Basic Semi-Homemade Cake Recipe

Hello, and welcome! I’m so thrilled to be sharing my recipes and techniques with you and I’m ready to dive right in and start talking about cake! So, here goes!


I mean, seriously, who doesn’t want to talk about cake? It’s fluffy, delicious and makes any day feel like a party day. Before we actually bake I must confess –

I don’t bake from scratch.

A brief moment of silence for all of the people I’ve just dissappointed. ok, we good?

Now, like I said, I don’t bake from scratch. At least, not for cakes. I have a few tried-and-true cake recipes that I’ve doctored just right and that suit my needs just fine. So really, I’m contributing to a piece of American history! I don’t mind being lumped together as part of the “lost generation who can’t bake” because I can bake, I just like using a shortcut when it’s available!

So, enough of that. Let’s get baking!

Start off with your favorite brand of cake mix. I prefer Betty Crocker Super Moist when I am making any cake less than 3 layers high. It’s fluffy, has a great, expected mouthfeel, and holds up well with frosting. It will decently hold up fondant, but not for very tall or carved cakes. That’s another recipe for another day…

So, on the back of your box (if using the same brand) is the recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cups water,
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil,
  • and 3 eggs whites.

word of advice: ignore these directions! 🙂

Step back, ignore that, and do  this instead:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk,
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil,
  • 3 eggs, 1 tbsp flour,
  • and 1 tsp your favorite flavoring (I love almond!).


This produces a spongy, stackable cake that removes easily from the pan, yet still has the moistness you crave. This is enough to fill 2 8-inch rounds (my go-to size).

Bake at 325 for 45 minutes – 1 hour. I know that’s a wide range, but it will depend on how thick the batter is at your altitude. I live at just about sea level and it varies day to day based on the humidity. Start checking at 45 minutes. When you pull the tray out of the oven, it shouldn’t “jiggle”, and the top should have a firm crust that springs back when pressed on.

Allow your cakes to cool on in the pan on a baking rack (or, in my case, on the cooktop), just ensure airflow all the way around the pan so it cools evenly and you don’t get a mushy bottom. I only remove cakes from pans when fully cooled. This decreases the chances of cracking, crumbling, or any other cake mishaps. This will drive you crazy if you are trying to bake two cakes with one pan, or six cakes with five pans, or wherever the shortage may be. Trust me, it’s worth the time to wait for the cakes and pans to cool. Go watch a movie. Or, if feasible, buy another pan. You can never have too many, I think.

And that is it folks, you’ve just baked a beautiful, semi-homemade cake! Fill it with your favorite frosting (I like this one!), throw on some sprinkles, and you’ve amped your dinner party cred x 1,000.

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