With other people my age putting thought and effort into what they bring as guests to other people’s homes, I thought maybe it’s time to grow up a little. Gone are the days when it’s cool to bring a box of Cosmic Brownies to a dinner party- after all, we’re not playing nearly as much Super Smash as we were ten years ago.
But what do you do when you’re pressed for time and not confident enough to bake a cake from scratch? It’s not even a matter of laziness for me: I’m broke, don’t bake often enough to buy the materials, and really don’t want to mess it up. So what’s a nice compromise between “terrified underachiever” and “pseudo-adult?”
Answer: augment boxed cake mix.
It’s really incredible how big of a difference it makes. Cakes made with even a couple ingredients added or switched out are richer, more flavorful, and more likely to make you feel sufficiently human. With these easy swaps, you’ll never bake a regular boxed recipe again.
These are ideas from Hello, Cupcake. This amazing book is full of cupcake-decorating ideas that look beautiful in the photos and will make people who eat them pat your shoulder and say “you tried.” (See below.)
Better Boxed Cake
- 1 box (18.25 oz) cake mix (vanilla, devil’s food, or yellow)
- 1 cup buttermilk (instead of water called for on the box)
- Vegetable oil (amount called for on box)
- 4 eggs (rather than however many are indicated on the box)
- Preheat oven to 350 F and line cupcake tins with paper liners.
- Follow instructions indicated on the box (mix everything together, whatever)
- Fill paper liners 2/3 full and bake according to instructions.
- Cool completely before icing.