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Make boxed cake taste more like homemade

By on March 14, 2011
hummingbirdcake

 

DEAR SARA:

What can I add to boxed cake to make it taste better? It’s not bad, but I’d like it to taste more homemade and not be so dry. — Penny, e-mail

DEAR PENNY:

You can add coffee in place of the water for chocolate cakes. Try carbonated soda pop, orange or pineapple juice or buttermilk instead of the water, or add 1 cup of sour cream to the batter or a tablespoon of meringue powder. You can add flavored extracts, too. I don’t mind the taste and texture of box mixes. I suggest you buy or borrow Taste of Home’s “Cake Mix Creations: 216 Easy Desserts that Start with a Mix” or “The Cake Mix Doctor” by Anne Byrn (www.cakemixdoctor.com). Both books offer wonderful recipes based on boxed cake mix. Anne Byrn’s Hummingbird Cake (banana/pineapple) is delicious.
As for the dryness, boxed cake mixes have come a long way and are usually moist. It sounds like you’re over baking your cakes or the oven temperature is off. The cake should spring back when you touch it and pull slightly from the sides of the pan. If you’re testing with a toothpick in the center of your cake, you’re looking for the toothpick to come out without batter on it. It’s OK if it has a couple of cake crumbs (just not a lot of damp crumbs).

DEAR SARA:

How long do you cook your chicken in a slow cooker? — Keriann, Ga.

DEAR KERIANN:

I cook my chicken (breast side down) for an hour on high and decrease the temperature and cook it for about 7 hours on low.

DEAR SARA:

I used to have a recipe for a Snickers dessert salad, but I lost it. Do you happen to know the recipe? My husband loved it. — Brenda H., e-mail

DEAR BRENDA:

There are a few variations on it. I’ll share two recipes that were shared on my community forums. I hope your husband enjoys them.

1 (3-1/2-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup milk
1 container whipped topping, thawed
8 apples (4 Granny Smith and 4 Red Delicious), sliced and chopped
6 Snickers bars, cut up

Mix the pudding with the milk. Stir. Fold in the whipped topping. Chill for an hour. Add the apples and the Snickers.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (12-ounce) container whipped topping, thawed
6 Snickers bars
4 to 6 Granny Smith apples

Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Cut Snickers into bite size pieces and add to cream cheese mixture. Chop the apples into chunks and mix. Chill 1 hour before serving.

DEAR SARA:

In your peanut butter ball recipe, I noticed you used Wilton candy melts. Any reason you chose these over chocolate chips? — Ellise, Florida

DEAR ELLISE:

I prefer them because they’re easy to melt in the microwave. They harden well, my kids can help make them without getting burnt fingers because it cools quickly yet remains dippable, and the candy melts come in tons of color, which can be fun for different holidays and occasions. Plus, the 14-ounce bag is just enough to make my recipe and dip a few graham crackers or pretzel rods to finish the rest. You can certainly use chocolate chips.

photo by norwichnuts

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About Sara Noel

Sara Noel owns Castalia Coffee Roasting Company, Follow me on Twitter

2 Comments

  1. Afford-Anything.com

    3/14/2011 at 3:29 pm

    I make a lot of boxed cakes that are pretty moist — try various brands; some are better at producing a moist cake than others. It’s worth spending an extra $1 on a box mix.

  2. Ralph Griffin

    4/17/2011 at 3:01 pm

    I add the “instant” pudding mix (dry from the box). It adds moisture and flavor. I don’t need to use the expensive lemon extract or chocolate chips. I wait until they are on sale at half price or less. If you just want it more moist without the added flavor, just use the vanilla flavor.

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