Boxed cake mixes are convenient and easy to make, almost guaranteeing a delicious tasting cake each time. In many cases, all you need to do is add water, egg and butter to make a moist, rich, fluffy cake. However, the water content in cakes can be replaced with other liquids. While this may alter the taste and texture of the cake, in some cases, this may be a welcome change.
Milk, because it is primarily water, can be used, ounce for ounce, in place of water for all cake mixes. You can use any type of milk as a substitute for water, from whole milk to ultra-pasteurized skim milk. Milk, as it contains more fat than water does, produces a richer tasting cake. Buttermilk, and thinned out yogurt and sour cream can also be used in place of water in cakes, but they may produce a slightly denser cake with a more pronounced tangy flavor.
Almost any other type of liquid can be used in place of water in cakes, from coffee to tea to non-dairy milks, such as almond milk. In the case of prepared beverages, such as pre-made tea, watch for additives, such as sugar or vanilla flavoring, which can alter the taste of the cake. Substitute non-dairy liquids in a 1-to-1 ratio for water in cake mix recipes.
Fruit juices add sweetness and a light flavor to cakes. However, only fresh fruit juices should be used. On its website, Duncan Hines cautions that canned or commercially made juices contain methyl silicone, which affects the ability of baked goods to rise. Fresh fruit juices, because they tend to be thicker than water, need to be thinned to the consistency of water before using. Avoid adding sugar to your fresh fruit juices as this can make cakes too sweet.
Fruit Purees, Eggs and Oil
Fruit purees, like fresh juices, can be used in place of water. Because they contain less moisture than juices however, they produce a much denser cake unless the purees are thinned out to a water-like consistency. In some cases though, a denser, chewier cake is desired, such as a boxed chocolate cake made with applesauce instead of water for a brownie-like texture. If you wish to have a denser cake, you might also consider not using any water at all, and instead doubling the number of eggs used and increasing the oil in the recipe by 1/3.
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