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2davidc8's avatar

How can you make cake and muffins from boxed cake mixes more moist?

Asked by 2davidc8 (7756points) July 17th, 2014

I’m talking about packaged mixes like Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. It seems that if you follow the directions on the box, the cake or muffin always comes too dry, or too light and dry. Do you have any tricks to make them more moist?

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23 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

add a bit more milk?

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

The small jars of baby food, apple sauce, pears, carrots (we used to make some delicious cookies with that) pumpkin, whatever sounds best with the flavor you plan to use.
The empty jars are great for storing screws, buttons, all sorts of things which tend to scatter.

chyna's avatar

Add a tablespoon of vanilla.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Add a bit more butter with that bit of more milk.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ve seen some recipes that add pudding mix to the mix. Another I have seen is adding sour cream. You could also try adding more oil. If it calls for a quarter cup add an extra tablespoon. For chocolate cake you can add a small amount of apple sauce.

Or, try making a cake from scratch.

Edit: I just remembered that your oven temp can dry out a cake. If it’s too hot or too cold I think it can happen. Also, you might have to adjust for different pans. Glass pan different than metal pan, and also if you live in high altitudes.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

I wouldn’t even try. Cakes made from boxed mixed always have an odd texture and an “off,” slightly chemical taste (at least for me).

I knew someone who claimed that sifting the dry ingredients and adding vegetable oil would improve a boxed cake mix. She never asked for my opinions or advice, so I never told her that her “doctored” bake goods were awful.

By the way, I also think that boxed-mix brownies taste like chemistry lab experiments.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Chocolate cakes add a jar of baby food BEETS color and moisture. Yum, sweetness too!

jca's avatar

To me, box mixes are moist enough. You could add sour cream or mayonnaise. My grandmother used to have a recipe for chocolate cake that had a cup of mayo in it. You don’t taste mayo, as it’s all blended in, and basically it’s oil, eggs and whatever anyway.

To me, canned icing is what tastes awful.

I have made good cakes from mixes by taking canned peaches, cutting them up into dice size pieces, draining the juice out. Take the juice and saute it in a pan with some butter and brown sugar. Pour that into a cake pan and then put the dice sized pieces of peach on top of that. Pour the cake mix, bake (you will have to bake it longer than usual because of the fruit and sauce). It’s like peach upside down cake. Everyone loves it. I’ve brought it to pot luck breakfasts at work and people all say they like it.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

>To me, canned icing is what tastes awful.

Yes! And, what about that decorative “icing” that comes in plastic squeeze tubes?

Years ago, I had a colleague who baked a cake for each staff member’s birthday. She used boxed cake mixes, canned icing, and Cake Mate decorations. Her creations were awful. Of course, it’s the thought that counts, so the birthday person always thanked her, and none of us wanted to be cruel or hurt this woman’s feelings.

We did try, once, to stop the endless cake parade. During a staff retreat, someone suggested that the frequent cakes, as wonderful as they might be, were expensive and lots of work for Judy, and that maybe we should give her a break after all those years of making hundreds of cakes (we’d planned this strategy, in advance and as a group). Judy started to cry uncontrollably. After that, we just let the issue slide.

ibstubro's avatar

There’s a recipe where you mix a can of fruit pie filling into a boxed mix and it’s wonderful. Very moist, but you still frost it. The original called for a chocolate cake and cherry pie filling. I made it with white cake and blueberry filling and it was great, too. I have raspberry filling currently, but I’ve not tried it.

If you want me to hunt up a recipe, holler.

I would add a little more oil, and bake a little less, for a standard cake. I usually set the oven 5° less, anyway. I’ve also heard replacing some or all of the oil with applesauce makes a moist cake. Maybe try adding ⅓ cup applesauce.

2davidc8's avatar

Thanks to all of you for your suggestions!
If I just follow the box directions, the results have generally been unsatisfactory—to me, at least. That’s why I asked the question. I’ve heard of adding an extra egg, but since I’m watching my cholesterol, I’ve not wanted to try this. I’ve also heard of adding a little extra oil.
@ibstubro Yes, your method sounds great! If it’s not too much trouble, can you give me some more details? Like, do you use the whole can of pie filling for just one cake?
@jca Wonderful idea! With your method, no frosting needed!

ibstubro's avatar

Here’s the recipe, @2davidc8. It’s every bit as good as the picture looks. The frosting was delicious, like fudge, but I have also used regular homemade and canned frosting. The cake is to moist the canned frosting will tend to stay sticky and maybe shift from the top to the sides a bit. It’s hard to credit that stirring 3 things together can result in something so good.

I look for sales on the filling, or you can sometimes get it cheap at Big Lots, etc.

2davidc8's avatar

@ibstubro Looks like a great cake to take to potlucks! Thank you!

ibstubro's avatar

Have fun with it, @2davidc8. You’ll look at the cake mix aisle and the pie filling section in a whole new way! Spice cake with apple pie filling! Yum. :)

2davidc8's avatar

@ibstubro OK, I’m getting hungry now, and it’s still 3 hours to dinnertime!

ibstubro's avatar

I’m noshing on some huge boiled shrimp, @2davidc8. I felt your pain.

jca's avatar

@2davidc8: I have heard of adding an extra egg, too, just like you said. Even if you’re watching your cholesterol, the additional egg divided up into the serving size of a slice of cake probably won’t be that much more cholesterol. You figure if you get 16 slices out of a cake mix, divide that extra egg into 16 and that’s the amount of additional cholesterol that you’re eating. Not too bad.

2davidc8's avatar

@jca Come to think of it, adding mayo is like adding extra egg as well as extra oil. Maybe that’s why it works. About the extra egg, yes, I understand you, except in my case, over 2–3 days I’ll probably eat a lot more than 1/16 of the cake! Haha

JLeslie's avatar

Wouldn’t extra eggs make it rise a little more? I know I put extra egg in brownies for my husband because he likes them more cake like, and I think it ruins them. I like them dense and chewy.

ragingloli's avatar

Your husband is right, you know?

JLeslie's avatar

Never. It’s not a real brownie the way he likes it. Some people put icing on brownies. That also is wrong.

jca's avatar

I like nuts on brownies, which goes with my general liking of additional texture.

susanc's avatar

I’ve always doctored cake-mix cakes because by themselves they taste like cake-mix cakes. They have a lot of tropical oils in them because these are cheap (because US corporations can twist the economic arms of small tropical nations as easy as, well, pie). These are the source of a lot of the off-taste; cake is supposed to be made with butter, not palm oil.

Add lots of vanilla to chocolate cake; add extra cinnamon, allspice, cloves to spice cake,
add cinnamon to yellow or chocolate cake, blah blah blah. Be fearless. In addition, use huge gobs of sour cream and some water in place of the milk; just throw the sour cream into a measuring cup and add enough (or milk or Triple Sec or some other highly flavored
booze, if this works for you: remember the alcohol will burn off, you will not be “drinking” it) to get the amount of liquid they tell you the cake needs. Don’t mess around too much with the number of eggs they recommend, because the white act as a binder and you need that. Throw in ground nuts (you can get almond meal already ground but if you want some other nuts ground you can chop them up by hand or throw them in a coffee grinder for a few seconds). Unless you drown the batter in excessive liquid, it’s almost impossible to mess up. Be brave.

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