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Apr 24, 2007 09:01 AM

making boxed cake mix better...

does anybody have any receipes that start with a boxed cake mix? Over the next few weeks we have a lot of get togethers that I would like to bring treats to and it would be great if I can start with a mix and make it great! I love the recipe that was posted around St. Pat's Day for the Irish Cream Bundt Cake that started with a yellow cake mix...


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  1. If I use a boxed mix I always add a box of extra vanilla or cocoa to the recipe. It doesn't sound like much but it makes a would of difference.
    I like to beat the eggs and fats first and then add them to the dry mix. The crumb will be much finer and if you followed the recipe directions.

    A boxed yellow cake is mix is a culinary chameleon, and the possible uses are endless. King Arthur's mixes are my favorite, but there is no shame with either Betty Crocker or Pillsbury.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Kelli2006

      You know, Kelli, so many chowhounds would roll their eyes at the thought of using cake mixes but the fact that you, as a professional baker, admit to using them, even if it might be only on occasion, says a lot about you and your confidence. I'll check out the King Arthur mixes based on your recommendation--I've never even noticed them before. Thanks! :-) There was an article in the Washington Post that asked some of the bigger pastry chefs in this area to make something with boxed cake mixes and frosting. Most said they could create something good w/ a box cake but they all agreed there was little you could do with canned frosting to make it better.

      1. re: chowser

        I love to bake and I don't have any problems with using cake mix, although for some I don't think it's worth it -- if it's basically just flour, leavening and flavoring and you have to add eggs, milk, oil, etc. anyway, I don't really see the point. Also, I'd look for brands that don't have a lot of artificial flavors, colors, etc.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Have you found any brands that don't have artificial flavorings? I've been trying to find such a cake mix for ages with no luck. Adding vanilla myself is not a big deal and I'm surprised there isn't a popular all natural cake mix yet. Sigh.

          1. re: bmorecupcake

            You might look for Oetker's organic cake mixes - I've seen them in lots of regular grocery stores, just usually in the "natural foods section," rather than with the other cake mixes.


            1. re: bmorecupcake

              There are two that I know of: Pamela's Gluten-Free and Namaste. Check out the local Natural Foods section of your grocery or Natural Foods market. They'll have many choices.

      2. Go buy the Cake Mix Doctor coobook. All the recipes start with a boxed cake mix, but by the end taste completely different. In particular, I love the strawberry cake recipe.

        12 Replies
        1. re: Megiac

          There are some good recipes in this book. My favorite is the Melted Ice Cream Cake. I don't think I even have to look it up.

          Take a box of white cake mix and add two cups of melted ice cream (NOT two cups of ice cream, melted; melt it first, then measure) and 3 eggs. Mix for 3 minutes on medium speed of whatever mixer you have. Pour into a greased 9X13 pan and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Ice however you like.

          This is my in-a-pinch cake. You can use any type of ice cream. I used a peanut butter ice cream that had pb cup pieces in it and the cake was terrific. The book recommends Cherries Garcia.

          1. re: raj1

            may I ask, what does this cake taste like? Does the ice cream give it a different texture, or is it just a flavor thing?

            1. re: alex8alot

              Taken from an Epicurious testimonial. Some found the cake dry; some moist
              I really loved this recipe, but after reading all the reviews I have to admit I was a little worried. After reading the recipe that is here I think I know why - it's missing a lot of important data! 1. DO NOT use a cake mix that contains pudding in the mix. 2. Use WHITE CAKE MIX as this provided the best results 3. Use PREMIUM ICE CREAM, as in Haagan Daz or Ben and Jerry's. You need a solid two cups of ice cream and cheaper brands contain a lot air and lower quality ingredients. Don't skimp! I do a lot of baking and try lots of recipes and this one was really good (and easy!). For more information about the recipe I used (I made a coffee flavored cake) please see pictures on my blog at

              by JuliaHelene from Seattle, WA
              Read More

              1. re: Holmbypark

                I think that's one reason the recipe posted above specifies to melt the ice cream then measure it. Presumably, you'll get more melted ice cream from the same frozen amount for a higher-quality ice cream without as much air incorporated.

            2. re: raj1

              RAJ....Tell me you're awake!!??Haha!I wanna add some fun to white cake, BUT only have Bryer's Choc ice cream with Reese PB slivers/cups in there!Any suggestions? I think I love U! LOL I may save some mix to make a sample, BUT it sounds wonderful! IF ANYONE tried this bad boy gimme a holla! Thanks Y'all! Heather New Orleans, LA.

            3. re: Megiac

              I second this suggestion. The Cake Doctor also has a great cupcake cookbook.

              1. re: Megiac

                I'm trying to make a Margarita Cake which calles for an Orange Cake Mix. However I can't find that in my stores here. Does the Cake Mix Doctor Book give any combinations for maybe a yellow cake and Orange Extract? I don't know how much Extract I would need to use... HELP

                1. re: Yknotnsb

                  Turn yellow into orange by using orange juice instead of water, add a tsp or two of extract for more orange flavor and put some orange zest in. I also like to use a bit of triplesec or grand marnier instead of some of the juice/water

                  1. re: Yknotnsb

                    I don't know where you can find an Orange Cake Mix, so I though that maybe a Lemon Cake Mix would be a reasonable alternative, and then just use a bit of orange flavoring.

                    1. re: Yknotnsb

                      I too had trouble finding orange cake mix so researched and was able to buy six boxes on I believe it cost about $18. Three dollars per box, not bad.

                    2. re: Megiac

                      This is a great cookbook!
                      Mi mum had this book, was a gift. She used it all the time. I think it may have helped slow the Alzhimer's, since it gave her something constructive to do.
                      When cleaning her house, I looked for it, but never found it.

                      1. re: Megiac

                        +1 on the cake mix doctor, I have one of her books, and the recipes I've tried are very tasty. especially her lemon blueberry bundt cake.
                        she has a lot of recipes on her website, IIRC, and does a e-newsletter that usually has recipes.

                      2. My favorite cake to make is a Harvey Wallbanger Cake. It's a bundt cake and EVERYONE loves it (be prepared to give out the recipe). It's very easy and starts with a yellow cake mix. As far as cake mixes go, I’m a huge fan of Duncan Heinz “Most Delicious” cake line. My friend, Cat, actually tried this recipe using homemade yellow cake ingredients (she’s so Martha sometimes) and claimed it didn’t taste as good. Go fig—sometimes store-bought does triumph. Woohoo!

                        1 package yellow cake mix
                        1 small package instant vanilla pudding
                        ¼ cup Galliano liquor
                        ¼ cup vodka
                        2/3 cup orange juice
                        ½ cup vegetable oil
                        4 eggs

                        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
                        Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
                        Pour in a greased bundt cake pan and bake for 45 minutes or until done.

                        You can also sprinkle/sift powdered sugar over it to make it look pretty, but really, it doesn't need anything on top. Hope this helps!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: alag77

                          Wow, my mother used to make this all the time. I haven't had it in at least 25 years, but I can still conjure up the taste. yum.

                          1. re: alag77

                            Okay - have a laugh everyone, but I was born in 1981. What IS Galliano liquor? Can you buy it in normal liquor stores? The cake sounds AWESOME. And, could you make them as cupcakes? (Thinking of taking to the beach for summertime)

                            1. re: stellamystar

                              Galliano is a sort of licorice-tasting liquor (I think). It's yellow and usually comes in some fancy, tall, slim bottle. I am sure you can get it at the liquor store. I've purchased mine at a supermarket (usually stored in the glass cases). It's a little expensive, but a bottle will last you a long time (that is, if you're using it strictly for cooking purposes. I can't vouch for how long it will last if you're swigging it at the bar). Be sure to get the regular galliano; I think there are different flavors.

                              I have never made it as a cupcake but I'm sure you can. Just adjust the cooking time. BUt even if you make it as a regular bundt cake, it's easy to slice it into individual slices and pack it.

                              1. re: alag77

                                NO! Galliano is a sweet liqueor, not licorice taste at all!

                                1. re: DanicaLynnae

                                  I always thought it was an orange-flavored liqueur, but according to the web, it's a "sweet, yellow Italian herbal liqueur. It is flavored with various herbs, flowers and spices, including anise, licorice and vanilla." So yes, it does have an anise/licorice flavor component.

                              2. re: stellamystar

                                I guess that means you missed the Harvey Wallbanger craze, too. Try that on your favorite bartender. You may have to find an older one.

                            2. Even if you don't make a different kind of cake recipe with your boxed cake, look at the Dream Whip box and follow the recipe for a very moist and delicious addition to yellow or chocolate cake mix

                              1. The two best doctored-mix cakes I've ever tasted are the aforementioned Strawberry Cake (Lots of slightly different recipes for it out there, so be sure you use 2/3 C. oil--not the 1/2 or 3/4 C. that some call for.), and this braindead-simple one from the Cake Mix Doctor. (I think she calls it the Chocolate-covered Cherry Cake.)

                                1 box Devil's Food cake mix (NOT w/"Pudding in the mix"!)
                                1 22 oz. can cherry pie filling
                                3 lg. eggs (She says 2, but I have better luck w/3)

                                Dump this in a bowl in no particular order, beat w/mixer 1 min. on low (scrape down sides of bowl well), 2 min. on med. (I have a powerful Braun hand mixer, so I use Med. If you have a wimpy mixer you might want to make that 2 min. on High.)

                                Add 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract, blend well. (She says 1 tsp., but I find that too much.)

                                I bake it in a buttered Bundt pan and frost it with Dutch Chocolate buttercream frosting (which I make with 6 Tbs. butter/4+ C. conf. sugar/Dutch Process Cocoa to taste/pinch of salt/vanilla and BOILING WATER-- which makes it tastes like cooked fudge) to which I add a full C. of toasted broken pecans or walnuts.

                                This makes enough frosting for a 9X13 sheet pan if you wish to cook it that way (easier to serve to a crowd and the icing is evenly distributed), but I pile it on/around/in the middle of the Bundt cake and it is a beautiful sight to behold. When I serve it I put a spoonful of the pooled frosting/nuts on each slice

                                (Start frosting while the cake is warm so it will run down the sides and pool nicely. As it cools you can pile the rest on top and it will stay there..)

                                This is a moist, dense, utterly sensational cake, and it is truly, truly better the 2nd or 3rd day after it's made. So make it at least a day ahead.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: PhoebeB

                                  Delicious!! I made this for an office event and everyone loved it!! I made it in two round cake pans instead of bundt and I made a similar icing but with normal cocoa and Hershey's Syrup instead of Dutch Processed and sprinkled it with toasted hazelnuts. The hazelnuts were amazing but I will make sure to try your frosting recipe next time. I didn't use it because I wasn't sure how much cocoa to use. Do you have a general starting amount? Thanks for a great recipe!

                                  1. re: PhoebeB

                                    I made this yesterday and it turned out great! Simple, easy, quick. Sometimes I want to make a dessert and just don't want to drag out 15 ingredients.
                                    This was flavorful and moist, and I actually liked the fact that the mixer broke up the cherries. I really didn't want big chunks in my cake.
                                    Thanks PhoebeB!