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Weekend Cooking: How to Spruce Up a Cake Mix



This past week I prepared a Neapolitan Cake for my Book Club Party post on Doc by Mary Doria Russell.  The Neapolitan Cake recipe that I have is made with chocolate cake, strawberry cake, and topped with a butter cream frosting.  But, with school starting back up and my house still in the remodel stage, I was in a bit of time pinch;  so I decided to prepare my Neapolitan Cake with cake mixes, and spruce them up a bit.  It turned out wonderful!

Here are a few suggestions from the many ways to help make your cake mix cake a little more special.  Bake according to instructions on cake mix box.

Extra-special Chocolate Cake
Combine ingredients and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes): 

  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup strong coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
German Chocolate Bundt Cake
Prepare any chocolate cake mix according to directions, then add to the batter: 

  • 1 can of German chocolate frosting
Berry Delicious Strawberry Cake
Combine ingredients and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes): 

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 3-ounce package strawberry Jell-O
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 16-ounce package of thawed unsweetened strawberries, pureed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
For any flavor cake:
Prepare any cake mix according to directions, then each of the following: 

  • 1 extra egg
  • 1 3 ounce box instant pudding, any flavor
Liquid Substitutions
Substitute the liquid called for in cake mix directions with another liquid. Here are some of my favorites: 

  • Coffee liqueur
  • Espresso
  • Rum
  • Fruit juice
  • Buttermilk
  • Lemon-lime soda
  • Cola, Dr. Pepper, or Root Beer (for chocolate cake)
  • Red Wine (for dark chocolate cake)
Other Good Stuff
Prepare cake mix according to directions, then add one of the items listed: 

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 package of unsweetened Kool-Aid, any flavor
  • 1 package of mini chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa (for chocolate cake)

What are some of your favorite ways to spruce up a cake mix?


Weekend Cooking Logo Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Head over to her site to see delicious posts about all things food-related.

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  1. What a useful post. I don’t bake from cake mixes all that often, but sometimes they just seem to be right. I love all these ways to make a cake mix special.

    Comment by Beth F on August 27, 2011 at 8:32 am

  2. Several years ago I bought one of the Cake Doctor cookbooks, which is entirely recipes that use a cake mix, and then add various ingredients to eliminate the “cake mix” taste. Some were successful, some not.
    I love your list of substitutions — really helpful!

    Comment by TheBookGirl on August 27, 2011 at 10:41 am

  3. I will definitely save this post for later. Very useful indeed. Thank you!

    Comment by Rikki on August 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

  4. To tell you the truth, I’ve never used a cake mix. I didn’t even know they existed for ages. :<)

    Comment by Nan on August 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

  5. Great post! I especially love the liquid substitutions idea! I’m going to have to try the red wine in a chocolate cake. Mmmm… sounds delish!

    Comment by Beth S. on August 27, 2011 at 4:22 pm

  6. I’ll take the chocolate one and my hubby said he wants the berry one!

    Love all the info!
    Here’s My Recipe

    Comment by Vicki on August 27, 2011 at 4:42 pm

  7. I’m bookmarking this post. Very useful information for those times when I need a good shortcut. I like the idea of a neapolitin cake. I’ll bet it looked great.

    Comment by Margot on August 28, 2011 at 11:26 am

  8. I had the same thought as The Book Girl – those Cake Doctor books are great – she adds pudding, extracts, fresh fruit … all kinds of yummy ways to spice up a box mix.

    I hope your book discussion went well, and that you had no leftover cake!

    Comment by Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books on August 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm

  9. you guys can also add fruit into your cake mix like cherry’s in with the black velvet cake or even in with the chocolate cake mix actually pretty much any cake mix. cherries are universal just a tip for ya’ll

    Comment by Anonymous on April 14, 2013 at 5:43 pm

  10. Thanks for the tip!

    Comment by Lisa on April 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm

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