Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Alright all you bakers. I need help. Heidi's birthday was this past Monday and we had chocolate cake (not homemade) with cream cheese frosting (homemade). I think the frosting was alright but not as exciting as I'd hoped it would be. The cake was awful. Boxed cake mixes are usually fine. Maybe it was my pregnant taste-buds. I don't know. But it was fluffy and had no real substance to it.

Autumn's birthday is on Sunday and I have to redeem myself. No one else had problems with Heidi's cake -- but I can't eat another bite of it and I was looking forward to good cake this week.

So here's where ya'll come in. How do you make a box-cake taste more substantial? More homemade? Because I'm not up for making a cake from scratch. They just never work out for me. Plus, I've already bought a vanilla cake, as Autumn requested (and she's requested pink frosting). I've heard you can add sour cream and pudding. Does it really work? How does it change it? And what makes a frosting taste good? So many have way too much sugar. I usually do the Betty Crocker buttercream frostings and they taste okay, but I want something that tastes really good.


  1. Crystal said...
    For sure add pudding and sour cream. Remember the recipe I gave you for the Best Ever Bundt cake? It uses pudding and sour cream. You could just leave out the chocolate chips/chocolate bar. I think it just makes it more moist and dense. (There is another cake I came across here that does the same technique only for a chocolate cake.) As for the frosting, I stick with cream cheese frosting and sour cream frosting. I haven't come across a buttercream that I like very much...I generally find them too greasy.
    Jean said...
    Yes! Yes! Sour cream and pudding!! I discovered a recipe for a super duper yummy chocolate bundt cake that uses chocolate cake mix, but adds in sour cream and pudding. If you're using vanilla, then you could try to replicate it like this:

    Mix all ingredients together: 1 box vanilla cake mix, 1 (3.9-oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix, 1 cup veg oil, 4 eggs, 1/2 cup hot water, 1 cup sour cream

    (For the chocolate recipe, it also calls for 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 cup choc chips; don't know if the extract would be necessary if you're using vanilla-flavored cake mix and pudding, though.)

    Bake in a greased, floured Bundt pan for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

    That's the recipe, and I'm assuming it could adjust to vanilla pretty easily. However, if you don't want to go with a bundt, then you could probably use a couple of cake pans and then just decrease the bake time accordingly. (I'm sure you'd know what to do. You're a smart cookie.) Hope this helps. Happy baking!
    Melody said...
    I can't help with the cake sorry!
    But my favorite Buttercream frosting recipe is:
    1c Shortening
    2sticks butter
    1 tsp Almond flavoring
    1 tsp Vanilla
    4 Tbp Milk
    2 lbs sifted powdered sugar.

    (the key is the Almond flavoring. It really adds an awesome flavor)
    Happy birthday to your girls!!
    Anna said...
    I agree with everyone else that using sour cream and pudding makes the cake a lot more moist. I also don't like buttercream, so I just take softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and a little bit a milk. You can add as much sugar as you like. Good luck!!
    I can't believe how old your kids are!!!! :)
    Trishelle said...
    Amen to sour cream! It's also GREAT in peanut butter cookies...even the store bought packages.
    Lisa said...
    I know a lady who swears by using milk instead of water, but I've never tried it. Good luck!
    Rae said...

    *ahem* Remember the recipe Heidi posted, Mojo's Birthday Cake, which I emailed to you? It has both pudding and sour cream, and it's the yummiest in the world, so I assume sour cream and pudding can only make things fact, it sounds like Crystal's cake is like Mojo's.
    Another thing that makes a cake mix better is to replace the asked-for oil with melted butter (in the same amount). Also, I've heard that Target's brand of cake mix is the yummiest cake mix.
    I've also heard that freezing frosting makes it more "whipped" when you're ready to use it? I might be very wrong. I really loved the "frosting" on Phill's birthday cake--it was homemade whipped cream with a little sugar, some vanilla extract and a teensy bit of cherry extract. And of course it was really light and fluffy and was amazing with the chocolate cake. Since Autumn's cake is vanilla, maybe you could add some cherry extract and vanilla extract to a homemade-whipped-cream "frosting"--those flavors would be delicious together!
    Emily said...
    My cream cheese frosting recipe is just cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar, maybe a little vanilla. It works great on Sour Cream Sugar cookies. My hint is to use the cream cheese and butter straight from the fridge. I like it really thick. Wow, I saw your pregnancy icon, 152 days? I need to get ready! Are you guys finding out the gender?
    Abby Hanson said...
    Crystal, I actually just made the Best Ever Bundt Cake for a church activity! Didn't even stop to think about what the pudding and sour cream do to it... Thanks!

    Jean, I'm going to try using your chocolate recipe -- but go vanilla. I'll let you know how it goes!

    Mel, I love the almond flavoring idea. I think that's going to help.

    Anna -- I KNOW!!! How the heck did my girls get so big?? After Sunday, a SEVEN and a FIVE year old? REALLY?

    Rae, haha...I did NOT make that cake. :) I just wanted a picture for the post....

    Emily, we're definitely hoping to find out the gender! Here's hoping that the baby cooperates. :) I have an appointment for the 14th. What about you??
    Heidi said...
    We do sour cream, extra eggs, and play around with liquids (try milk, orange juice, etc instead of water) and/or extracts (almond, orange, vanilla, etc.) Then extras - we do chopped nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, diced up candy, pie filling, fruit, etc. We get pretty wild and crazy with our cake mixes. I also have a staple chocolate cake recipe I love from scratch (so dense and rich) and a buttermilk cake recipe we adore. For icing we do cream cheese (butter, cream cheese, vanilla or almond extract, milk, powdered sugar) or a brown sugar caramel glaze (oh, so yummy) most of the time.

    Let me know if there were any recipes you couldn't find on our blog and I'll make sure I get them to you. :)
    Liz said...
    I have a frosting dilemma too, so I cant help you there, but it sounds like you might have some good ideas already. (I used to never mind storebought frosting-even preferred it-but for some reason in the last year I don't like any of it! One time I bought some and I swear it tasted like oil!) As for the cake, I did something very simple for Seth's birthday cake, and it was really good. I split a normal cake mix batter in half into two 9x13 pans, baked them, cooled them, and then I mixed a block of thawed cream cheese with a can of cherry pie filling, and spread that between the layers. I used a Super Moist white cake mix. I just used storebought vanilla frosting, which was only a disappointment to me. The kids could've cared less. But I really liked the cake, and so did the kids. In fact, Seth liked the filling better than the cake . . .
    Love you, I look forward to hearing about what you do.
    Leah Marie said...
    We have both the 'cake doctor' and 'chocolate cake doctor' recipe books. If you haven't heard of them, its books FULL of creative ways to make prepared mixes into the best cakes and cupcakes ever. Let me know if you'd like to borrow. :-)
    Abby Hanson said...
    Leah, I would LOVE to borrow those cookbooks! I'll just have to see if I can get over there before I have to make the cake on Sunday. I think I'm pretty close to knowing what I want to try so we'll see. I'll call you.

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