Learn how to doctor up a yellow cake mix! Add some homemade frosting and no one will ever know this cake started with a cake mix! Lots of tips and step-by-step photos teach you how to bake this doctored cake mix recipe!
Sometimes a box cake mix is a perfect base for your cake because you want to cut a corner or two, or because time is of the essence, or it doesn't matter if you cut the corner (cake pops!), or just because you want to! I get it, there is no shame in not baking a cake completely from scratch. While I bake some cakes from scratch there are other times that I love to start with a boxed cake mix. My better than sex cake recipe starts with a chocolate cake mix, and let me tell you that cake is a winner!
I tested numerous yellow cake mixes that you can find at most grocery stores but found these two to have the best tastes according to family and friends, and me!
I found they tasted very similar, the Pilsbury was a bit moister while the Betty Crocker was a tiny bit fluffier. The main difference was the color, the Pilsbury was very yellow in color, you might not realize it if you only bake the Pilsbury but if you bake it next to the Betty Crocker you will. My mom actually preferred the BC cake mix just because of the dark yellow color of the Pilsbury cake. Duncan Hines makes a good one too, we just found these were our top two.
The truth is you can use any cake mix you want and you should have pretty good results. These cake mixes called for the same additions; 1 Cup of Water, ½ Cup of Oil, and three large eggs. But the Pilsbury bake times were significantly longer than the Betty Crocker bake times. When adding the additional ingredients called for below I found the bake time to be closer to the suggested Betty Crocker time, for both doctored up cake mixes.
To doctor up a cake mix you'll take the normal cake mix ingredients and switch them up a bit.
- Cake Mix. This is the base you will need. Different brands make different size cake mixes, for this recipe you will need 1 -15.25oz Yellow Cake Mix. I prefer Betty Crocker or Pilsbury brands. While Pillsbury had a great flavor it was aggressively yellow in color which turned some of my taste testers off.
- Large Eggs. We add a full extra egg to the cake mix, this helps create a fluffier, richer cake. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature, you can do this quickly by placing them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes before using them.
- Vegetable Oil. Vegetable oil creates an incredibly moist cake for days! I have tested using melted butter but I find that it doesn't add much more flavor at all and its moisture content is not as high as oil so I stick with the oil!
- Buttermilk and Sour Cream. Cake mixes call for water but to increase flavor and richness we replace the water and use buttermilk and sour cream instead. They both need to be at room temperature though. Room temperature ingredients help make sure everything can evenly combine for the best version of your cake!
- Vanilla Extract. Adding a little bit of pure vanilla extract just gives the cake a little something extra, we never skip it!
Some people swear by adding a box of pudding mix into a cake mix but we found it didn't really do much more than the ingredients above did!
You could add some mini chocolate chips into the batter if you wanted! Or why not make it a birthday cake flavor by adding some sprinkles (the jimmies kind of sprinkles) to the cake batter!
Preheat your oven to 350F/180C and spray two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick baking spray, my preferences are Bakers Joy or Pam for Baking. Set the pans aside.
In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients. You want to make sure you mix well enough that there are no traces of egg left behind but you don't want to overmix the batter.
The Pilsbury cake batter was quite thin while the Betty Crocker cake batter was thicker. The BC is in the glass bowl below and the Pilsbury cake batter is in the two cake pans in the photo beneath it.
Pour the cake batter evenly between the two prepared pans and bake.
For 8-inch cakes I found they baked in the 25-30 minute mark as opposed to the longer times the cake box suggested. Let the cake pans cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before inverting the cake out directly onto a wire rack to cool completely.
You can, of course, use store-bought frosting but I find if you make your own frosting for this cake no one will ever know the cake came from a cake mix!
Some frostings you might like:
- Fudgy Chocolate Frosting
- Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Strawberry Frosting
- Coffee Frosting
- Peanut Butter Frosting
- Vanilla Buttercream
I frosted mine with my SMB recipe first I added some to a layer in the center of the cake, I used an angled spatula to spread it into an even layer then I piped a buttercream dam around the edges and added blackberry jam in the center. The frosting dam helps keep everything in place. Then I placed the second cake layer on top upside down, this helps create a flat top.
I then did a "crumb coat" by using a flat spatula to ice the sides and I used a cake scraper or bench scraper to remove excess frosting. Then I let the cake chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Finally, I added more frosting then used a small angled spatula pressed against the cake while I turned the cake turntable to create the ripples of frosting decoration.
And who doesn't love some sprinkles added?! After these extra steps, no one will ever know this started from a standard cake mix box! I hope you love this Doctored Yellow Cake Mix.
How to freeze
Cake layers are perfect for freezing. To freeze the cake layers let them cool completely on a wire rack. Once totally cooled wrap an individual cake layer in plastic wrap tightly, then wrap again, and finally wrap in aluminum foil. The three layers prevent freezer burn from happening.
When ready to use the cake layers place the wrapped cake layer on the counter at room temperature for an hour or two to thaw. Depending on how frozen your cake layer is and how warm the room temperature affects how long the cake will take to thaw out.
Can you double
You can most certainly double this recipe to make 4 round cake layers or 2 really deep cake layers. I suggest pressing the 2X button on the recipe card below to double the ingredient quantities and make sure you have a large enough mixing bowl to hold all of the cake batter.
More cake recipes
For another doctored-up cake mix, you gotta try my Crack Cake Recipe!
My friend Mandy makes the most gorgeous doctored cake recipes, this Almond Cake is next on my list to try!
★★★★★ Please let me know if you make this recipe by leaving a star rating and comment below!Print
- 1 - 15.25oz Yellow Cake Mix (I prefer Betty Crocker or Pilsbury)
- 4 Large Eggs, at room temperature
- 4oz (½ Cup) Vegetable Oil
- 6oz (¾ Cup) Buttermilk
- 3oz (⅓ Cup) Sour Cream
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- Preheat your oven to 350F/180C and spray two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick baking spray, my preferences are Bakers Joy or Pam for Baking. Set the pans aside.
- In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients. You want to make sure you mix well enough that there are no traces of egg left behind but you don't want to overmix the batter.
- Pour the cake batter evenly between the two prepared pans and bake. For 8-inch cakes I found they baked in the 25-30 minute mark as opposed to the longer times the cake box suggested. Let the cake pans cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before inverting the cake out directly onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 30
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: yellow cake mix recipe, doctored up cake mix, cake mix from a box but better
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