Introduction: Box Cake That Tastes Like Homemade
There is much debate about whether cake is better from a box mix or from scratch. I regularly make both and it really comes down to personal preference, but there are definitely pros and cons of each. Let's explore some of the differences.
This recipe is a breakout lesson from my Cake Decorating 101 collection. If you are interested in learning more about cake and the decorating process please take a look!
Pros of Cake from a Box:
Faster - It's much faster to dump a box cake mix into a bowl than it is to measure out all the individual dry ingredients.
Consistency - You know exactly what you are going to get from a box cake mix every single time you make one. The ingredients and amounts listed on the box rarely change.
Convenience - The convenience factor definitely plays in with box cake mix. There is something to be said about the ease of picking up a box and not needing a recipe!
Cheaper - If you don't doctor up a box cake mix (though I highly recommend doing it) this is a less expensive option.
Cons of Cake from a Box:
Ingredients - There are numerous artificial ingredients and flavors in box cake making it less healthy.
Flavor - Some think box cake has a distinct chemical/artificial flavor.
Pros of Cake from Scratch:
Healthier - Let's face it, cake isn't exactly health food, however, when you make a cake from scratch you are able to choose the ingredients used, making it a healthier option.
More depth of flavor - Cakes made from scratch usually have a richer more distinct flavor since there are no artificial ingredients to cover up natural flavors.
Denser - Scratch cakes tend to be more dense making them easier to work with and stack.
Control - Making a cake from scratch allows one to replace or substitute ingredients in order to cater to specific diets and/or allergies.
Cons of Cake from Scratch:
Recipes - Finding a good recipe for a homemade cake isn't easy. It takes a lot of trial and error to come up with a scratch cake that bakes up well and tastes great.
Denser - Scratch cakes are usually more dense than a box cake. If guests are not used to the dense crumb of the cake they will often relate it to being dry. :(
Step 1: Better Box Cake Recipe
If you choose to make a cake from a box mix I highly recommend adding a few extra ingredients to make it taste more like homemade. Here is a simple formula you can use with any box cake mix.
BETTER BOX CAKE RECIPE
1 box cake mix - any flavor
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup water or low-fat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules (use only for chocolate cake)
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour (bottom only) two 6-inch round baking pans (see note). If you leave the sides of the pans untouched your cakes will bake up taller!
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine dry cake mix, eggs, oil, sour cream, flour, water (or milk), vanilla and instant coffee granules (if making chocolate cake). Mix on low to incorporate all ingredients and then beat on medium speed for two minutes. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until cake tester (or wooden toothpick) inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Remove cakes from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
**Pan Size - Most box cake mixes call for 8-inch or 9-inch round pans, however, in order to get tall 2-inch cakes divide all the batter evenly between the two 6-inch pans. It will not overflow. Unless you make strawberry cake (from a box mix)...it will overflow. I'm not sure why, but it will.
Let me know what you think about this doctored up version when you have a chance to make it!
If you would prefer to make a chocolate cake from scratch check out my Double Chocolate Cake Recipe for something super delicious!