Over the years, as cake mixes have gotten smaller and prices have gotten bigger, I've gotten tons of question on this topic. As someone who bakes primarily with doctored cake mixes, I thought it would be great to share my thoughts on Smaller Cake Mixes & How to Adjust Cake Mix Recipes.
Originally published October 2, 2012. Updated October 2019.
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.
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. But I do keep other brands on hand here and there and they've all changed!
Smaller Cake Mixes & How to Adjust Cake Mix Recipes
However, awhile back, 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 6 extra ounces of cake mix (3 oz. per 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?
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.
For me, I once measured the extra cake mix and 3 ounces of cake mix is approximately half a cup. Just for kicks one day, I substituted ½ cup of all-purpose flour instead of extra cake mix and that also worked beautifully!
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!
- Vanilla Cake Recipe
- Butter Cake Recipe
- Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Strawberry Cake Recipe
- Red Velvet Cake Recipe
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!!