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Bless Your Spoon: Spice up box cake recipes

I have a thing for cake. Well, not just cake – but vintage cake recipes. I could spend every day editing and rewriting old cake, pie, cookie, and dessert recipes if time allowed – one might call it a passion.

Discovery of old, metal boxes chocked full of vintage, handwritten recipe cards are nothing less than treasure. Thoughts fill my head of obscure, never seen before, one-of-a-kind recipes from back in the day.

Anne Byrn must have had the same thoughts when writing her first cookbook, “The Cake Mix Doctor.” Anne, the former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Tennessean, has published many best-selling cookbooks. By as early as 2013, Anne had sold over 3.5 million books.

In high school, Anne and I were best friends. I spent many overnights at her home and remembered Anne’s mother, Bebe, as well known for her baking skills. A homemade cake was always sitting on the kitchen table. I imagine many recipes for Anne’s first book came from an old, metal file box that once belonged to Bebe.

Lately, I’ve been working on a cookbook project. Included here are a few recipes that call for a box mix. You do save steps – yes, I hear you busy moms – and any step’s a timesaver.  The packaging for cake mix has changed – there’s less volume to a box. The remedy is adding flour to the mix.

While I bake most cakes and desserts from scratch – boxed baking is a no-shame skill. When a recipe calls for frozen fruits – substitute fresh, and use nothing but premium ingredients and extracts.

Tricks to the mix – sift a few times and fold in fresh.

EAT A PEACH CAKE

4 beaten eggs

1 boxed Duncan Hines white cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 oz. peach gelatin

1 cup Wesson vegetable oil

1 ½ cups diced, fresh peaches

Icing

12 oz. thawed whipped topping

6 oz. instant vanilla pudding

1 ½ cups diced, fresh peaches

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add cake mix, flour, and gelatin while alternating with vegetable oil. Mix well. Fold in diced peaches until well blended. Bake in a well-greased and floured 9 x 13 pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until tests done. Cool completely before icing.  For the topping, in a mixer bowl, combine whipped topping, vanilla pudding, and fresh peaches. Mix well. Spread on cooled cake. Refrigerate until serving.

NECTAR OF APRICOT CAKE

4 beaten egg yolks

1 boxed Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 oz. lemon gelatin

¾ cup Wesson vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. pure lemon extract

4 stiffly beaten egg whites

Glaze

2 cups confectioners sugar

Juice of two fresh lemons

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add cake mix and gelatin while alternating with oil and lemon extract. Mix well. Fold in beaten egg whites until well blended. Bake in a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan in a preheated 325-degree oven for 1 hour or until cake tests done. For the glaze, combine juice from lemons with sugar until well blended. Pour mixture over cake. Allow cake to cool completely before removing from pan. Pour icing over hot cake.

SPICED FRUIT NUT AND CARROT CAKE

1 boxed Duncan Hines spice cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups grated carrots

8 oz. drained, crushed pineapple

¾ cup chopped pecans

Frosting

16 oz. softened cream cheese

2 cups confectioners sugar

8 oz. thawed, frozen whipped topping

½ cup chopped pecans

In a mixer bowl, prepare cake mix according to pkg. directions, adding flour. Mix well. Fold in carrots, pineapple, and pecans separately, mixing well after each addition until well blended. Bake in well-greased and floured 9-inch cake pans or one 9 x 13 baking pan, and bake in a preheated, 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until tests done. Cool completely before icing. For the frosting, in a mixer bowl, beat cream cheese with powdered sugar. Fold in whipped topping and blend well. Frost cake and sprinkle with pecans. Refrigerate until serving.

CHIPPY CHOCOLATE CAKE

6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

¾ cup chopped pecans

4 beaten eggs

8 oz. sour cream

1 boxed Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

Sm. box instant chocolate pudding mix

½ cup Wesson vegetable oil

½ cup water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a bowl, toss chocolate chips and pecans in 1 Tbsp. of dry cake mix. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sour cream and mix well. Add cake mix, flour, and chocolate pudding while alternating with vegetable oil, water, and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans until well blended. Bake in a greased and floured tube pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 50 minutes or until cake tests done.

PINA COLADA CAKE

4 beaten eggs

1 boxed Duncan Hines white cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 oz. vanilla instant pudding

¼ cup Wesson vegetable oil

3/4 cup water

1/3 cup 80-proof dark rum

1 cup flaked coconut

Frosting

8 oz. crushed pineapple and juice

3 oz. coconut or instant vanilla pudding

1/3 cup 80-proof dark rum

8 oz. thawed, frozen whipped topping

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add cake mix, flour, and pudding while alternating with vegetable oil, water, and rum.  Mix well. Fold in coconut until well blended. Bake in two 9-inch round, well-greased, and floured cake pans and bake in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until tests done. Cool completely before icing. For the icing, in a mixer bowl, combine pineapple with juice, pudding mix, and rum. Mix well. Fold in whipped topping and blend well. Frost cake.  Refrigerate until serving.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE DREAM CAKE

4 beaten eggs

8 oz. sour cream

1 boxed Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 oz. instant vanilla pudding

½ cup Wesson vegetable oil

½ cup water

6 oz. chocolate chip morsels

1 oz. grated German chocolate

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sour cream and mix well. Add cake mix, flour, and pudding while alternating with oil and water. Mix well. Fold in chocolate morsels and grated German chocolate until well blended.  Bake in a well-greased, floured tube pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 55 minutes or until done.

EASY STRAWBERRY CAKE

4 beaten eggs

1 boxed Duncan Hines cake mix

¾ cup all-purpose flour

3 oz. strawberry gelatin

1 cup Wesson vegetable oil

½ cup water

1 Tbsp. fresh strawberry juice

5 oz. sliced fresh strawberries

Icing

1 stick softened, salted butter

1 small pkg. confectioner’s sugar

5 oz. sliced fresh strawberries

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add cake mix, flour, and gelatin while alternating with oil, water, and berry juice. Mix well. Fold in berries until well blended. Bake in two greased and floured 9-inch cake pans in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes. For icing, in a bowl, beat butter and sugar together. Stir in berries and any juice necessary to make spreadable consistency.

THE VIN BLANC CAKE

4 beaten eggs

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup white sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 boxed Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 oz. instant vanilla pudding

¾ cup Wesson vegetable oil

¼ cup Riesling wine

¾ cup water

½ cup finely chopped pecans

Glaze

1 stick salted butter

1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

¼ cup Riesling wine

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugars, cinnamon, and mix well. Add cake mix, flour, and pudding while alternating with oil, wine, and water. Mix well. Sprinkle pecans in bottom of a greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. For the glaze, in a pan, combine butter, sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Add wine, and cook 1 minute. Spoon half of mixture onto hot cake still in pan. Allow to stand 10 minutes. After removing cake from pan, spoon remainder of glaze over cake. Also, you can bake in a 9 x 13 cake pan.

VINTAGE RECIPE PLUM CAKE

4 beaten eggs

3 small jars baby food plums with tapioca

1 boxed Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. cloves

½ cup Wesson vegetable oil

¼ cup water

2 drops red food coloring

1 cup flaked coconut

Glaze

1 juiced lemon

1 cup sugar

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add baby food and mix well. Add cake mix, flour, cinnamon, and cloves while alternating with Wesson oil, water, and food coloring. Mix well. Fold in coconut, until well blended. Bake in a greased, floured tube pan in a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes or until done. For glaze, in a pan, combine lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour glaze over hot cake.

EASY PINK LEMONADE CAKE

3 oz. lemon gelatin

¾ cup boiling water

4 beaten eggs

1 boxed Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup Wesson oil

1 tsp. lemon extract

Few drops pink coloring

Glaze

Small can frozen lemonade

1 cup sugar

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Cool and set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add cake mix and flour while alternating with oil, lemon extract, and coloring. Mix well. Bake in a greased, floured tube pan in a 325-degree oven for 45 minutes or until done. For the glaze, combine lemonade and sugar. Spoon over hot cake.

MANDARIN ORANGE- PINEAPPLE CAKE

4 beaten eggs

1 boxed Duncan Hines cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

11 oz. chopped Mandarin oranges

Icing

Lg. box vanilla instant pudding

20 oz. crushed pineapple and juice

16 oz. Cool Whip

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add cake mix and flour while alternating with oil. Mix well. Fold in oranges until well blended.  Bake in a greased, floured tube pan in a preheated 325-degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until done. Remove from pan, cool, and cut into 4 layers. For the icing, add pudding to pineapple juice and whip. Add pineapple and fold in Cool Whip until blended. Ice between layers and on top and sides.

YUM YUM CAKE

1 beaten egg

1 boxed Duncan Hines cake mix

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 stick softened, salted butter

Filling

2 beaten eggs

8 oz softened cream cheese

1 lb. confectioners sugar

In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Add cake mix, flour, and butter. Mix well. Press into bottom of a lightly butter-greased 9 x 13 cake pan. For the filling, in a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add cream cheese and powdered sugar and mix well. Spread mixture over top of cake. Bake in a 300-degree oven for 40 minutes or until tests done. Cut in squares to serve.