Does anyone else watch Two Broke Girls on CBS on Monday? I love that show! I just recently got hooked on it. It is about 2 broke girls (amazing, right) whose dream is to open a cupcake bakery one day. I can relate!
In a recent episode the one (formerly rich) broke girl gets hooked on couponing and they get really excited when they can score Duncan Hines cakes mixes to make their cupcakes. Although, one of the girls is surprised the other uses a cake mix for her cupcakes. Later in the episode, we learn she has a secret for her Duncan Hines cake mix….she adds 1 Tablespoon of Pillsbury cake mix to each batch. I found this very amusing, as I also tend to use cake mixes to make my cupcakes or cakes. However, just like them, I am a working girl, somewhat broke and my time is limited. I like to make due with what I have and add a few extra special ingredients to hopefully make the end product taste even better and a little bit homemade. And no, it isn’t one mix of another brand of cake mix. I’ll explain more below.
I decided to make a cake to take to my coworkers in Beulah. The Beulah color is blue, so a blue cake it was. I had an idea for decorating the cake that I saw online. <—That cake was pink and I thought it would be so pretty for a shower for a baby girl. Simple, yet elegant.
Vanilla Cake – from a box, with a homemade touch
- 1 box white cake mix – Pillsbury, Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, whatever you prefer
- 1 box of instant vanilla pudding
- 1 cup of sour cream (low-fat here, I wouldn’t use no-fat)
- 1/2 c. vegetable or canola oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 3/4 c. water
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- Pam or other cooking spray for your cake pans
Preheat your oven to 350*. Mix together all ingredients for 2 1/2 minutes. This is the perfect amount of time, no more, no less. Use your microwave as a timer if needed. The mixture will be very thick.
See? Thick like this. Grease your two cake pans and split batter evenly among the pans. Bake for 20* or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do. Not. Over. Bake. We want this cake to be super moist. Super moist = super good.
I wanted my cakes to be blue and white so I divided the batter in half and added blue coloring to one batch of the mixture. I put each color randomly in the cake pans and smoothed out to bake them. The online cake I saw had gradual levels of color, but I did not have time to make that many layers and I only have 2 cake pans, so it would take up a good part of my day.
Here they are out of the oven. I knew the inside would be different though since I had to smooth out the tops.
Frost your first layer, add the top layer and frost that. Then frost the sides.
I purchases this nice rotating cake stand which makes it easy to decorate cakes. I got it at Michael’s for minimal cost. Every week they have at least a 40% off coupon in the Sunday paper good for that week. You can slowly and inexpensively build up your baking items using that coupon alone. I applied the crumb coat (the coat you apply to the cake before decorating it) and didn’t worry too much about if it was perfect or not. I knew how I wanted to decorate this cake and I basically just needed a white, basic frosting layer. I also got the 9” cardboard cake bottoms to use. These are great (so sturdy) for transport.
I started my bottom layer with a bottom bright blue layer of frosting. I just used a #20 tip (under $1.50 each at a cake store) and piped on a circular shape all along the bottom of the cake.
Once I finished that layer, I simply added some more white frosting to the original darker blue so each layer was lighter in color.
And, since my cake was pretty short, it only took three layers of color to get to the top.
I wanted to continue the lighter color until I got to the center of the cake.
These two most inside layers are the same hue of blue. It is kind of hard to tell in the photo.
And the final inside two layers are also the same hue of blue.
You can tall her a bit more the change is gradual, but noticeable.
JOY! This is also a good winter cake. I think blue is a great winter color.
You can see the white poking through and I was ok with is. I could have been more careful and kept the circles tighter. Maybe next time. I’d love to do this in a yellow for spring, or orange for fall.
And here is the inside of the cake! It kind of looks like tie-dye?
The cake remained super moist too!
If I were to do this again I would make the bottom layer blue and the top white. I am just not a fine of the marble or tie-dye look in this cake. Clear layers would better match the outside. But I was happy with this cake and the easy, but stylish decorating. Frosting recipe is below.
Classic White Buttercream Frosting
This is an excellent frosting recipe. It is sturdy enough to hold up to making shapes, but it also tastes good. There is no butter in this, but still yummy. I got this recipe from my cake decorating teacher in Moorhead, Cynthia. I don’t have her last name, but she is an amazing cake decorator and artist. This recipe makes enough to frost a double layer cake. If you are frosting cupcakes, you could likely halve this.
- 1 1/2 cups Crisco (do not use a store brand substitute, Crisco only)
- 1 tsp. vanilla (dark or clear)
- 2 tsp. lemon juice (a must to cut through all the sugar – fresh or bottled is fine)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 Tbsp. clear corn syrup
- Water – 4 Tbsp. – 1 cup (see note below)
- 2 tsp. meringue powder (available at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby – this is dehydrated egg white that add volume, stabilizes and cuts down on the sweetness – I much prefer this over using raw eggs)
- 2 lbs. (one bag) powdered sugar, approximately 7 1/2 cups
Mix all ingredients except the water and powdered sugar using a hand mixer. A Kitchen Aid mixer with a wire whisk is best, but any hand mixer will work. You will need anywhere from 4 Tbsp. of water up to one cup depending on many factors, especially weather and humidity. Start with 4 Tbsp. of water and about 1 lb. of powdered sugar. Mix thoroughly. Add another 1/2 lb. of powdered sugar and more water if needed. Scrape down the sides of your bowl. Add the last part of your powdered sugar and more water if needed. On this date, I needed about 1/2 cup of water. The more I have decorated cakes, the better I have become at knowing how much water to add. Bake away and call yourself a superstar!
BAKING TIP: Check out your cake pans – many less expensive ones actually have slanted sides. Quality pans will be straight up and down, making for easier decorating. Wilton brand cake products seem to have some of the best (yet affordable) products out there – again, available at Michaels or Hobby Lobby. I think I have even begun to see them at Wal-Mart and Fleet Farm!