Who doesn’t love cupcakes? Do you lack the time to prepare your own batter from scratch? Cake mix could help you achieve your goal without any hassle.
Can you use cake mix for cupcakes? Absolutely! Although there are many possible ways to make cupcakes, the ingredients you need for them and what you find in cake mix are essentially the same. Save time by making individual-sized treats.
What is Cake Mix and How Do You Use It for Cupcakes?
The first cake mix was put on the market for convenient at-home baking in the 1930s. Most brands use a similar formula which consists of flour, corn starch, a leavening agent, and one or several types of sweeteners (sugar, corn syrup, Splenda, etc.). There are eggless variations and ones that do require eggs. There can be additional ingredients depending on which cake mix you purchase.
During the first half of the 20th century, people started buying bread instead of baking it at home, which led to a flour surplus. The solution came in the form of a new invention which quickly became a household staple due to an increasingly busy lifestyle. Surprisingly, it started out as a canned product. Its packaging, flavors, and ingredients have been perfected over the decades.
The main ingredients in cake and cupcake mix are the same. You could save time because a full-size cake’s larger surface area would take longer to bake. That is why the optimal baking time is 15-20 minutes for cupcakes and 30-40 minutes for full-size cakes. The recommended temperature is 350°F for both. Insert a toothpick in the middle of one of your cupcakes to check when they are done.
Feel free to add any vegetable oil but you can also use olive oil as a healthy alternative. Fill the cases ⅔ full with about 3 tablespoons of batter. If the cupcakes overflow, they either bake unevenly or take longer. A cookie scoop can come in handy to make measuring easier. Greaseproof liners can help with easy peeling but if you own silicone molds, you do not necessarily have to use liners or any cooking spray.
Sweet treats are fun to decorate but only begin about an hour after they come out of the oven. Even just a little heat could melt the frosting. Put toppings on shortly before serving so that they would remain fresh. You can keep your cupcakes in the freezer for up to 3 months.
An Overview of Cake Mix Flavors
Experimenting with cake mix flavors is a great way to find your favorite. Let’s examine which flavors are offered by major brands.
If you prefer fruits, orange, pineapple, banana, strawberry, or lemon cupcakes could be great choices. Pairing these with frosting will give you an almost infinite amount of flavor combinations.
Red velvet is a crimson-colored delight with cocoa powder, vinegar, and buttermilk. Beetroot or food coloring is used for achieving its trademark color. Cream cheese frosting goes well with its rich flavor.
When it comes to color, nothing can beat rainbow cupcakes. These are all-time favorites among children.
Marble with its vanilla and chocolate swirls is also a popular classic. For a similar duo, you could pair yellow or white cake mix with chocolate frosting.
If you love chocolate cake, you will find a large selection. Devil’s food cake has one of the richest chocolate flavors. The name stems from an old reference to chocolatey, rich, or spicy food. There are so many types of chocolate to try including Swiss, fudge, triple chocolate, or German chocolate. They differ in terms of sweetness and richness depending on how much cocoa and what type of cocoa they contain.
If you love cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg merged together and have a box of spice cake mix in your pantry, you could make tasty gingerbread cupcakes with it. Another way to use up a spice cake mix is to make delicious miniature carrot cakes.
If you are a fan of complex flavors, you could opt for coconut pecan or salted caramel. Would you rather have a light sponge cake? In this case, angel food cake mix could be your best bet.
How Can You Make Cupcakes Taste More Homemade?
Fortunately, there are many ways to boost flavor in your baking. Choose one of the long-time brands voted best for their boxed cake mix. These include but are not limited to Duncan Hines, Krusteaz, Pillsbury, and General Mills (Betty Crocker).
You can add milk instead of water and if you replace oil with butter and double its amount, your dessert will turn out airy and flavorful. An extra egg could improve the overall consistency.
Your batter should be smooth. If it turns out to be too runny for your liking, you can thicken it with a little flour. The best flour to use is cake flour or all-purpose.
When using a cake mix, it is unlikely that you would need to sweeten it but you can add a small amount of vanilla extract for extra flavor. If you have a favorite spice such as nutmeg or cinnamon, you could further customize the flavor.
A pinch of salt balances out the taste of your desserts. Adding a little sour cream to the batter makes your treats rich and creamy. It is not recommended for cakes with a delicate texture such as angel food but sour cream goes well with dense chocolate or pound cakes.
Are There Healthy Cake Mix Options?
It is worth checking the ingredients on the box if you have to adhere to dietary restrictions or want to avoid preservatives.
Sugar-free versions are made with sweeteners such as Splenda while gluten-free ones contain organic almond or coconut flour.
Dairy-free cake mix is also available and you can make vegan cupcakes with it. Instead of butter, use vegetable oil and omit the eggs. Dairy-free milk such as coconut or almond milk tends to be sweeter than the regular type. Therefore, adjust its amount and if you need to make your batter less dense, loosen it with a little water.
Organic cake mix is made without bleached flour, artificial colors and flavors. It does not contain any hydrogenated oil and other trans fats. Ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil would go well with the mix in case you do not want to add butter.
What Other Alternatives Can You Use for Cupcakes?
There are quite a few products you could consider as substitutes. If you are unsure about how your cupcakes would turn out, prepare a small batch first.
Gingerbread cake and cookie mix could replace regular cake mix for your delicious dessert.
Muffin mix is an acceptable substitute but cupcakes are sweeter and fluffier. Muffins have more of a bread-like texture and can be both sweet and salty. You can attempt to soften the batter by whisking it longer and adding some extra butter.
You can make cupcakes with brownie mix if you add a little baking powder to the dry ingredients. Swap oil with applesauce for a lighter consistency. An extra egg can make it smoother and runnier than your regular brownie batter.
If you have cornbread mix at home, you can make muffins but not cupcakes because a softer, more porous texture would require finely milled flour. That is why cake flour is considered the most suitable one for this sweet treat.
Think of cupcakes as miniature cakes. They come in many flavors but they have one thing in common: you can successfully use cake mix to make them because of the ingredients they have in common. Follow the directions on the box but do not forget to adjust the baking time for their smaller size.