If you don't have the time to bake from scratch but want the compliments that come with the presentation of a delicious cake, nothing works better than jazzing up a box of cake mix. A few additions can make an ordinary boxed cake taste as though it came from a fine bakery. Since some bakeries use these tricks, it may as well have. You won't be sacrificing the convenience of boxed cake either, as making a few changes likely won't take any longer than making the cake as originally instructed.
Melt unsalted butter and substitute it for the amount of oil listed on the directions of the cake box. A recipe is only as good as its ingredients, and butter will make your cake taste divine. One caveat: if you're watching your intake of saturated fat, stick with the oil. Butter has 7 g of saturated fat per tablespoon.
Add a package of pudding to the cake mix to give your cake extra richness and moisture. Experiment with different flavors; for example, a packet of pistachio pudding can add interest to a white cake mix. Increase the amount of butter or oil to 1/2 cup if the instructions call for less, and add an extra egg if you add pudding mix to your cake mix.
Substitute a more flavorful liquid for the water that cake mixes typically call for. Consider orange juice with a lemon cake mix, coconut milk with a yellow cake mix or a coffee liqueur with a chocolate cake mix. In the case of the liqueur, to prevent your cake from being too rich, substitute it for only half of the liquid.
Add a special ingredient after you've prepared the basic cake mix. A package of miniature chocolate chips added to a chocolate cake will add additional flavor and provide the cake with an exceptionally rich texture. Nuts, orange zest, sliced dried apricots - the ingredients you add to your cake are limited only by your imagination.
Avoid the canned frostings in the baking aisle of your supermarkets and create a frosting that will delight taste buds. Follow the lead of Anne Byrn, author of "The Cake Mix Doctor" and make a quick buttercream frosting, such as her quick caramel frosting. This frosting calls for butter, brown sugar, confectioner's sugar, milk and vanilla, all ingredients you are likely to have on hand.
Add pudding to your boxed cake mix when you plan to put together a tiered cake, or one that has sections carved out of it. The coarse crumb created by adding the pudding makes the cake much more stable.
You need not use every tip at once. Keep in mind that adding pudding mix, chocolate chips and coffee liqueur to the same cake mix will make it quite heavy and sweet. Unless that is the type of cake you are aiming for, use only one or two of those options.