As much as I love baking and making things from scratch, there isn’t quite anything like a good box cake mix. I am sure some disagree with me. Maybe some think box cake mix isn’t great because it has ingredients in it that you can’t always pronounce. Isn’t that half the fun, indulging in something that is bad but oh so good?! There are great box cake mixes out there, organic ones I’m sure. But for this cake I went with the classic Pillsbury Chocolate Cake and it was DELICIOUS! I made this chocolate peanut butter cake for Dan’s birthday last month. Everyone loved it and a ton of you messaged me asking for the recipe. I used box cake mix and made the frosting from scratch. Plus did a little trick that makes any box cake look a little more fancy!
Box cake mix brings back a ton of childhood memories! My grandma loved baking things from scratch and wouldn’t dream of using box cake mix, but my mom did! We’d always get that classic vanilla cake with rainbow sprinkles through out for our birthdays. My aunt still makes yellow box cake topped with thick, creamy chocolate frosting and she bakes it in a lasagna dish. I remember when my mom baked our birthday cakes she would just frost it and serve us slices right out of the pan she baked it in.
While I think using box cake mix is awesome, doing small things to make it your own is fun! Start by choosing a box cake mix flavor you love and then find a few ways to make it your own.
-Make homemade frosting.
-Fill the cake with fresh fruits
-Brush a liqueur on to the cake before you frost it.
-Get creative with decorations!
Since Dan loves any and all things chocolate and peanut butter, I made homemade peanut butter buttercream frosting to layer in between the chocolate cake. Plus, I added peanut butter candies! I baked the cakes in a 9 inch round pan and then sliced them in half so I’d have four thin cakes to stack on top of each other. Here, I’ll show you!
I used two box cake mixes and baked them each in 9 inch round cake pans. TIP - Be sure to spray your cake pans with non-stick spray. My secret for getting your cake to come out of the pan easily is a layer of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan. Trace the your round pan on a piece of parchment paper and then cut it out. Place it at the bottom of your pan before you pour the cake batter on top. The parchment paper keeps the cake from sticking. Something not even the best non-stick spray can do!
Another tip, be sure to let your cakes fully cool before flipping them out of the baking pans!
To get that layered cake effect, use a serrated knife to slice each cake in half. I like to stick a wooden skewer all the way through the center of the cake as a guide. This way you run your knife along the wooden skewer and end up with two equal cake rounds. (See the image below. The wooden skewer goes through the center of the side of cake. Then I run the knife along the wooden skewer until I’ve sliced the cake in half.)
Now, I have four cake rounds. While they hang out I start mixing my buttercream frosting. This frosting is so simple and is a household favorite! In a stand mixer simply whisk together; 1 stick of softened unsalted butter, 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/4 cup of whole milk and 4 cups of powdered sugar. Start by whisking together everything except the powdered sugar. Once everything is whisked together and smooth, slowly add in your powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time.
Once your frosting is ready, transfer it into a piping bag. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a gallon sized zip top bag and then use scissors to snip the top open. You can also skip the piping bag and just use a spatula too. The piping bag just offers a bit more control and finesse when frosting your cake.
Start buy placing a cake layer onto a cake stand or whatever serving platter you want. Pipe a circle of frosting around the cake layer and then squeeze frosting into the center. Use a spatula to spread out the frosting. I added peanut butter candies too in between the cake layers. Then add on another cake layer. Continue this until all the cake layers are stacked on top of each other with frosting in between. See photos below.
Add whatever sort of decorations on top and you’ve got yourself the best box cake ever! Who is ready to jazz up their some box cake mix for their next birthday celebration?
Photos by Lily Ro Photography