Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Yellow Homemade Cake Mix

This is my cake mix.

Cake mixes. Who uses them? I think from the main stream baking point of view here in the USA it is pretty clear that most "middle of the road" every day cooks use cake mix. I know very few bakers who make them from scratch anymore. Which is too bad because we really have come far from how good cakes used to taste. I honestly love fresh from the oven scratch cake. Don't get me wrong, even I have used a mix in a pinch, but the flavor is always so boxed. I've always regretted it. I know there are a lot of folks who don't even know what scratch cake tastes like. So, when I decided to try a few cake mix recipes of my own that had the final product turn out nice but not taste boxed, it became really crucial to have people test the recipe who also liked scratch cakes. Finally after several disasters and a few good days...I came up with this recipe. Good tender crumb that holds together well enough to decorate with good flavor and no hint of a boxed cake taste. Another thing I wanted to do was make the mix reasonable accessible to those who had never used cake or speciality flour in their kitchen. Coming as a big shock to professional bakers, I measure with cups and spoons here on the blog because, lets face it, this blog isn't necessarily for the benefit of the seasoned bakers (though many learn a lot here) but for the students I know and love who have no idea where to start sometimes. So, please be patient with me for trying to take it to the masses. It just seems like a lost art that shouldn't be lost. If you happen to be one of those beginner bakers, please read my blog entry for "overnight started bread" for directions on how to measure flour and liquid. There is a method.

Do you know what else I wanted? I wanted to be able to use the same 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and 1 1/3 cup water it takes to make most cake mixes. Is that crazy?!

Finally what I came up with looked like this. Mr. Putt Putt says it tastes just like his mother's cake in 1955. So there. Take that. She was an amazing cook.
I really like it with a little flavored oil added to the mix but you don't have to add those if you don't have them. Almond or champagne being my favorite oil based flavors by far though orange brandy is divine. This can be made into a lemon cake by adding the zest of two lemons to the mix or orange. Using chopped maraschino cherries to make a cherry cake also works wonderfully. I'm still working on my fool proof chocolate cake mix.

Okay, here's the recipe. I use all purpose flour since most people don't have cake flour laying around. Again, I'm trying to make this as accessible to regular beginning bakers as possible and recognize that a few of you don't even know that there is a difference between different flours. If you use cake flour, use 5 cups and omit the cornstarch. It is only necessary with all purpose flour to lower the protein content and make it more conducive to tender cake production. However that being said, the cornstarch adds a little more moisture retention to the mix and I love it for that.

My Chef Tess Cake mix dry ingredients:
4 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cup sugar
2T baking powder
1T salt
1 cup shortening (or butter )
1T double strength vanilla
Sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt through a flour sifter at least once to remove extra lumps. Combine shortening (or butter) with dry ingredients and vanilla in a Kitchen Aid type mixer with paddle attachment. Mix until well combined. If you don't have a mixer, it also works to cut the shortening into the flour as you would for pie crust and then run the mix through a hand held flour sifter (did you see the picture?) to make the mixture more smooth. The metal flour sifters are available to purchase at most grocery stores and baking sections of Wal-mart or Target.

Yields 9 cups cake mix. If you use butter, please keep your mix in the fridge!

4 1/2 cups mix equal to one boxed cake mix:

Combine with 3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/3 cup water
200 strokes by hand or 3 minutes medium speed.

Bake time 350 degrees:
Pan size: 2 8 inch 33-35 minutes
2 9 inch 28-31 minutes
13 by 9 inch 32-35 minutes
bundt 38-43 minutes
24 cupcakes 18-21 minutes
High altitude: stir 1/4 cup all purpose flour into mix. Mix as directed.

More cake mixes to follow as experimentation continues.

There you go. Smooooches!! I have several bakers on my friend's list from Face Book who are testing this recipe but I would love other feedback as well. Please feel free to email me with your results and any questions you may have.


Olivia said...

I grew up on yellow cake from the box. My mama always used it to make pineapple upside down cake (my fave). I'm so excited to try this.

One question: is it cheaper than buying the boxed version when there's a case lot sale?

P.s. I just bought converted brown rice and can't wait to try your Ricey Roni with asparagus and salmon. Hooray for converted rice!

Love ya!

ES said...

Could you make this with whole grain flours? Allso could you make this with stevia and or honey etc?

Dori said...

I haven't used a cake mix in years...growing up in a 3rd world country I just always thought everything was made from scratch.

Doing away with the "creaming butter and sugar" part of the old Betty Crocker recipes made a HUGE difference! I'll have to try this one out...never thought to use corn starch.

salena said...

I will try it for the twins bday next week! It looks so yummy! I'll let you know how we loved it..if I can manage not to mess it up:)

Chef Tess said...

Olivia, buying the mix when it is on sale case lot is hard to say it is cheaper, but if you already have flour and shortening on hand and don't have to purchase a mix then it is free with what you already have on hand, does that make sense? It is also okay to double the recipe and make 4 mixes at one time. I'm excited to hear about your experimentation with the ricey-roni. Please let me know how it goes. Smooches.

Chef Tess said...

Ariana, you can make this with whole grain flour. My suggestion would be to use soft wheat, as when it is ground very fine it will be very close to cake flour. If you use hard wheat, increase the cornstarch to 3/4 cup and reduce the wheat flour to 4 1/4 cup. Also it may be necessary to use 1/3 cup more water with the mixes, as the fiber in the flour will be increased. Stevia can be used as well as xylitol. I have not used honey with the mix yet and will have to get back with you on that. I imagine you could use 1/2 cup honey mixed with the 1 cup water when you make the batter and then you wouldn't need to increase the water at all. Have I totally confused you? Hopefully not. Excellent questions!

Gourmified said...

Oh my goodness! I have three yes THREE cakes I need to make this week and I'll definitely try this one out! I can't wait! I'll be sure to let you know what I think once it's all done.

I have vanilla beans on hand...would it bug you if I used those instead of vanilla extract? Would it store as easily that way??

I also learned a trick from a baker friend...he said use real mayonaise in place of oil in same quantities. Have you tried it? I do it all the time (mostly using boxed mixes though) and get rave reviews every time and when I reveal my secret ingredeient, bewilderment ensues. No one can taste it but it sure adds incredible moisture!

You're amazing!!!!

Gourmified said...

Sorry..forgot to mark the email me follow-up comments. I don't want to miss any of the fun with this recipe!

Chef Tess said...

Oh my gosh, my mom does the mayo thing with her cake mix too and I've always liked how it tastes and adds extra moisture. I'd be curious how it works with this mix. My mom tried it and said it turned out good so...hopefully that does it for you. Let me know how those cakes go this week though Lisa. Thanks for the great comments! Smoooches!!

Anonymous said...

I never buy all purpose flour. How do I adjust the recipe to use self-rising flour?

Chef Tess said...

With the self rising flour, omit the baking powder and use half the salt.

Candi said...

Hi Tess, I am new at this cake baking thing. I got inspired by watching all of the cake shows on TV right now so last week I made my first cake from scratch (I'm 26). Let's just say that my family was not lining up to eat more of my cake, it came out too dry. The recipe I followed called for 6 egg YOLKS and no oil. Box mixes always call for oil and all of the egg contents. What gives? Mayonnaise? I can't stand it but I'm willing to try it if that is what my cake is missing in moisture. I am very interested in trying this cake mix method.

My other question, if I were to double your recipe at one time like you suggested in another response, how do I separate it if I were to use some now, and then save some for later for another cake next week?


Chef Tess said...

4 1/2 cups mix equal to one boxed cake mix...so you can definitely double the recipe and just use that amount of mix, then follow the info on how much egg etc to add. Great question. When you measure it, just be sure to not pack it into the cup, and carefully scape the top of the cup with a knife so the measure is exact. Let me know if you have any more questions. (I demonstrate how to measure flour in the recipe for overnight started bread and I believe the recipe for cornbread as well.)

hobby baker Kelly said...

I know this is an old post, but I wanted to let you know how fabulously this worked for me in a recipe that called for cake mix as an ingredient - pumpkin dessert squares. My daughter has food allergies and why deal with that processed crud anyway? So thank you, thank you, thank you! I have passed it on and will be using it regularly. And now I'm going to try out the chocolate version... ☺

Chef Tess said...

Oh thank you! I love good feedback...it makes me want to do more. Big hugs!!

Sweta said...

Hello Chef Tess, a lot of people in my family dont eat eggs.. Could you please tell me how to adapt this recipe to make an eggless cake? I'm going to try out this cake mix recipe tomorrow :) Thank you

Chef Tess said...

Sweta, Sorry it took me so long I didn't see you post. Did you know you can use unflavored gelatine in place of eggs in baking recipes? One packet equals 3 eggs if dissolved in 3/4 cup luke warm water for 5 minutes stirring well. I showed how to do it here: http://cheftessbakeresse.blogspot.com/search/label/zucchini%20bread

Jeanine The Crafting Fiend said...

YAY! I was looking for a homemade cake recipe (I have food allergies) I am curious though - about the mixing in of shortening - can i still keep it out? or does this mean I have to use it all in like a week and store it in the fridge? I always thought it would just be dry ingredients for the basic mix.

Chef Tess said...

If you use butter you must keep it in the fridge. If shortening, it can be at room temperature. Excellent question! The ingredients in the cake mix from the store do include some fat. It helps give you a tender cake. You can use dehydrated shortening or butter as well and it makes it much faster to incorporate the shortening. Same amount as the regular recipe for the dehydrated.

Anonymous said...

I love your yellow cake mix but I have problems with this chocolate cake mix. I have used it thrice and each time, the cake is so "crumby". Last weekend it broke while coming out from the pan. Trying to level the top to enable me ice it was another problem. I am not really an expert baker but I have had marvellous success with the yellow cake mix. But with this chocolate cake mix, not much success. Any suggestions please? I thought the baking powder might be too much, no? Thanks Ifai

Chef Tess said...

Can you tell me what altitude you are living at and if you are being very exact in your measurements of the ingredients.

Anonymous said...

Sincerely I don't know what altitude I'm living at. I live in Port Harcourt in Nigeria which is neither mountainous nor below sea level. However I got the following information from google.com

"Port Harcourt, Nigeria is located at 4.77742 [latitude in decimal degrees], 7.0134 [longitude in decimal degrees] at an elevation/altitude of meters. The average elevation of Port Harcourt, Nigeria is 468 meters."

Is this helpful?

Concerning measurement, I used the standard measuring cups and spoons sold in baking equipment shops and I always level off the top after heaping. However, I made the following changes:

instead of butter, I used margarine.
I used 2 cups of sugar instead of 5cups as I don't like my cakes being too sweet. I used regular powdered milk which i believe have about 8% fat (this is what is readily available here. Skim milk could be found but I have to do a bit of searching. Is skim milk really okay?). I omitted the spices - 1 tsp ground cardamom and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. They should be available but I don't know their local names here so I couldn't ask for them.

I would really appreciate any help you could give me to make this cake sturdier as this "cake mix style" makes my baking very fast and easy unlike other recipes I'd been using previously. Best regards, Ifai.

Chef Tess said...

You are at a good altitude for this recipe. It is in the alteration of the sugar that you will have a problem. The milk fat content will actually help with a moist cake. On the chocolate cake mix (http://cheftessbakeresse.blogspot.com/2010/08/homemade-chocolate-cake-mix.html) You will need to increase the water to 1 1/3 cup per prepared recipe if you decrease the sugar by that much. This should help with the texture. Also, mix it by hand 200 times to be sure it has proper batter consistency. I hope this will help. You may also just use 4 eggs instead of 3, but it might taste too much like egg in that case. Instead of cardamom you can use a little ground anise. It won't be exactly the same but very nice hint of flavor. In place of cayanne I have used small red hot chile, ground. Just a little for heat. It makes the chocolate very deep in flavor this way. I hope this helps you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. I will make the alterations as you suggested and let you know the outcome.

Best regards.


Anonymous said...

I am going to try the yellow mix this weekend! I am thinking about making the cake on Saturday, but the party is not until Sunday. Would you keep the cake in the fridge overnight? Would you wait to ice it until the say of or doesn't it matter?

Chef Tess said...

You can frost the cake the day before no problem. If it's a whip cream or custard frosting it will need to be chilled. Otherwise, it's fine to leave out.

Anonymous said...

opps! i don't have enough corn starch....do i need to use it? Any alternatives?!

Anonymous said...

If you have cake flour you can omit the cornstarch. It can be made using all purpose flour and not mixing it as much...but it won't be as moist without using the cornstarch.

Unknown said...

Can I use milk powder in the cake mix

Unknown said...

Can I use egg powder in the cake mix

Unknown said...

Can I use powdered whole eggs in cake mix