Making a Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade…

Coconut Cake 2

Last weekend, we all had to bring a dish to my parents’ house for Easter. I had seen a gorgeous looking coconut cake on another blog and immediately volunteered to bring dessert just so I could have an excuse to make this cake. I felt it had to be fate because I just happened to have the exact amount of ingredients I needed to make the cake. It was a little involved and time-consuming, but it sounded so good I knew it would be worth it. After all that hard work, I pulled the cakes out of the oven only to discover they hadn’t risen AT ALL and tasted almost like dense cornbread. What???

Well crap. Easter was tomorrow. What was I going to do?? I was out of flour and butter since I had used the last of it on the disaster cakes. I looked in the pantry- there was a box of white cake mix. Dare I? Yep, I dared. But I tweaked it a little to add a more homemade taste and look to it- no one ever even suspected it was from a box. It was really good and looked gorgeous! Success! Here’s how I did it:

Coconut Cake 3

The instructions on the back of the box called for:

3 egg whites
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

I used instead:

2 egg whites and 1 whole egg (at room temperature)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract (that’s all I use and I think it makes all the difference)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Divide the batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans and bake for 20 minutes. Using 3 cake pans instead of 2 will make the finished cake look taller and more professional. Plus, you get an extra layer of frosting that way! Use your favorite homemade buttercream (I’m sorry, but there really is no substitute for homemade buttercream. The stuff from the can doesn’t even come close).

Here’s my go-to buttercream recipe:

3 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
splash milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (this adds so much!)

Mix together in a stand mixer until you get a nice, thick, spreadable consistency. If you feel it’s too thick, add more milk. Makes enough to frost a 3 layered cake (it makes a lot!). To decorate the cake, sprinkle with flaked coconut.

Coconut Cake

No one will ever know it came from a box! Enjoy your new-found knowledge! ;)


    7 thoughts on “Making a Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade…

    1. I tried both of these recipes this weekend for my brother-in-laws birthday cake and everybody raved about it! I was actually really surprised how the cake turned out :)

      • I usually do if I’m serving it later in the day or days later. If I’m serving it immediately, I don’t refrigerate. Be sure and let it sit out at room temp at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving if it’s been in the fridge.

    2. Thanks, Amy. I do nearly the same with every box mix I use. The only addition is 2 Tbl of instant pudding (powder form, not made up). If I’m making a light colored cake, I use instant vanilla pudding powder. If making chocolate or red velvet cake, then chocolate pudding powder. Just 2 Tbl, plus, as you did, replace the water called for with buttermilk. I’ve noticed that not only does the cake taste more homemade, but it also bakes flatter, without that dome that often has to be leveled before icing it. And yes, homemade buttercream is the only way to go! Thanks for your post!

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