While scratch baking and recipe development may be my passion I’d like to encourage and excite the baker in all of us! That’s my inspiration behind this simple pumpkin cake recipe which features a boxed cake mix. Boxed cake mixes contain all of the necessary functional ingredients to allow for cake and baking success. They contain all of the essential leavening ingredients (i.e. baking soda & baking powder) and emulsifiers that will provide a desirable texture and keep your cake moist long after a scratch cake will begin to dry out. Needless to say, a boxed cake mix is the perfect starting point for some simple flavor variations!
Today we are exploring a simple pumpkin cake recipe using a yellow cake mix. Start with any brand yellow or white cake mix. We’re going to add pumpkin puree, a bit of brown sugar, and some warm Fall spices to transform this boxed cake into something special. Pumpkin puree adds a substantial amount of moisture under normal circumstances, but as mentioned the commercial grade emulsifiers will be able to support this addition. Brown sugar is one of my favorite ingredients. It provides a greater depth of flavor, attributable to its molasses content. This will enhance our cake’s flavor, and pair well with the spices we are going to add.
The spice section is where you get to be creative (or maybe even resourceful!?). Here we’ll add our Fall favorites, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. I actually prefer them in that order, and will add more cinnamon than ginger, etc., however this is highly customizable. Don’t have any clove? Skip it, add a touch more nutmeg. Or, skip the individual measuring and reach for the all spice, depending on what’s in your kitchen cupboard. Check out our easy pumpkin cake recipe, or what some would call our “boxed cake hack” below!
Yellow or white boxed cake mix
½ cup vegetable oil
1-15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp Homemade Pumpkin Spice (See recipe below, or create your own!)
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray either 2-8”, 2-9”, a 13x9 or a Bundt pan with cooking spray.
Mix cake mix, spices, and brown sugar on low speed until combined. Add eggs, oil, and pumpkin puree and mix on medium speed until no lumps are visible and ingredients are incorporated. If mixing by hand, use a whisk for 2-3 minutes to be sure wet ingredients fully hydrate the dry mix.
Pour into prepared pans and bake as directed for a 13x9” pan, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean, with only a few adhering crumbs. The cake will need to cool almost completely in the pan. Invert onto a plate or platter and enjoy with a dusting of powdered sugar or a cream cheese icing. Keep cake refrigerated, and be sure to bring to room temperature before enjoying. I hope this boxed cake hack will bring out the baker in all of you!
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice/Pumpkin Spice
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp clove
*optional1 tsp allspice