My younger daughter has been asking me to make her a cake, and I’ve been putting her off. While I’ll bake all day and night, for some reason I almost never bake cakes. To me, cakes are for birthdays, and only to be made by grandmas. My grandma made the birthday cakes for all the cousins and me; my mom makes the cakes for my kids — that’s just the rules. (Side note, if you were a girl in the 80’s or 90’s and didn’t get one of those cakes with a Barbie standing in a giant cake hoop skirt, I just feel bad for you.)
But, my youngest is persuasive, and I love her, so I relented. Since I’m dedicating this cycle of columns to Pinterest recipes, I decided on one that’s more hack than recipe — and still somehow managed to mess it up. The idea is to doctor up a boxed cake mix to make it taste like a bakery-level product. Personally, if you’re going to do all that, I don’t see why you wouldn’t just bake it from scratch. But, I figured why not give it a shot. It’s simple enough, you just add an egg or two in addition to what the mix calls for, substitute milk for the water, and use melted butter, doubled in quantity instead of oil.
I didn’t realize I biffed it at first. I baked the layers for the cake, picked the kids up from school while they cooled, helped with snacks and homework, checked my agenda for the upcoming city council meeting, started dinner — you know, the usual.
Upon initial assessment, the finished cake seemed firmer than I expected, but since it’s been a dog’s age since I baked one, I didn’t think much of it. Then, while in the middle of dinner prep, I opened the microwave and there sat the bowl of no-longer melted butter that was supposed to have gone into the mix. Curse my life. The goof was related more to my lack of multitasking skills than any difficulty with the recipe, so you should be fine.
So, in the middle of all that, I had to make a second run to Walmart in one day, which is my personal hell. But, for you readers, I’ll do it.
New cake mix in hand, I redid the recipe, repeated the bake, cool, frost steps and turned it loose on my family to test. I used a standard Duncan Hines yellow cake mix because I wanted to test the hack with a simple flavor.
My oldest gave it a big ole ‘meh.’ She doesn’t like yellow cake. She doesn’t like cake when it’s warm. She doesn’t like the texture. She does like to complain though, so there’s that. My husband said he thought it was pretty good. He thought it had a nice, light texture and it was moist (another side note, I hate that word). My youngest daughter loved it and volunteered to eat whatever anyone else didn’t want. When I asked her why, she responded: “Because it’s cake.”
So, I guess I’m torn on this one. If you’re intimidated by the thought of making a cake from scratch, this probably is a decent hack for you. If you’re comfortable with baking, then you already know making a cake from scratch isn’t that intimidating, so you probably won’t find this any easier or more convenient.
Whichever is the case, give it a try.
Don’t forget the butter the first time, and drop me a line to let me know what you think.
Kim Shute can be reached at (815) 879-5200 or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Twitter at NT_Princeton2