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Tips to make boxed cake mix taste homemade
We're all busy, so there is no shame in using boxed cake mix for your next cake-baking occasion. They have been around for DECADES for good reason.
Boxed cake mix is incredibly convenient with premeasured ingredients, easy-to-follow instructions, and predictable outcomes. They evolved after fruitcakes fell out of fashion just at the turn of the 19th century. Local grocers began selling premeasured cake ingredients like flour and sugar.
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The first commercial cake mix company in the United States is often attributed to the P. Duff and Sons company. In 1930, they introduced the first packaged cake mix called "Duff's All-In-One Cake Mix. Just a few years later Betty Crocker soon would be on the shelves followed soon after by Pillsbury and Duncan Hines.
To give your boxed cake mix a more authentic flavor try one or more of these tips to create a cake that is uniquely yours and no one will ever guess it came from a boxed mix!
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Use fat that has flavor
If you cake mix calls for oil, try using melted or better yet, browned butter instead. To brown butter, heat in a saucepan over med high heat and stir with a whisk until it starts to foam and brown bits form at the bottom of the pan. Do not walk away during this process because the butter will brown quickly.
Browned butter adds depth to savory and sweet dishes so keep this one in your back pocket of recipe boosters.
Water has no flavor so use a liquid that does
Swap out the water for whole milk, malted milk powder reconstituted, almond milk, cashew milk or macadamia nut milk. Oat milk won't add to the flavor so that is one milk alternative to avoid. If you're making a flavor that works with coffee, use some of that as your liquid instead!
Use heat to bloom flavors
Just like you toast spices to bring out their flavors you can do this with cocoa and spice cake mixes by using hot water instead of regular water (or milk if you're subbing that out for the water). Cocoa powder needs to be woken up just like spices do and this is how to do it.
Intensify the flavor
You can amp up the complexity of your cake flavor by boosting the vanilla, adding extracts like hazelnut, almond, rum or pistachio syrup. Pistachio syrup has a brown butter component so it really adds complexity to many different box cake flavors.
Tang adds unexpected depth
Incorporate a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt to add moisture and richness to the batter or try buttermilk to replace half or all of the liquid. All of these options will increase the tenderness of the cake crumb as well as enhance the flavor.
Adding a small box of instant pudding mix (matching the flavor of the cake) can increase moisture and enhance the flavor. There are so many flavors of pudding mix on the market now one of them is sure to complement your cake mix.
Give your cake a sunny disposition
Grate some lemon or orange zest into the batter for a fresh, citrusy flavor that will really brighten up vanilla cake. I like to use orange and lemon both in my vanilla cakes and pound cakes to add depth. You can even use some of the orange juice in the zested fruit to replace part of the liquid in your cake recipe.
Experimenting with these additions can elevate the taste and texture of a boxed cake mix, making it taste more like a homemade creation. You can mix and match these suggestions based on your preferences and the flavor of the boxed mix to create a cake that suits your taste.