When it comes to convenience, you gotta give props to cake mix. But when it comes to flavor, texture and just about everything else, literally no one would ever pick a cake from a box over one baked from scratch.
Wouldn't it be awesome if you could combine the best of both? Turns out you can. With a few smart tweaks and simple swap-outs, you can make your cake-mix cake taste a lot more like homemade cake .
Here's how to go half-scratch.
1. Up the Water Temp
When making a chocolate cake mix, add the amount of water called for, but use boiling water. The heat helps the cocoa in the mix "bloom," tasting richer and more chocolate-y.
2. Break Out the Butter
Most cake mixes call for vegetable or canola oil as a convenience. Problem is, these oils are not exactly tasty. Replacing the oil with an equal amount of melted butter will up the flavor factor and make the texture more luscious too.
3. Sneak In an Extra Egg Yolk
If you're craving a rich, moist cake, add an extra egg yolk (or two) on top of the ones called for in the cake-mix instructions. You'll be amazed by what a difference it makes.
4. Use Only Egg Whites
On the flip side, if you like your vanilla cakes to be fluffy, forget about yolks entirely and only use the whites of each egg called for on the box.
5. Stir In Milk Instead of Water
Water tastes like, well, water. Substitute whole milk for the water the box calls for. More fat means more flavor.
6. Add Fizz
It may sound totally bizarre, but swapping out the water for soda or even beer (!) can make your cake buoyant and extra tasty. Cola or a stout beer can up the flavor of chocolate cake; a lighter soda or beer (or even hard cider or Champagne, if you're feeling fancy) can add a boost to white or yellow cake mix.
7. Amp Up Flavor with Extract
Flavoring agents added to a cake mix go kinda flat as they sit on the shelf. To pump that flavor back up, doctor your batter with 1 to 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract or another type of flavoring extract that makes sense with the other flavors in your mix.
8. Brew Up Some Coffee
Chocolate and coffee are BFFs — and substituting some strong coffee for part or all of the water called for in your cake-mix instructions will prove it. As little as ¼ cup of coffee will deepen the chocolate taste without adding a coffee flavor; use more if you crave a hint of java.
9. Bust Out a Pudding Mix
Mix + mix = supermix! Add chocolate pudding mix to your chocolate cake mix for more flavor and richness. Or get creative: Add pistachio or lemon pudding mix to a white cake or cheesecake pudding to a strawberry cake.
10. Go Nuts with Mix-Ins
Doctor the batter by folding in a cup of finely chopped dried fruit, coarsely chopped nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, candy — it's all good.
Now all you have to do is put your cardboard box in the recycling bin and figure out what to do with all the time you just saved!