You may love the taste of homemade cake, but boxed cake mix is just so convenient. Using a mix doesn't mean your cake is destined to be dry or flavorless. Think of a store-bought mix as a basic starting point, or a culinary blank canvas. Then get experimenting with a few of these box cake mix hacks — your kitchen probably already holds the ingredients you need to take your cake to the next delicious level with minimal prep time and basically the same cook time. No one will ever know that the cake isn't made from scratch.
1. Swap Oil for Melted Butter
Is there anything that melted butter can't improve? Yeah, that's a no. Butter gives dry cake mix that homemade, straight-from-Grandma's-kitchen flavor. So leave the vegetable oil out of the recipe and use melted butter instead. The swap shouldn't change the cake's texture or crumb but will improve its cake flavor.
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2. Add Buttermilk
Buttermilk adds a creamy tang to a basic boxed cake mix. Bring that complexity to your dessert by using buttermilk in place of all or some of the water. If you don't have buttermilk on hand, make a substitute by combining a spoonful of lemon juice with a cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before measuring out what you need for your cake mix.
3. Stir in Instant Pudding Powder
Boxed mixes tend to produce cakes that are almost too light and airy. To give your cake a denser texture, try adding a packet of instant pudding mix to the cake batter. No need to follow the directions on the pudding package. Just add the powder right into the cake mix before adding wet ingredients.
Add even more personalization to your cake mix by adding in a few of your favorite mix-ins to the cake batter. Add a handful or two of chocolate chips for some more chocolatey goodness, sprinkles to white cake mix for your take on homemade funfetti, or extra dash of vanilla extract, pumpkin spice, and even some nuts for your take on a homemade spice cake.
4. Add Extra Egg Yolk
Egg yolks add creamy fat to your cake mix. It's no wonder they make such a delicious addition. Add two extra yolks to the mix to get optimal results. This tweak yields a cake that's moist and rich.
Don't know what to do with the extra egg whites when you add an additional egg? Use the egg whites in a homemade frosting like a Swiss meringue buttercream to add the extra layer of finesse to your cake.
5. Use Hot Water
When the cake mix recipe calls for water, you probably fill the measuring cup from the tap without thinking much about temperature. But using hot water is best, especially if you're making a chocolate cake. The heat will bloom any cocoa powder in the mix, intensifying the chocolate flavor.
6. Swap Coffee for Water
Craving mocha cake? Use hot coffee instead of water when making chocolate cake mix or devil's food cake mix. The finished cake should have a distinctive mocha flavor. Take your doctored cake mix to the next level: Make instant espresso and add the hot espresso to give the cake an even more intense coffee flavor.
7. Add in Soda to Your Box of Cake Mix
Want to simplify your life? Forget measuring out oil and cracking eggs. One of the absolute simplest ways to prep a boxed cake mix is to use just two ingredients — the mix and a can of soda. Experiment with different combinations, like cherry cola with chocolate cake or lemon-lime soda with vanilla.
8. Or Sub Milk for Water
No buttermilk, soda or coffee available? You can still do better than adding plain water to your cake mix. Mix in your favorite kind of milk to give the cake a little creaminess. The higher the fat content of your milk (read, whole milk or a higher-fat milk), the richer the finished cake will be. You might even try using chocolate milk!
9. Experiment With Mayonnaise
Okay, hear us out: Mayonnaise may actually be the perfect complement to your boxed mix. It should make your cake incredibly moist and tender, but no one will be able to taste the secret ingredient. If it's your first time adding mayo to the mix, start with just one big spoonful; if you like the results, try adding a little more the next time you make a cake.
10. Layer, Layer, Layer
Take your cake to another level (literally) by adding layers! Simply bake two or three box mix cakes in round or square cake pans, then stack them with a layer of sweet buttercream frosting in between each layer of moist cake for a more professional look and taste. More layers equals more frosting, which equals more delicious cake.