Search box cake mixes on Pinterest and in five seconds you will see hundreds of posts about how to make your box cake taste more homemade. Some say to increase the eggs, others to add milk and still say to swap out the oil for butter. I had decided to go with a Funfetti cake (even with as much as I love baking from scratch Funfetti will always hold a place in my heart) for my son’s 5th birthday and had a little extra time so I decided to put these claims to the test and see if these Pinterest hacks really do make a box cake better. And so commenced the Battle of the Box Cakes.
I started with two boxes of Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix and checked what the official recipe called for: 1 box of cake mix, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of oil and 3 whole eggs. Easy peasy.
Now for the Pinterest hack version. I decided to go all in and use all the different substitutions at once: 1 box of cake mix, 1 cup of milk (instead of the water), 1/2 cup of melted butter (instead of the oil) and 4 whole eggs (instead of just 3). The only time difference was a couple seconds to melt the butter. Still pretty easy peasy.
Time to mix and bake. From the beginning it was easy to see that the Pinterest batter was thicker and creamier than the basic recipe, but other than that the mixing and baking were pretty much the same. I greased and floured all of my pans and baked all of my cakes at the same time. When the timer binged all of the cakes were done and the only noticeable difference was that the Pinterest cakes were a little browner.
The real differences started to show when it was time to pull the cakes out of the pans to cool. The Pinterest cakes popped right out fully intact and even while warm seemed really stable. The basic cakes…not so much. One cake ripped in half coming out and left a good chunk of the cake in the pan, the others came out okay but felt totally fragile. Score: 1 for Pinterest.
I was still able to decorate both cakes (with big rounds from the Pinterest cake and small rounds from the the basic cake) and only felt like I needed to be slightly more careful with the basic cake.
The final and most important test was of course the taste test and actually this one was a bit of a toss up. Both cakes were yummy but it depends on what you are looking for to pick a winner. The basic cake was a lighter, fluffier cake AND it had the nostalgic Funfetti taste that we grew up with (winning it my brother’s vote). The Pinterst cake had a richer and more homemade taste.
Overall, you can’t go wrong either way, but you should always keep testing new things to see what you like best.