST! I highly recommend it.
Let this cake cool down and come to room temperature.
Remove the cake from your pan.
Then, wrap it up in saran wrap multiple times and place it in the freezer overnight.
The next day, let your cake come to room temperature and then cover it in chocolate frosting!

And you are done!

This cake is going to be phenomenal… I guarantee! πŸ˜‰

how to make a cake mix taste better 6

How to make a cake mix taste better
Author: 
Recipe type: Cake
 
Learn how adding just a few simple ingredients can make a cake mix taste better. It tastes homemade and is always a hit at parties!
Ingredients
  • 1 box Pillsbury chocolate cake mix or vanilla cake mix (get the box without pudding)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla emulsion oil
  • 1 snack pack pudding (3.25 oz)
Instructions
  1. In a deep bowl, add butter and eggs. Mix until they are combined.
  2. Add the cake mix powder, pudding, milk, vanilla extract or emulsion oil and mix until everything is combined properly.
  3. Pour this batter into a greased/floured 8x2 round cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  4. This step is optional but it makes the cake SUPER MOIST! I highly recommend it. Let this cake cool down and come to room temperature. Remove the cake from your pan. Then, wrap it up in saran wrap multiple times and place it in the freezer overnight. The next day, let your cake come to room temperature and then cover it in chocolate frosting!
  5. And you are done! This cake is going to be phenomenal... I guarantee! ;)
Notes
- Use chocolate pudding if you are making a chocolate cake and use butterscotch pudding if you are making a vanilla cake.
- Play around with different extracts and spices to come up with different flavors of cakes. Here are a few that I have made..
Spiced vanilla cake: Use a vanilla cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But also add 1 tsp cinnamon powder, ½ tsp nutmeg powder, ½ tsp allspice powder.
Lemon cake: Use a vanilla cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But, add lemon pudding, 1 tbsp lemon zest and 1 tbsp lemon flavored emulsion oil.
Orange cake: Use a vanilla cake mix and the same ingredients as above. But, add 1 tbsp orange zest, 2 tbsp orange marmalade and 1 tbsp orange flavored emulsion oil.
Chocolate orange cake: Use a chocolate cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But also add 1 tbsp orange zest, 2 tbsp orange marmlade, 1 tbsp Orange flavored emulsion oil.
Spicy chocolate cake: Use a chocolate cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But, also add 1 tbsp chilli powder, ½ tbsp paprika. Use more or less according to your preference.
- You can always throw in some nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds) or dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, dried pineapples, dried mangoes) or even chocolate chips into your cake. Add about ½ cup of add-ins and always remember to coat them in some flour so that they don't sink to the bottom of your cake.

Well, that’s all for today!

If you liked this post, you may also like some of these other recipes…

Chocolate cake mix cookies

chocolate cake mix cookies

Loaded 20 minute cake mix bars

20 minute cake mix bars

Candy cane shards cake

candy cane shards cakeUntil next time, tata my lovelies πŸ™‚

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41 Comments

  1. Becky

    January 29, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Abeer,
    Thank you for the tips. Sometimes, you just don’t have time to bake from scratch, and your revamped recipe sounds great. Thanks for sharing. Does this work for cupcakes. too?

  2. cakewhiz

    January 31, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    @ Becky… i hope you try out this recipe…it’s very very good! I have used it for cupcakes before and they turned out very soft. But, I haven’t tried freezing them yet…not sure how that would work out :S

  3. Allison

    February 12, 2014 at 9:37 am

    hey! thanks for this! i have a question. i don’t have pudding. i am all ready to go and don’t have pudding? ugh. can i do without it this time? and if yes does it change the cooking time?

    1. sharon

      January 2, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      keep instant pudding in cupboard and add a box per cake mix. Super moist cakes. yum

      1. Abeer Rizvi

        January 4, 2016 at 1:34 am

        Sounds like a neat idea! I am going to try it next time πŸ™‚

  4. Allison

    February 12, 2014 at 9:40 am

    oh and i am NOT a baker. actually really bad. so i am on a mission to change that. so i am totally a beginner

  5. Cakewhiz

    February 12, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Hey Allison… You can give it a shot without pudding. I haven’t triedi t. But, i highly recommend it since it adds moisture and flavor to the cake. If you omit that, the baking time should not be affected drastically. But, check on your cake after 35-40 minutes just to see if it’s done or not. If you take it out too soon, the cake will sink and if you over-bake it, your cake will end up a little dry.

    And don’t worry….practice makes perfect. I am sure you will become a great baker with a little patience and lots of practice πŸ™‚

  6. Allison

    February 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    It is delicious! It may be a little dryer than with the pudding but it is so good! Since I am not a baker, I need to use mix. maybe down the line I will try from scratch and will def check out your recipes for that. but thank you so much for posting this recipe. I think it saved my daughters birthday cake! I always get from a baker but I learned how to do the rose swirls and have so much fun doing it. So I am giving it a shot. But the mixes are always dry and crumbly. My hubby doesn’t like that πŸ™‚ so i promised to find a way to make it better. SO YOU SAVED THE DAY! Much thanks! Ps. I split the cake batter into two 8 inch and they were done in 28 mins. (I made two sets) I watched them like a hawk so I didn’t over cook. 28 was perfect.

  7. Allison

    February 15, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    So my sweet babies 2nd birthday party was today! Cake Whiz, you rock! The cake was RAVED about! I mean they all were shocked how great it was. (I did tell my mommy friends where to get this recipe!) I really appreciate your post and your help. I know you may do this website for fun or maybe a job, but it really helped me. So know you are appreciated. It was the first time in I made a cake for my children instead of getting it at a bakery so I was really nervous. But it was a HIT and scrumptious! Thank you!

  8. cakewhiz

    February 16, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    @ Allison… I am soooo happy to hear that! Yayyyy πŸ˜€ It’s always so much fun to make cakes for our little kiddos. I am sure your little one is going to enjoy looking at her birthday pictures a few years from now. And I bet she is going to appreciate the beautiful cake you made for her, out of love πŸ™‚

    My website is just for fun and sharing my passion for baking and cake decorating with others. It makes me very happy to hear that people like you like the recipes I share and it motivates me to continue sharing πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your sweet comment!

  9. Renee

    April 25, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Hi and thank you for sharing your knowledge! I am looking to try your recipe but have to make a 12" cake. How to I adapt the recipe?

  10. Renee

    April 25, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Oh my, just saw your recipe for the meringue frosting. If I use as filling should I use something else to frost cake with? Wanted to pipe one layer and cover other layer in fondant. Is it temp sensitiv? Does it dry like a crusting buttercream frosting?

  11. M Barrett

    June 18, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I love the recipe for making boxed cake taste better, I am always trying new things and this sounds great. I do have one question. You said not to use soy or almond milk. I typically make my twins’ birthday cakes and they are lactose intolerant. Would the soy or almond milk effect the texture of the cake, or is it just not as tasty? Straight milk seems to upset their stomachs, and I don’t know how it would do for them in a cake…Thanks!

  12. Kate O'Conner

    December 4, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Fantastic! Say, can I substitute buttermilk for whole milk? Also, can I substitute plain Crisco for the butter?

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      December 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Hey Kate,
      I haven’t tried buttermilk myself but someone emailed me saying they tried it and it worked great.
      As for Crisco, I would avoid using that and stick with butter coz I think crisco might make the cake too dense. Also, I am a butter-loving gal and I think butter adds a wonderful flavor to all baked goods πŸ˜‰

  13. Leslie Ramey

    December 22, 2014 at 9:27 am

    could you use a peppermint extract to make a chocolate peppermint cake? I love all these ideas for different flavors!! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      December 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Yes, you can but I would suggest using a peppermint emulsion oil rather than extract. It doesn’t evaporate in baking. So, the flavor and taste of the cake would be minty and refreshing πŸ™‚

  14. avalon

    December 25, 2014 at 7:50 am

    thanks for this great recipe . How do you make the candy cane hearts???

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      December 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      I did a small tutorial for those hearts here: http://www.cakewhiz.com/edible-flower-puzzle
      They are so easy to make!

  15. Kasey

    February 2, 2015 at 2:11 am

    What would the baking time be for cupcakes?

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      February 2, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      I usually bake them for 18- 20 minutes. The timing can vary a little from oven to oven.

  16. Tonia

    February 24, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Why stay away from the pudding already in the mix?

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      March 14, 2015 at 12:15 am

      I have tried my modifications with cake mixes that have pudding and those that don’t have pudding. The cake mixes without pudding always worked better… The cakes held their shape better and they tasted better too.

  17. Billie

    April 22, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I bought a Pillsbury cake mix without pudding. The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup water; should I still only use 1 cup whole milk?

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      May 3, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      I would suggest using 1 1/4 cups of milk instead of water. if you reduce the quantity, i think the texture might change and become more “brownie-like.” Let me know how it goes πŸ™‚

  18. Billie

    April 22, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Sorry, one more question…the box mix recipe also calls for 4 eggs; should i stick with the 4 or add 1 more.

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      May 3, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      I would stick with 4 eggs. 5 eggs is a lot for a basic cake recipe…lol.

  19. Leigh

    June 30, 2015 at 1:45 am

    I need to make a 9×13 cake. How much boxed mix do I buy/prepare for that sized pan? Also does it matter what kind of cake pan I use (shiny, black, glass?) assuming that I will oil and flour it before adding batter (so no need for non-stick).
    thanks!
    Leigh

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      June 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      I have never made a cake that size. So, I really don’t know how much cake mix you will need. I am guessing 3 or 4 boxes??? I wish I could have helped more :S

      As for the pan, any pan works as long as the pan is greased floured and I line a sheet of wax paper at the bottom of the pan.

  20. Sara @ Life's Little Sweets

    September 15, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    You are so talented that it’s staggering. Everyone of your cakes is so inspired!

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      September 15, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks! Your comment made me blush so hard that my cheeks are hurting…lol. I am still learning and I try to have fun along the way πŸ™‚

  21. vinay

    December 12, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Hey Abeer
    Can you please tell the amount of milk in milli liters or the approximate size of a cup

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      December 12, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      Hi Vinay… I really don’t know about milliliters. I measure 1 cup, using measuring cups. Is that what you meant?

    2. Stephanie

      December 18, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      A cup is 250mL.

  22. Trupti parekh

    April 10, 2016 at 1:12 am

    If I want to mk eggless pls say want to use instead of eggs.

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      April 17, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      I have never made an eggless cake, using a cake mix. So, I have no idea. Someone once told me that they use 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg that they replace in a recipe. But I have never tried that myself. Please let me know if you try out any variations πŸ™‚

  23. amanda

    July 10, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    What about a strawberry cake mix?

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      July 19, 2016 at 12:33 am

      I am sure you can apply the same additions to a strawberry cake too. It should work just as well. Let me know how it goes πŸ™‚

  24. Lisa

    July 31, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Do you divide the batter into 2 pans? All of this in one pan seems like a lot..
    Just wondering..

    1. Abeer Rizvi

      August 6, 2016 at 4:21 am

      I normally use a round 8×3 cake pan and nothing spills out but I do end up with a dome on top. To fix that, I simply press a clean towel or oven mitt on top of the cake and press it down gently (as soon as it comes out of the oven) until it flattens a bit. You can also easily use 2 round 8×2 cake pans, if you like.

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