Transform a regular yellow cake mix into a festive layer cake to wow your holiday guests. So full of rich eggnog flavor, no one will ever guess you started with a box.
This cake has three parts: batter, frosting and sugared fruit topping. We'll start with the batter.
How to Make the Batter
Mix Cake Batter
Combine all the ingredients called for on your cake box instructions, taking care to double the portions. For one portion of water in this double batch, substitute eggnog. Then incorporate the add-ins: pumpkin pie spice and vanilla.
Grease three 9-inch pans (or four 8-inch pans), separating the batter equally. Once filled, tap each pan on the counter to release any air pockets. Bake according to the instructions on your box, typically about 28 minutes at 350° F.
As the cakes bake, move on to the fruit topping.
How to Make the Fruit Topping
Coat Fruit in Sugar Solution
Using a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a quick simmer. Stir long enough for the sugar to dissolve then remove from heat. Cool before adding the cranberries and blackberries. Gently stir to coat.
Remove from the sugar solution and strain. Set aside.
While the cakes cool completely, prepare the eggnog buttercream frosting.
How to Make the Eggnog Buttercream Frosting
Using a standing mixer, whip the frosting until all ingredients are fully incorporated and the texture becomes fluffy, about 5 minutes. Once the cakes are fully cooled, you'll be ready to assemble.
Assemble the Cake
Use a breadknife to level out the top of your cakes.
Add a generous amount of frosting on top of your first layer. Smooth to the sides, keeping a thick portion around the edges.
Using a cardboard cake round makes it easier to decorate on a surface you don't mind dirtying, then transfer the finished cake easily.
Continue with the second layer, inverting the cake and pressing down gently so the frosting starts to appear in between the layers.
Repeat until the third layer is on top. Fill any gaps in between layers with extra frosting.
Add frosting to the top. To get the "naked" effect as seen in this tutorial, use an offset spatula or table knife to smooth the edges, wiping most of the frosting off the cake layers.
Finally, sprinkle your set-aside fruit with sugar. Then assemble the fruit on top of your cake. Add more sugar just before serving, if needed.