Whether on the road or at home, it is wise to have a cake mix on the shelf to be prepared for any occasion. Creative cooks have been fiddling with cake mixes since they first made their appearance in grocery stores more than 50 years ago.
Cake mixes play a huge role in a style of cooking firmly planted in the American kitchen called “speed-scratch.” Purists may question why you’d start with a cake mix. First, with a cake mix you cut out a lot of the measuring, creaming and sifting involved in baking from scratch. In an RV, one has neither the time nor the inclination to do all those things. Most cake mix recipes require only a single bowl, which is just fine because most RV kitchens are not equipped with a whole lot of bowls.
Cake mixes have what is called “steel-belted toughness.” That means they can adapt to different ovens, different pan sizes, and over-beating and still turn out OK. And that sounds just like baking when “on the road.” The emulsifiers in a cake mix keep liquid and fat from separating, sealing in moisture. In addition, enhanced leavens ensure cakes will rise, which is so important wherever one bakes a cake.
LUCILLE’S CHEWY CAKE
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
8-oz. package of cream cheese
1 pound box of powdered sugar
Combine cake mix, 1 egg and melted butter. Pat into 13x9x2-inch engrossed baking pan. Blend cream cheese, 3 eggs and powdered sugar. Pour over unbaked cake layer. Bake in 350-degree oven 45 minutes. Cool; cut into squares to serve.
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 small package of chocolate instant pudding and pie mix
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 cup of chopped walnuts
2 cups of chocolate morsels
Combine cake mix, pudding, milk, sour cream and eggs in a large bowl. Beat on low speed just until blended. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in morsels and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured 12-inch Bundt pan. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 55-65 minutes or until it tests done. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
GLAZE: Melt 1 unsweetened chocolate baking bar and 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of sifted powdered sugar alternately with 2-3 tablespoons of water until it reaches desired consistency. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Pour glaze over the cake.
ANNE’S GOLDEN BUTTER CAKE WITH MANDARIN ORANGES AND PINEAPPLE
1 box Duncan Hines Golden Butter cake mix
8-oz. can of Mandarin oranges with juice
1/2 cup oil
16-oz. container of whipped topping
Small package of instant vanilla pudding and pie mix
16-oz. can of crushed pineapple, drained
Combine cake mix, Mandarin oranges, eggs and oil. Beat on medium speed 4 minutes. Pour into 3 greased layer cake pans. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 20-25 minutes.
Mix whipped topping, pudding mix and crushed pineapple together to fill and frost cake.
MARLENE’S VERY BERRY LEMON CAKE
1 box lemon cake mix
8-oz. carton of sour cream
15-oz. can of blueberries in heavy syrup, reserving 1 cup of syrup
or use 1 cup of fresh blueberries
Combine cake mix, sour cream and eggs in a bowl and blend 1 minute at low speed. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Drain blueberries, reserving 1 cup of syrup, and fold into mixture. Pour batter into greased and lightly floured Bundt pan. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 35-45 minutes. Cool cake 15 minutes before removing it from pan.
Serve with blueberry sauce. Make the sauce by combining 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and the cup of syrup that was reserved in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
One caution: Don’t use a mix with pudding inside if you’re using a recipe that calls for instant pudding as an ingredient—the pudding-inside cakes will turn out heavier and wetter.
Use regular salted butter to balance the high sugar content of cake mixes and give a more homemade taste. If you must use margarine for health reasons, make sure it is stick style and has more than 65 percent vegetable oil.
With creative use of camouflage extras such as fresh fruit and juices, pure vanilla or almond extracts, coffee, liqueurs, and, of course, chocolate, you can banish the from-the-box taste. Make it easy on yourself, and be prepared for those spur-of-the-moment happenings that might come up—use a cake mix!
HINT OF THE MONTH: For a higher, moister cake from a cake mix, use 4 eggs instead of 2, use milk instead of water, add 1/2 teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda, beat 4 minutes instead of 2 and bake at 275 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until done.
Marian Platt's regional narrative cookbook of Washington’s Sequim Valley, From My Kitchen Window, can be ordered by sending cash, check or money order for $25 (includes tax and handling/mailing costs) to Marian Platt, 434 Chicken Coop Rd., Sequim, WA 98382. Phone (360) 683-4691Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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