Smaller Cake Mixes & How to Adjust Cake Mix Recipes

I have a question for you.  Do you bake with cake mixes?  If so, have you noticed that companies are putting out smaller cake mixes?  At first it was Duncan Hines and now Pillsbury.  I rarely buy Betty Crocker… I bet they’re smaller too.

If you’ve been hanging around here on Rose Bakes for more than 5 minutes, you know that almost all of my cake recipes start with a cake mix.

This is not something that bothers me at all… I admire those who bake totally from scratch, but the recipes I use work out great for tiered and carved cakes, they’re mostly easy to put together and my customers are always thrilled with the results… so why not?

But lately, I’ve been having a bit of trouble.  You see, I’m a die-hard Pillsbury fan.  With the exception of my favorite chocolate cake, I always recommend Pillsbury mixes for my recipes.

However, a few months ago, they changed up their mixes.  At the very least, the amount of mix in the box is smaller (now 15.25 oz., down from 18.25 oz).    [I also suspect that they've changed up their formula somehow because the cakes don't always work out as wonderfully as they did in the past.]

However, despite the changes, I’m choosing to stick with Pillsbury for my baking, so I needed to find a solution for this change.

So thought I’d share what I decided to do to adjust my cake mix slightly to keep my batter (pretty much) the same quantity and texture as before.

To do that, I calculate how many cups of batter I need (as usual), then I divide by 5 (I have always used that estimate – 5 cups of batter per cake mix recipe) and that is the number of boxes I used to buy.  However, now I buy one extra box of Pillsbury cake mix for every 5 boxes I’d normally buy so I’ll have the extra 3 oz.

Then I use my simple kitchen scale to measure out an extra 3 ounces of cake mix and add it to each batch that I do… that way I’m getting the same quantity of batter. So far, this is working for me!

Here’s an example:

  • Lets say I’m doing a cake with 6″ and 8″ tiers and the flavor is vanilla cake.  According to my chart, I need 10 cups of batter for these pan sizes.
  • Since one of my cake mix recipes yields approximately 5 cups of batter.  I take 10 and divide by 5… that’s 2, right?  hehe.
  • That means I need 2 cakes mixes (according to my original recipe) to get 10 cups of batter.  But since the mixes are smaller and they yield a little less batter, I get a third box and measure out 3 extra ounces of  cake mix.
  • I simply make the recipe according to my directions… plus the 3 extra ounces of cake mix.   Most of the time they’ve been working out great.  They do seem to be a little softer… maybe a few more air pockets than they used to have, but they’re still working!
  • So that’s my solution on how to adjust cake mix recipes to the new smaller boxes.  Make sense?
Is this a pain?  Yes!  But it’s easier than other suggestions I’ve seen.   Since most of my cakes are chocolate and vanilla, I keep an open bag set aside just for measuring out the extra 3 oz. of mix.  I put a food clippy thing on it when I’m not baking and if I happen to have a white and a yellow or butter, I write on the bag with a marker so I don’t mix them up!

If you don’t like that solution, here’s another for ya!  The fantastic Anne Byrn (known for her wonderful The Cake Mix Doctor cookbooks) suggests adding flour to the cake mixes.  She gives different methods of doing this including by weight or measuring with a tablespoon or measuring cup.

Anyway, here are links to my most common and most used cake-mix recipes for tiered and carved cakes … I haven’t updated them all with this info, but I hope to soon!

I’m not alone in this… here and here are other articles that address this issue.

So, do you have any questions?    Have you had any problems with the smaller mixes?  Had you even noticed?  If so, I’d love to hear other “fixes”!!  Please leave any thoughts or questions in the comments!!

 

One or more links in this post are referral and/or affiliate links.  Read my disclosure policy here.

 

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Comments

  1. I believe it’s roughly about 1/3 cup more of additional mix for anyone that doesn’t have a scale.

  2. Of course I see this post, right as I’ve already made up 3 boxes of pillsbury white boxed cake mix along with your recipe for white cake. I had already thrown everything into the mix except the sour cream, and not having the extra 3 oz of mix, I’m trying to just cut down on the quantity of sour cream some. Hopefully they will turn out ok! They are in the oven as I’m typing.

    That stinks they are all changing up their recipes, and with no warning/notification.

  3. basketpam says:

    It sounds as if the cake mix companies need to get thousands and thousands of letters from unhappy bakers telling them we are VERY dissatisfied with the sneaky little trick they tried to play on the American consumer. They think we’re too dense to notice these things not understanding how precisely many wedding cake professionals work and careful they are with their products. It’s just one more way the poor working stiff has to pay for other people’s greed. The average consumer would be shocked at how many additional dollars that small amount left out from each box will put into the company’s pockets. When the gas crisis first appeared several years ago I dealt with companies in San Diego. This one particular company began adding not one but TWO additional small charges onto every bill they mailed. The first was a 15 cent billing fee. Mose INSANE thing I’ve ever seen in my life. They were charging ME or sending ME their bill. I was outraged and expressed that but I think they just laughed at the customers. This company, a waste management company has, still, even now, tens of thousands of customers. We figured out this small charge put close to a hundred thousand dollars in their pockets every year. THEN, they added a fuel surcharge every month based on the price of gasoline. That put even more in their pockets and the interesting thing, when gas prices went lower again, this fuel surcharge didn’t disappear. THIS is just one of dozens of way American corporations cheat, con and scam we poor consumers every day and the worst of it is we have little choice, we’re forced to pay or go without. I think most people wouldn’t believe the items that are much smaller today than they were in my childhood in the 60s and 70s. They just keep giving us less and less for our money. No wonder so many other countries don’t like us.

  4. Catherine says:

    I knew something was wrong. My cakes use to come out moist and wonderful. Now they aren’t as moist and ALWAYS break down the middle. I thought it was the oven, but its the same oven and nothing has changed. I think i might find great recipes from scratch and boycott all box mixed cakes.

  5. I noticed the same thing andI was unsure how to remedy this problem. It took me 20 minutes of searching Pinterest to find your blog again… glad I found you :) Going to go bake cake! Thanks for solutions!

  6. Too late did I realize the cake mixes were smaller. I just threw away a cake with about $6 worth of pecans!! To say I’m unhappy with the cake manufacturers is an understatement. An earlier writer mentioned everyone who bakes should write the companies to complain…..this is a great idea and I plan to do so PDQ. I can’t afford the money or time to bake cakes and then have them not turn out and end up in the garbage. Boo Hiss to all the cake mix companies for being so devious.

    • I don’t think it’s really fair to complain about them changing their product when we are using it as an ingredient. The new formula makes the exact same size cake as the old one when baked according to package directions. Since we are using it as an ingredient we have to adjust. Remember when sugar came in 5 pound bags? Now they come in 4 pound bags, but we still measure out the same amount we need according to the recipe. I am sure their intention was to make a better cake mix, not screw up everyone’s recipes.

      • I’ll have to respectively disagree. As a consumer, I think we all have rights to complain when products we’ve used for a long time are changed without being explained. And more than just the size was changed – the recipe changed. However, the price stayed the same and even increased in some stores. I think their intention was to make more money selling less product. They admit that the formula changed in this response from customer service, “We have reformulated our Duncan Hines classic cake mix line to offer the same moistness and delicious taste you know and expect from Duncan Hines. As a result of the reformulation we were able to reduce the weight of our classic cake mixes from 18.25 ounces to 16.5 ounces and still deliver the same size cake/cupcakes, allowing us to provide the same great value to you despite rapidly rising raw material costs that would otherwise require us to raise our prices. You should continue to follow the directions on the box to ensure consistent results.” How can you change the formula, reduce the amount of dry product and get the same exact cake quality? You can’t, in my opinion. But my post was not so much about complaining as it was about offering a solution to the changes for those of us who use cake mixes in other recipes. Thanks for your input.

  7. Katrina Leftwich says:

    I also am a diehard Pillsbury fan. I am having horrible issues with the white cake mix. I do everything the same as always and the bottom on the cake comes out very dense like its not cooked. It seems to be in spots thru out the bottom of the cake. the bottom of the cake is browning beautifully until you cut in to it. I am looking for suggestions of what it could be. I thought maybe the pan grease was the problem so i floured the pan again after I greased it. I followed the directions exactly like the box says. I’m so frustrated that I went and bought some Duncan Hines to try. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Awww, I don’t know Katrina. I haven’t had those kinds of problems before, I’m sorry! You might try googling the problem and see if you can find any info on cake forums. :-(

      • Katrina Leftwich says:

        Thanks for replying! I have found some things on Cake Central forums. It seems they may have changed their formula a bit when making the smaller size boxes. I’m not sure how long this has been a problem. I kept noticing it when i did a cake for a family member. Its just the bottom 1/4″ of the cake the rest of it is normal. I made a duncan hines mix and had no issues with it. I may have gotten a bad batch or something of the Pillsbury. I will be contacting them to see what they say. In the mean time I guess I am stuck using another brand :( This is so very frustrating.

  8. Hi Rose,
    I just need a little clarification about the extra 3oz. Do you add the extra 3oz to every cake mix box? So if I mix 2 cake box mixes I need to add 6oz?
    Thanks
    Delia

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