May 9, 2010

cake mix kick

One of my biggest kitchen-related dilemmas is trying to decide whether using a cake mix is a bad thing (preservatives! slothitude!) or a good thing (quick! easy! cheap!). Yes, I clearly lead a tortured existence.


Droopy and weepy, but oh-so-scrumptious.

After my success with the almond joy cake (made with boxed cake mix and pudding mix) and having perused the latest book from the Cake Mix Doctor, I was inspired to break out the mix once again. The cake that caught my eye in the aforementioned cookbook by Anne Byrn was a layered spice cake with a filling consisting of tart 'n tangy apple butter goo and coated with a rich caramel frosting. Just try and tell me that doesn't sound amazing.


I made a few alterations here and there. First and foremost, carrot cake mix was what I found in the cabinet, so carrot cake mix was what I used. Secondly, in continuing with my maple kick, I added a bit of maple flavoring to both the cake and the frosting.  Oh, the smells coming out of my kitchen--they were enough to buckle your knees.

In case you missed it, today is Mother's Day. I have a mother; you might recall some of my pet names for her--Mammy, Mamster, Mamburger, and the like. She's a pretty great lady, and since she's keen on caramel frosting, I applied it to the cake even though I had a hunch it'd give me trouble. Not surprisingly, it was a pain in the patootie, dripping down the sides of the cake before it set, but it worked out all right. Yeah, it looks a bit sad and saggy, but it's worth the hassle since it tastes like heaven in goopy form. Plus, it's for my Mama-lama-ding-dong.

Happy Mother's Day, ladies!

Maple Carrot Cake with Apple Butter Filling and Caramel Frosting (in other words, Bliss)
adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns by Anne Byrn

Cake:
1 box carrot cake mix
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon maple flavoring

Filling:
1 egg
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups apple butter
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Frosting:
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 cup milk
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon salt

Make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350F and thoroughly spray three 9-inch round cake pans.
Combine cake ingredients in a large bowl and beat until well-incorporated. Divide among the three prepared pans and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the toothpick test is passed. Let the layers cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then carefully remove them onto cooling racks until they become completely cooled.

Make the filling:
Beat the egg in a small bowl until it becomes lemon-colored. Add the buttermilk and blend well. In a separate bowl, heat the apple butter in the microwave or over medium heat until it becomes bubbly. Temper in the egg mixture and then heat the filling another 3 to 4 minutes until it thickens. Add in the butter and stir until it melts. Stir in the walnuts and let cool.

Assemble cake:
Transfer one layer to a plate or cake stand and spread half of the filling on top. Repeat with second layer and the rest of the filling. Top with the third layer and set cake aside.

Make frosting:
Heat the butter and brown sugar over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, stir, and bring the mixture back to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Let the mixture cool a bit and whisk in the powdered sugar until thickened and smooth, lightened in color, and beginning to lose its sheen. Stir in the flavoring at the last minute and stir to combine.  Pour the frosting onto the top of the cake quickly before it hardens, smoothing as you go. It's tricky to get the sides just right, but do what you can! Let the frosting harden before attempting to slice the beast.

78 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Well, I guess it depends on how you use it and how often you buy that stuff (like with everything unhealthy)... This cake looks delicious anyhow!

Cheers,

Rosa

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

You are an intersting lady Grace! I've never really seen this done but I can see logic to it. I suppose after all those ingredients it wouldn't really resemble the box mix?

Donna-FFW said...

Your adaptations sound delicious, looks amazing, and I use cake mixes lots for convenience, and cake mix doctors recipes have not failed me..Ill have to look for her new book!

Foodycat said...

I think I need to embrace the cake mix, because my baking from scratch is abysmal. This looks lovely - with spice, apple and caramel, how can you go wrong?

Barbara said...

Well, let me think about this, Grace. Maple, sour cream, apples, walnuts and then caramel frosting running all over? NOT a pain in the patootie. Sounds like heaven to me!

kat said...

What a yummy combination!

pigpigscorner said...

Wow, very interesting! Love you adaptation. Looks super moist!

Chanel11 said...

Thanks for the new mama words, I was beginning to run out of ideas...

Von said...

It looks so moist and gooey and delicious! I haven't made a cake using cake mix for ages! I don't even like carrot cake, but it looks so good I'm tempted to make this =]

oneordinaryday said...

My sister loves that cookbook and everything she's made from it is delish. This cake looks great!

♥peachkins♥ said...

hmmnnn.. as long as its delicious???heehee


blowing peachkisses
The Peach Kitchen
peach and things

amanda @ fake ginger said...

Holy yum! I am making this ASAP! You know, I think I have the Cake Mix Doctor somewhere... I need to find it and give it another chance if it's filled with cakes that look like that one! :)

The Dutch Baker's Daughter said...

Ha--I have the same conflicts you do. I must say, the cake mix always wins. Can't beat the versatility. Funny how we have to apologize in advance for our recipes these days. Ultimately, I repeat the old adage "everything in moderation". This cake looks wonderful--lucky mom!!

Bellini Valli said...

I decided to use one of the cake mixes I had in the cupboard last week. I think despite the preservatives they must have an expiration date. Is 4 years too long to have them sitting in the cupboard unused..wink. I think so...the cake did not rise, nor mix properly. I am certtainly not oposed to cake mixes but I try and avoid making cakes or sweet of any kind except on special occasions.I must have bought them on sale.

shaz said...

Slothitude! Ha ha, I so love your way with words Grace. And that filling sounds amazing, I'd never heard of apple butter until I started reading your blog, then I had about 12 apples to use up quickly so I made apple butter. Now that jar is sitting in my fridge and I didn't know what to do with it...until now.

Happy Mother's Day to your mammy.

Ingrid said...

SOunds like my kinda cake!

Hope you and your Mom have a delicious day.
~ingrid

Natalie @ Perrys' Plate said...

You know, I think I'm more of a spice cake/maple/carrot/cinnamon person than I am chocolate. I'd choose that cake any day over a devil's food!

I'm also a big of a chemical-phob... which is why I stopped using mixes a long time ago. The preservatives are bad, but I think the hydrogenated oils in the mixes are worse. They're awfully convenient in a pinch, though :)

haleysuzanne said...

I say, throw guilt at the window and cook what's delicious.

Now that we've covered that, this cake certainly looks delicious. Anything involving maple and caramel sounds purty good. Throw in some apple butter, and I'm at the verge of swooning. Hope your mom enjoys it!

Gloria said...

Grace this look absolutely georgeous and tempting, I love the texture! other awesome recipe from you,xxx gloria

Julie said...

Looks great...not a thing wrong with drippy frosting if you were to ask me :)

WizzyTheStick said...

Everything in moderation even preservative laden cake. I have no problem with using it on occasion:-) and do have such lovely texture

culinography said...

Love The Cake Doctor, even if I struggle with the same cake mix guilt you do. Is there a support group? And does it serve this cake at its meetings?

Looks amazing as usual. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms!

lisa said...

I think mixes are ok for some things. But you manage to create a cake mix project so unique, that I would hardly call it a cake mix! Maple and caramel is very decadent--this looks great, Grace!

Haddock said...

I think the ready made mix does not work at times.

Marjie said...

What fun is life if everything is good for you? This cake looks terrific!

. said...

you mean someone put out a cookbook about cake mix and how to use them? i wonder how it did in sales?
well, i'm all over that frosting

Lori said...

Here's a thought that may help your tortured existence. Goodness knows I wouldnt want anyone to have a tortured existence. How about want you are feeling less slothy making up your own mixes. That way when you are feeling rahter slothy and sweet toothy, you can pull out one of your premade mixes? Maybe?

Hungry Dog said...

That sounds pretty darn good! But your mama loved it.

5 Star Foodie said...

That looks amazing, I love the addition of maple flavor!

Melanie said...

That ooey-gooey-pain-in-the-patootie goodness just might convert me to boxed mixes - but even if not, I'm impressed with the deliciousness (and the smell that buckled your knees!).

Leslie said...

Happy Mothers day to you as well. And as far as cake mixes go..I always have some in the pantry. You never know when an emergency might happen!! lol
Doctored up they are great..plain..not so much!

Amanda said...

My hubby saw this picture on my computer and said, "You need to make that."

:)

Hope you had a wonderful day!
Amanda

tasteofbeirut said...

I am going to be honest: having not been brought up on cake mixes, i hate the stuff because I can sense the aftertaste; that being said, I have made cakes from mixes because in a pinch it is a great solution and they never fail you! I used to work at a cake shop and all the cakes there, wedding cakes and the rest were made from Duncan Hines mixes, doctored up to death.
Yours looks really yummy , don't get me wrong and I am sure your mom loved it!

Amy @ cookbookmaniac said...

I am so glad your cake turned out delicious. I have a chocolate cake the a cake mix and a pudding mix and sour cream. It tastes divine and no one guesses that it is from a cake mix!

Emily said...

Bliss, indeed. Those are my favorite flavors! This would be the perfect mom's day dessert. :)

Joanne said...

I've experienced a lot of internal conflict over cake mix as well. And this is what I've concluded.

if you are going to be doing all sorts of crazy decadent things to the cake. As you did here. Then go for the cake mix - it's one less thing you have to worry about. But if you're just making a plain vanilla cake. then go from scratch.

This is some kind of awesome. My knees are buckling just reading about it.

Faith said...

What a delicious Mother's Day cake! I bet your mom loved it! I absolutely use cake mixes when time is of the essence. ;)

vickys said...

Sometimes having to make cake from scratch takes the fun out of it and so if you've got a great cake mix recipe, i don't see why it's blasphemy! :) And besides, you totally worked hard to dress it up best you can and look how gorgeous it is! Lucky mum!

Lucie said...

Oh my gosh. This looks insane.
Once in a while my mom sends me a Funfetti mix just so I can let me friends taste the yumminess of an American cake mix--nothing wrong with enjoying it once in a while! Plus, you've totally turned it into your own dessert-bravo!

lisa said...

Apple butter and maple and caramel frosting sounds like one delicious combination! Your Mom must have been thrilled.

Lindsey @ pickyeatings said...

Boxed mixes definitely serve their purpose, so don't feel bad about using them...nor do I feel bad about making things from scratch. Each has their own purpose.

Pam said...

Why didn't anyone make this cake for me? It looks moist and delicious.

Heather said...

Oh my heavens! So yummy!! What could be wrong with carrot cake, apple butter filling, and caramel frosting? I know... absolutely nothing! Amazing!

The Blonde Duck said...

I want to lap up the gooey caramel frosting with a spoon.

Juliana said...

Grace, this cake look so moist...sounds and looks really tasty :-) Love the mix and match!

TKW said...

Happy Mother's Day, Grace! That is one moist-o-rama cake you have, there!

Chef Aimee said...

Honestly, maple flavoring is my achilles heel when it comes to flavors for desserts - this looks sooooo good! This is the first slice of cake they serve when you get to heaven!

Cara said...

Despite the fact that you are clearly suffering from WSS (wrong season syndrome) this sounds pretty darn incredible! Worthy enough for mothers day, for sure :)

Paula said...

I'll have some of that bliss, thank you! It sounds heavenly ... especially when you throw around words like maple and caramel. The first thing that caught my attention was the frosting ... it looks so good. Surprisingly, I'm not a frosting girl; however, like like Duckie said, I'd gladly lap up that frosting with a spoon. Of course if no one was around, I might skip the spoon! YUM!

Pam said...

"heaven in goopy form" - my favorite words when associated with a cake!

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

This cake looks yummy, moist and wonderful. All of your additions make it just perfect for Mother's Day!! xo

Angie said...

I have that dilemma too, quick and easy, or precise measuring. This cake looks so good!

Maria said...

Apple butter filling? YUM! Great cake creation!

Silver Strands said...

holy SCHMOLY Grace! I can't WAIT to make that!!!
xoxoxox
Denalee

Bridgett said...

While my husband would adore the filling, I would eat the frosting before it even hit the cake. Looks yummy even if it got messy on you.

Cocina Savant said...

looks delicious! i have a similar vexed relationship to cake mixes, you can use them to be creative like you did and you know you'll always have a moist cake :)

Deborah said...

I've had some amazing desserts made with a cake mix as the base. I bet this one would rank right up there at the top!

Holly said...

Oooooh! Yummilicious!!! lol I'm a total lover of cake mixes and I will openly admit it;)

The Teacher Cooks said...

Gosh Grace, to do all the stuff you did to that cake mix you could not start from stratch! It sounds wonderful!

Teanna said...

Hey, I wouldn't mind a mix if it was a carrot cake mix! MY FAVORITE CAKE EVER! And this looks so moist and delicious! Send one on over to me!!!

sweetlife said...

wow you really kicked up that cake mix, the pics are awesome...the filling is my fav

sweetlife

Robin Sue said...

Yup this is a good way to use up a cake mix. I am with you. Torn, to use or not use, but I do use now and again for ease.

Sook said...

I love playing around with cake mixes. I once made oreo cookies with them and they are just heavenly. Your creation is absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait to try it.

msmeanie said...

I've never even thought about playing around with cake mixes, but it does sound like a great idea. This cake sounds fabulous! Love the maple flavorings.

Lisa said...

I've been contemplating the cake mix dilemma lately myself. I'd really rather make a cake from scratch but do keep cake mixes in the cabinet and plan to use them as the whim strikes. They make a great base for experimentation and are a part of some favorite recipes.

Your creation looks fantastic! Who would ever think of turning down a slice of such a gorgeous cake mix variation?

Erica said...

This cake looks fantastic...I don't make a lot of cakes :) The frosting sounds amazing.

grace said...

Nothing wrong with cake mix! I bet it tastes delicious with the carrot cake mix..

Lynda said...

This is a gooey looking delight, that we will love. I'm amazed with what can be done with a cake mix. Great recipe Grace!

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

Love it! Awesome combination of flavors!

Kerstin said...

Bliss indeed :) I like using cake mix shortcuts sometimes too!

kellypea said...

If we're actually going to do true confessions, then I can honestly say I haven't used a cake mix in over 15 years. Maybe we're not the cakey type folk? Sacrilege, I know. But I do indulge once in a while. :) For the record, my mom's nick names are Momzer and Gramster. Quaint, ain't it?

cookies and cups said...

Sometimes the best cake is eaten with a spoon ;)

Livin Local said...

Oh, this is lovely! Cake, buttermilk, maple syrup, what could go wrong there? As for the cake mix question, if it doesn't start with cake mix, the likelihood of it actually being bakes as opposed to just considered goes way, way up. :-)

Carolyn Jung said...

I think we all started baking from mixes when we were young. Nowadays, I prefer baking from scratch, just because you don't have the added preservatives in your baked goods that way.

Danielle said...

oooh my goodness...this sounds so darned yummy! mixes, scratch...it's all good. I think...I mean, I know i have a few boxes in the pantry for when I bake my next cake.

Foodessa said...

Lately, I had passionately dedicated myself to making a very special cake for my Mommy. It turned out truly fantastic;o)
I do have to confess to the fact that once I was through with the whole made from scratch scenario...I highly contemplated using a cake mix next time around.
Sometimes, getting out of the kitchen sooner is more life enhancing;D
First time visit...I'll certainly be back for more.
Thanks for sharing your point of view. Flavourful wishes, Claudia

Jessica Lee Binder said...

One of the things I miss most (after becoming allergic to artificial food coloring) is the Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker strawberry cake mix. It's pink, but so good!

Jess said...

This looks so good, my mouth is watering!
Thanks far sharing!
Jess : )