Making a cake from scratch can be time-consuming — from preheating the oven to measuring the ingredients to waiting for it to bake. Therefore, many cooks resort to using box cake mixes, especially if they don’t have the time or motivation to go through the motions. However, what box cakes offer in convenience, they seem to lack in taste – luckily, by following a few tips and tricks, you can make your store-bought mix taste just as good as the homemade variety.
Here are 8 tips for baking box cakes that taste amazing:
- Use good quality butter in place of oil.
- Add an extra egg.
- Use milk in place of water.
- Add a box of pudding mix.
- Use homemade frosting.
- Add an extract of choice.
- Use mayonnaise in place of oil.
- Add some mix-ins.
In this article, I will further explain how to properly use the methods mentioned above to make your box cake taste like you spent hours making it. So if you’re interested to learn more, keep on reading.
1. Use Good Quality Butter in Place of Oil
Using butter instead of oil for your box cake mix can improve its taste as it makes the cake richer and more flavorful. Moreover, using butter can help make the cake firmer and easier to handle.
Here are some of the most recommended brands of butter (available on Amazon.com):
- Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter: This brand is foolproof and has been a staple in most bakers’ kitchens for years. It has a distinct flavor that will give your cake the perfect amount of buttery taste.
- Land O Lakes Butter: This brand has been a favorite among home bakers and has delivered wonderful results. It contains 80% fat which will make your cake richer and more delectable. Remember that you will need to let this butter rest on your counter for a bit before using it to make it easier to incorporate into your other ingredients.
- Challenge Butter: This brand is perfect if you want to stay within your budget. However, despite being more affordable than others, the quality of Challenge Butter is remarkable and will undoubtedly improve the taste of your cake.
2. Add an Extra Egg
Adding an extra egg can make any box cake richer and more stable. So if your chosen box cake calls for 2 eggs, don’t forget to try this simple yet effective tip and add 3 instead.
Another way to use an extra egg to improve your cake is by leaving the white part out and just adding the yolk. Because of its emulsifying properties, the yolk will make the cake much smoother and moister.
3. Use Milk in Place of Water
Using milk in place of water can easily improve your cake’s quality and taste. The milk gives it a richer and fuller flavor and better texture. If you want to be a bit extra, try using buttermilk instead of regular milk.
If you want to try using buttermilk, you can easily make it yourself. You will only need the following ingredients:
- Whole milk
- White distilled vinegar or lemon juice
Here are the steps:
- Add 1 cup (237 ml) of milk into your measuring cup.
- Measure 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of white distilled vinegar or lemon juice and slightly stir into the milk.
- Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before using.
Check out this video from Pinch of Yum to see how it is made:
4. Add a Box of Pudding Mix
Adding a box of pudding mix to your box cake mix will add flavor and moisture to the sponge. Keep in mind that you should incorporate the pudding mix dry and unprepared.
Here are some pudding mix brands and flavors that you can try (available on Amazon.com):
- Godiva White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Instant Pudding Mix: Aside from amping up the vanilla in your box cake, this pudding brand will also add the taste of Godiva’s luscious white chocolate.
- Oreo Cookies’ n Creme Instant Pudding and Pie Filling: If you want to add more texture and flavor to your box cake, this pudding will do the job. It has crushed cookies and the taste of the creme-centered filling that we all love. This pudding is perfect if you want to make a cookies-and-cream cake without having to do much prep work.
- My-T-Fine Lemon Pudding and Pie Filling Mix: Enhance your lemon box cake by adding a box of My T Fine’s Lemon Pudding and Pie Filling Mix. It is made with natural ingredients and can make your cake taste much more refreshing.
5. Use Homemade Frosting
Since you will be using box cake, you will likely have extra time to whip up a delicious homemade frosting to level up your creation. Not only will this take your cake to the next level flavor and texture-wise, but it will also make it look much more appetizing.
So ditch the canned frosting and try this recipe for an easy and delicious buttercream frosting, which only requires 4 ingredients:
- 3 cups (710 ml) of sifted powdered sugar
- 1½ cups (355 ml) of softened butter
- 1½ teaspoons (7 ml) of vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup (78 ml) of heavy whipping cream
How to make the buttercream frosting:
- Combine all your ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Turn your mixer and start on low until all ingredients come together.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl before turning the speed of your mixer to high until everything is well-incorporated and smooth.
6. Add Your Choice of Extract
Adding a couple of drops of extract makes a huge difference and can enhance the flavors of box cake. Various extracts are available in the market, from vanilla to coffee and lemon.
However, use the best quality extract you can to ensure that your cake turns out delicious.
To help you find the best extracts, here’s a list of tried and tested brands that you can check out (available on Amazon.com):
- McCormick’s Pure Vanilla Extract: This vanilla extract has to be the most popular among bakers. It is made with Madagascar vanilla beans, which can give your cake the classic vanilla flavor you want. Plus, it is widely available and affordable.
- Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract: This brand sells a high-quality lemon extract containing California lemon oil, giving out peel notes. It can instantly brighten and pump up the flavor of your box cake.
- McCormick Imitation Almond Extract: If you run out of vanilla extract or want to try something different, almond extract is an excellent option. Although this brand is artificially flavored, it does the job very well. Using almond extract will add a delicious nutty flavor to your box cake.
- Nielsen-Massey Pure Coffee Extract: This coffee extract works best for chocolate box cakes since coffee is widely known to bring out and enhance the chocolate flavor even more. 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of this coffee extract is equivalent to 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of espresso powder.
These extracts can be used for various box cake mixes, so experiment with the flavors to see which combinations would fit your taste and preference.
7. Use Mayonnaise in Place of Oil
Most people squirm at the thought of adding mayonnaise to their cake batter, butI assure you this trick can do wonders. The key ingredients of mayonnaise are oil and eggs, so adding it to your batter will only make it moister and richer.
You do not need to be concerned about tasting mayonnaise when you eat the sponge since it will blend in with the other ingredients and be unnoticeable.
8. Add Some Mix-Ins
Adding mix-ins to your box cake will not only add extra flavor, but it will also add texture to every bite. You can select from various mix-ins — from chocolate chips to crushed cookies and from rainbow sprinkles to nuts. Plus, doing this can make your cake look more appealing as well.
Are you in the mood for a cookies-and-cream cake? Simple — prepare a vanilla box cake mix as instructed at the back of the box, add some crushed cookies to the batter before baking, then finish your creation with some vanilla frosting and sprinkle with more crushed cookies on top.
Or how about some rocky road cake? Use your favorite chocolate box cake mix, add some nuts and marshmallows to the batter, and bake according to the instructions. Once cooled, frost the sponge with some chocolate frosting and top it with more nuts and marshmallows.
These are just some examples of what you can add to your box cake to make it taste as if you made it from scratch.
Best Box Cake Brands
There are plenty of box cake brands in the market, but these are some of the best ones that you can try:
- Chocolate: If you are looking for the ultimate chocolate box cake, go for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Double Chocolate Premium Cake Mix (available on Amazon.com). This chocolate cake mix is rich, moist, and bursts with the perfect amount of chocolate taste — not too sweet, not too bitter.
- Red Velvet: Out of all the cake flavors, red velvet can be the most labor-intensive. So give the Betty Crocker Super Moist Red Velvet Cake Mix (available on Amazon.com) a shot. It captures the appearance and taste of a homemade red velvet cake excellently.
- Lemon: If you enjoy citrus-flavored cakes, you’ll love this Krusteaz Meyer Lemon Pound Cake Mix (available on Amazon.com). This lemon cake mix has the right amount of lemon flavor and is not overpowering. Plus, it comes with a tasty lemon glaze.
- Vanilla: If you are a fan of classic flavors, this Betty Crocker Super Moist French Vanilla Cake Mix (available on Amazon.com) is your best bet. It features the nostalgic taste of homemade vanilla cake and is deliciously moist.
How To Make a Box Cake Taste Like a Bakery Cake
If you want your box cake to taste similar to a bakery cake, do not skip out on the tips mentioned above; if possible, do not just use one. Combining several approaches will make your cake taste even better and improve its appearance.
For example — adding your preferred mix-ins and a box of pudding mix to your box cake will give it more texture, moisture, and flavor. Then you can finish your sponge with some homemade frosting and decorate it as much as you want.
Although some box cakes are good on their own, incorporating some of these steps can take your cake to the next level.
How To Make Box Cake Better
Swapping out some of the ingredients the box initially calls for can ultimately affect the taste of your box cake as it can help make your cake seem like it was made from scratch.
Whether swapping out oil for butter, adding a few drops of your chosen extract, or adding an egg, these methods can greatly improve and level up your box cake.
How To Make a Box Cake Moist and Fluffy
The ingredients you use and how you prepare the batter can affect how moist and fluffy your cake will turn out. Here are some ways to ensure that you get the best results:
- Cream the butter and sugar: If you’re using butter to make your box cake, make sure to incorporate this step as it will help you achieve a fluffy texture. Mix the butter and sugar until you reach a pale yellow color before adding the other ingredients.
- Do not overbake: Overbaking is one of the reasons why cakes do not turn out moist and fluffy. Leaving your sponge in the oven longer than required will make yit dry and crumbly.
Bake in the correct temperature: Preheating your oven to the right temperature before putting your cake in is a must. If your oven is too hot, it will dry out your cake, and if it is too cold, the sponge will not bake properly. So make sure you follow the stated temperature to ensure your cake comes out moist and fluffy.