Cake mixes are a godsend if you’re short on time or aren’t a very confident baker, as they simply require mixing with one or two ingredients to create a delicious cake for any occasion.
But did you know that one or two easy and cheap tweaks will go a long way to seriously improving the flavour and impressing your guests? And you can experiment with trying more than one of our suggested substitutions if you fancy it.
Find out the 10 easy twists that will help you turn a standard packet of cake mix into a personalised and extra special cake.
Best chocolate cake mixes – we tested 10 cake mixes from M&S, Aldi, Sainsburys, Betty Crocker, Cadbury and more, to see which is easiest to bake and top for taste.
1) Swap chicken eggs with duck eggs
For a sponge that’s richer and fluffier, swap traditional chicken eggs for duck eggs.
Both varieties of eggs are packed full of nutrition, but duck eggs are larger and contain a higher amount of folate, iron and vitamin B12, as well as more fat which helps the cakes to rise higher.
This extra fat and the higher amounts of protein also help the cake to rise and to maintain its structure.
2) Replace vegetable oil with hazelnut oil
Switching vegetable oil for hazelnut oil will give your cake a sweet, nutty flavour.
It’s great to add to chocolate cake mix as it gives the cake a Nutella kick.
You can also try adding other nut oils to your cake mix, for example almond oil or walnut oil, which is delicious with carrot cake mix.
Just make sure you avoid serving the cake to anyone with a nut allergy.
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3) Add sprinkles to the batter
Rainbow sprinkles, also known as hundreds and thousands, can be added to cake batter to create a Funfetti cake or an American Birthday cake.
Make sure to mix them in well to spread them throughout the batter.
Then once your cake is baked, you’ll see a delightful explosion of colours when you cut slices of sponge.
4) Use Lemon curd for your Victoria sponge
Using lemon curd instead of traditional raspberry or strawberry jam will give your Victoria sponge cake an unexpected sweet citrus twist.
You could also try sandwiching your chocolate cakes with marmalade, for a delicious chocolate orange flavour.
5) Cover your cake with decorations
To ice a cake well takes skill and practice.
If your buttercream icing doesn’t look as polished as you’d hoped, cover it up with decorations.
For example, adding a wall of chocolate fingers around the sides and a scattering of chocolate buttons across the top.
Or, you could put chocolate fingers around the edges and a few pig-shaped sweets in the messy buttercream at the top to create a fun pig-pen cake.
6) Add an extra egg
If the recipe on the cake mix box says two eggs are needed, use three. If it asks for three, use four.
The extra egg will ensure the cake is more moist and it will taste richer.
7) Replace water with dairy
Most cake boxes cake recipes say to add water. However, choosing to use milk instead will guarantee a much more delicious cake.
The added fat from milk (or a high-fat milk alternative) will make the cake taste more homemade.
8) Add a flavoured extract
Use your favourite extract to flavour your cake the way you want it.
Experiment to see how much to add to get the best taste, but it’s best to start slowly with a few drops to build up the flavour.
As well as vanilla, other extracts you can experiment with include caramel, almond, lemon, orange and mint.
9) Use coffee instead of water
If you’re making a cake for adults rather than children, deepen the flavour of your chocolate cake mix by using a strong brewed coffee instead of water.
Or you can try swapping the water for Guinness, for a richer tasting cake.
Check out the best chocolate cake mixes to see which impressed our taste test panel the most.
10) Mix something extra in
Another way to make your cake extra special and personalise the flavour is by adding in an extra ingredient or two.
This could be anything from chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, dried fruits, chopped nuts or small pieces of your favourite chocolate bar.
You can even try grated zest from citrus fruit, to add a fresh zing to your sponge.