I bake one mean chocolate cake. And for years, whenever I made it, I would shrink when people asked for the recipe. You see, I always made it from a mix...and store bought frosting. Duncan Hines. Betty Crocker. I am sure that since the advent of the cake mix there are many people who have done the same thing. Manufacturers have realized this as well, which is why they have added little gizmos like trimmings to decorate the top of the cake and other little things to swirl into the batter.
When I found THE CAKE MIX DOCTOR there was finally a guide to get me out of the rut of "add eggs, water, and oil," often in measurements that I have memorized much like my grandmother remembered the ingredients in her tomato gravy. Here are 150 recipes on how to doctor those mixes to create new creations packed with even more taste.
Byrn takes basic mixes and turns them into layer cakes, bundt cakes, bars, cookies, chewies, and more. And every recipe is easy enough to pull together in just a few minutes more than the basic mix. Readers quickly will see why they should buy buttermilk, sour cream, and an assortment of instant pudding flavors when they pluck a cake mix from the supermarket shelf.
The cakes are grouped in chapters that include Chocolate Cakes, Cakes with Fruit, Strike It Rich Cakes, Cake-Mix Classics, Special Occasion Cakes (including an adorable gingerbread house), and Incredible Bars and Comforting Cookies. And for those who are visually challenged bakers --- there are wonderful color photographs on the opening pages that can serve as a true inspiration.
The magic does not stop with the cakes. There are also some incredibly tasty frosting recipes. My true favorite: peppermint buttercream!
Since this book came out I have been triple-layering, buttercreaming and otherwise punching up my mix cakes, thus waking up some new taste buds. And my audience of tasters --- my family and the staff of The Book Report Network, for whom I traditionally bake cakes for birthdays and other special occasions, have given these thumbs up. If you bake, or wish you could, it's well worth checking this one out.
Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald on January 21, 2011