We’ve all been there. It’s eight o’clock on a Saturday night, and you’ve just remembered that there is a church potluck after morning services the next day. You’ve been catching up on laundry, house cleaning, and play time all day long. You’re tired and don’t even want to think about pulling out all the stops for homemade lasagna, but at the same time, bringing chips and a couple of two liters would feel like a cop-out. Yeah, not going either of those routes. But, you do have a cake mix and a can of frosting in the cabinet. You bought it for just such a time as this. Too bad it’s going to taste like it came out of a box, but now isn’t the time to dabble in the details…. Or is it?
I am here to let you know that you can have a tasty cake straight from a box without doing anything out of the ordinary. And, you can double the amount of frosting you have in that can by adding one simple ingredient: Air. Let me help you out.
For a tastier, firmer cake, use these simple substitutes. First, pull out that box mix and your bowl. The box says to use water, oil, and eggs (probably three). Ignore that. You need to pull out milk, butter, and one extra egg. Just simply swap the water for milk. Then, double the amount of oil and swap it for butter and melt it. The real deal would be better than margarine, but that’s up to you. And last, but not least, add one more egg than they say to use. Mix well and bake as directed.
Another hint to make your cake more moist is an oldie but a goodie. Add about 1/2 a cup of mayonnaise or sour cream to the batter. Mix it in well, and bake as directed. Your cake will be good and moist.
Now, about that frosting. Scoop it into a mixing bowl, and beat it with a mixer for a few minutes. It will fluff right up, and you will end up with pretty much twice as much as normal. No need to worry about having enough.
Finally, once you get the cake baked, cooled, and iced, you can jazz it up a bit with some candy – any candy. I used fun-sized Hershey bars in the picture above. But try out M&M’s, Skittles, Starburst, Kisses, even peppermints or fruity candies, such as Jolly Ranchers or Life Savers. They add some color, and the kids will love you forever. Or, just add a few sprinkles if you don’t have candy. Of course, you don’t even have to add anything because simple is stunning.
If you want to write on your cake with icing, a good hint is to use a toothpick to trace out your message first. Then, go over it with your icing using a fine point tip. Also, a bit of food coloring to a bit of white icing will make things pop without causing a bunch of stress. (Though, to be honest, in the cake pictured above, I did use a different flavor for the orange icing. I saw it Wal-Mart and thought it would be a fun flavor to try since it was Orange-sicle. It was quite yummy, by the way.)
One final hint from a Southern gal: set your cake on a pretty plate. The plate doesn’t have to be expensive, just decorative. The one in the picture is a plastic plate from the Dollar Tree. But, because of the design, it adds a bit of glamor to a rather ordinary birthday cake.
And once you’ve done all that, go rest so you can enjoy your Sunday.
*I learned most of these hints on Pinterest, but the mayo/sour cream one came from my step-mom. I’ve done it for years, and it works wonders.
Happy Baking! And feel free to share your baking tips and shortcuts.