Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Make the Perect Cake-From a Box

Thanks for sticking with me through yesterday's soapbox- it was just circling through my mind and until I got it out it was going to drive me crazy.

And now today, cakes. I am not a baker, chef, or registered dietitian-- all I know is every-time I make a cake I hear things like "I usually don't like cake, but this is good!" "Oh what is your secret?" "Can I have your recipe?"

When when I tell people I use a box mix- they rarely believe it. As I start describing what I do while I make the box mix- they all say, oh- that is what I did wrong. So while I might not know the science or reasons- this is what I do and it works really well.

How to Make a Perfect Cake From a Box


1. Ingredients- I do not have a brand preference but do like white cake the best myself. If you are making a white cake use just the egg whites as the recipe calls for.

2. Eggs- Get out the eggs you need first thing-room temperature eggs are better for baking. Get out the eggs and then preheat the oven to the correct temperature (usually 325). Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position- too high, the top will burn, too low it won't be a pretty color.3. Mix it Good!- The instructions call for 30 seconds on low and then a couple of minutes on high-- do this!! You need to start on low so the mix doesn't fly everywhere and then make sure you let it beat long enough, probably even longer than two minutes. I like using my kitchen aid and mix it until it almost starts to look light and fluffy.
4. Grease that Pan!- You will want to grease and flour the pan as you need to get the cake out of the pan. Some people like leaving the cake in the pan, frosting it and eating it from there-- but when you remove the pan from the oven, the pan is still going to be hot- and so it is going to keep cooking your cake. Your cake will not be as moist and soft if you leave it in the pan.
Since we are going to get the cake out of the pan, you need to grease it. Shortening, while nasty to touch, works best. I always stick my hand in a plastic baggy and dip that in the shortening and then my hand remains clean. Make sure you get all of the cracks and corners.

Then sprinkle a little flour in the pan and shake/bang it all around. This will help you see any shiny spots where you may have missed shortening. Shake out any excess flour.
5. Bake it- bake at the minimum time the directions call for and then check the cake. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean or really close, it is done. If not, cook a few more minutes. The top should be a light golden brown color.
6. Time It- Set a timer for ten minutes (otherwise you will get distracted and forget)- at the end of that ten minutes, get the cake out of the pan. I like to run a knife along the edge of the entire cake, then I place the board/tray on top of the cake and slowly flip the whole thing upside-down, holding the pan on very tightly. Then I carefully lift the cake pan up and away and beautiful.
If you do not have a cake tray, you can always get part of a cardboard box, cut it flat, and cover it with aluminum foil to use as a tray- just be careful to hold it in the middle as it could bend and break your cake in half.

7. Frost it- When the cake is cool frost it. Not all frosting is created equal. A good butter-cream frosting and fondant is great for decorating- but in my opinion doesn't taste nearly as good. Here is the recipe I use if I am not doing any fancy decorating, or even for the base layer when I am.
Butter Frosting from Home and Gardens Cookbook

1/3 cup butter or margarine
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk- plus a little more for thinning if desired
1 1/2 t. vanilla

1. In a mixing bowl beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup milk and vanilla.
2. Slowly beat in remaining powdered sugar. Beat in additional milk, if needed, to reach spreading consistency. If desired tint with food coloring. This frosts tops and sides of two 8 or 9" layers.

So there you have it- like I said, I don't know the science or reasons of why it all works-- but it works and will get your a yummy fluffy delicious cake right from a box.

Linking up with IA and Shawn



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33 comments:

  1. Great tutorial. I know I never leave the eggs out to get to room temperature. I'll have to try that.

    I have a marshmallow frosting recipe that I should share sometime. It's very easy, and super yummy.

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  2. That is an excellent idea about putting your hand in a plastic baggy before you smear the shortening on the pan! I'll be doing that from now on because I agree - touching that stuff is icky!

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  3. Now I want cake for breakfast . . . Yum!

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  4. One thing I like to do with a white cake mix is to really beat the egg whites well until they are super fluffy. It seems to make the cake better.

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  5. Yes, box cake is definately the best! I love yellow cake best. I have learned that the more you mix it, the better it turns out! Great advice. Also, if you add 1/4 cup of vinegar it makes it super moist and even more delicious!

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  6. And now I want cake. Or frosting.

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  7. That's just the way my granny does it and that's just how I do it... still with what works! and the exact same icing!

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  8. I actually PREFER cake mix cake to cake from scratch. Is there something wrong with me?

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  9. I'm a box-cake-baker - which is sacriligious to my mother, who is famous for baking & decorating cakes from scratch, but tastes good to me! Thanks for the tips! :)

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  10. I had a friend who put her cakes in the fridge or freezer...can't remember which. I have the rottenist luck getting them out of the pans...especially from a 9x13. Me of all people! Cakes are not my speciality. Cookies and brownies yes. hahaha.

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  11. I agree with an above comment, I definitely want some of that cake now!

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  12. Mmmm. The final product looks yummy! I love this tutorial!

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  13. I always cheat and use a cake mix from a box :). I used to have really good results with my mom's oven, but when we moved into our house I burnt every cake with my old stove and now I swear they don't get done. I haven't found the sweet spot in the oven just yet, but I'm trying :)

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  14. I rarely use a cake mx from a box because baking from scratch is my only talent but I do like them. They still taste good. However, brownies from scratch are not near as good as brownies from a box so I ALWAYS make them from a box. That makes me weird, right? Don't answer that.

    I'm literally drooling right now. My sweet tooth just kicked into high gear.

    Thanks for linking up, Emmy!

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  15. Very awesome tips... I am going to pass them along to Jeff since I have forever deemed him the baker of our house.

    You know for obvious reasons. ;)

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  16. Good tips! Cake is so awesome... :)

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  17. Now you make me want to have some cake! Yummy!

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  18. I would REALLY like some cake right now, although chocolate is my favorite ;)

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  19. YUM when will dessert be served

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  20. You are so right about not keeping with the 10 minutes in the pan because of forgetting! I do that ALL the time!

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  21. Thankfully, my cupcakes (out of a box) always come out great! I don't make cake because it's less exciting for me!! Great tips, some I will take with me!

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  22. I am not a cake person. I think pie should take over the world. In my family we have birthday pie. But I am going to have to try this. If people who don't like cake like this, well, maybe there is hope. Thanks for sharing your secrets!

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  23. As long as there is good frosting cake is yummy!:)

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  24. Great, now I want cake....

    I always take my cakes out of the pan but I've never warmed my eggs, good advice.

    Thanks for linking up and for making my already fat ass want to go downstairs and bake a cake!

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  25. This is my kind of cooking post!

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  26. This is great! I usually only make box mix cakes and brownies and I think they're delicious. I already do some of the tips you mentioned, but I'll definitely try the ones that I haven't done yet. I'm going to Pin this! Thanks for the info.

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  27. Stopping to let you know that this post was featured on this week's Tickled Pink link party! :) Thanks for linking up!!

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  28. If you have a little bit less of a sweet tooth, try adding just a pinch of salt to your icing, or use salted butter if the salt is a bit too much for you.

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  29. I do all of these things. I also beat the eggs until fluffy never mix with a spoon and throw in one of the kids' applesauce cups and when making chocolate cake throw in instant chocolate pudding.

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