Semi-Homemade Devil’s Food Cake

Box cake gets a bad rap, and it’s true that if you follow the instructions on the back you’re going to get a cake that is probably OK at best. But by switching out a few of the added ingredients, you can change the whole composition of the cake, creating something that is ultra moist, rich and bakery-worthy. In fact, the bakery I used to work at used to always keep a few boxes on hand if they were ever in a hurry.

It’s my partner’s birthday, but while we are in lockdown, I only need to make a few cakes (for my own sake). This is why I have opted to use my bundtlette cake pan over a cupcake tray or full cake rounds, but I will include the cook times for all different pans in the directions at the bottom since this recipe works great in any application.

To start you’ll need a box cake mix of your choice, but make sure that it is Devil’s Food flavour. You’ll also need melted butter, just shy of a cup of milk, 4 eggs, and the real winner in this recipe, a small box of chocolate pudding mix. Now if you are in the UK, this is isn’t widely available, but I have found that using a package of chocolate powder whip (Angel Delight for example) works just as well since its primary purpose is to add moisture and some internal structure. I also like to add chocolate chips into the mix, but this is optional.

First pre-heat your oven to 180C (350F). Then to a large bowl you’ll want to add almost all of the box mix, but keep about an inch left in the bottom of the bag. I find it easiest to pinch just above this part to keep it from pouring with the rest of the bag. Keep the left over to the side. Next add the chocolate pudding (or whip) and give it a gentle stir with your whisk to evenly distribute the chocolate powder throughout the cake mix.

Because pudding will start to set the second you add moisture to it, it is important to add all of your wet ingredients at the same time right before you mix. So you can either mix it in a separate bowl or just make sure that all of the ingredients are prepped (butter melted, eggs beaten, milk measured) to go in all at once.

Once these have been added start whisking immediately, starting with small circles in the middle and slowly incorporating more of the dry ingredients with each pass of your whisk. The final consistency should be thick but pourable like so, and you can add in extras in at this stage, like chocolate chips, nuts or fruit.

*Note if you’re using the powdered whip, I’ve found it helpful to use an electric mixer/whisk at this stage to give it some extra help setting up in the cake. Just about a minute will do so you don’t overwhip the batter.

Take out your baking pan of choice – here I have my bundlette pan – and spray it with a non-stick cooking spray or coat with shortening (yes even if it is supposed to be a non-stick pan). Take your leftover box cake mix in the bag and sprinkle a little in the bottom of the pan. The goal here is to have the mix coat the oil, so while holding the pan over the sink or bin, gently turn it sideways where the opening is facing you and tap the side of the pan a couple of times to help the mix settle on the bottom side. Turn it a few degrees and repeat this step until all of the sides and the bottom of the pan are coated. Shake out any remaining mix. This process will help prevent any of the cake from sticking. If making cupcakes or a round cake, you can instead add a liner to the pan in the form of paper casings or cut parchment paper.

Fill your batter about two-thirds of the way full as the cake will expand as it cooks. I use a large ice cream scoop to do this, but a big spoon, or even a pastry bag also works. Gently hit the pan against your counter a few times to shake out any large air pockets and then place in the middle of the oven to cook.

A full 9″ round will take the longest at 25-30 minutes (spread over two pans). These bundlettes will take around 20-23 minutes. And cupcakes will need just 17-19 minutes. These timings mean you should check the cake at the earliest time, and if it is not done, keep an eye on it for the next few minutes; but do not leave the cake in any longer than the longest time, as the cake will begin to overcook. If your cakes are not ready even then, there may be an issue with your individual oven, and you might need to raise the temperature of your oven next time you cook.

When you remove the pan from the oven, allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before you try to remove it from the pan. If you try to remove it too fast, the chances are higher that it will split or fall apart. Run a knife along the edges of the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack (place the rack over the pan and then flip them both together, the cake should slide right out.)

Let it cool completely before trying to add frosting or glaze (about an hour). You can also place the cake in the fridge to speed up this process. To frost, you can use store bought or try one of my frosting recipes that I’ll be adding here soon. Or, for a slightly less sugary take, you can top with a tangy cream cheese glaze, using a spoon to drizzle it over the cakes.

I like the glaze with the bundtlettes because it gets into all those grooves and crevices easily.

This cake will taste better the longer it sits out, so try to make it ahead as much as possible, even the day before if you can.

If you have batter left over (like I did) you can portion it out into cupcake liners and freeze them, keeping them in a freezer bag for several months. To cook just add an extra five minutes to the cook time and pop them into the oven from frozen – perfect for when you’re craving just one cupcake (or two).

Semi-Homemade Devil's Food Cake

  • Servings: Varies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ultra moist cake that is easy to pull together quickly thanks to a box cake mix.

Ingredients

    Cake
  • 1 box Devil’s Food Cake box mix
  • 1 small package instant chocolate pudding OR chocolate powdered whip
  • 75 g (3/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 7/8 cup milk (210ml)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Glaze
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese at room temp
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Milk for consistency

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F). Add most of the cake mix to a mixing bowl, reserving about 1 inch in the bag. Add instant pudding (powdered whip) and combine.
  2. Measure out wet ingredients and add to dry mix all at once. Stir with a whisk in a tight spiral pattern from middle to outside to ensure wet and dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Scrape sides and bottoms of bowl to avoid powdery clumps.
  3. Add any extra ingredients at this time.
  4. Oil and flour your baking dish of choice to prevent sticking, then pour in your batter two-thirds of the way up.
  5. Bake in the center of your oven according to these guidelines:
  6. – Standard Bundt Pan: 30-40 minutes – Two 9″ rounds: 25-30 minutes – Bundtlettes or Jumbo Cupcakes: 20-23 minutes – Cupcakes: 17-19 minutes – Fairy Cakes: 11-13 minutes
  7. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack and allowing to cool completely.
  8. For the glaze: carefully mix cream cheese and powdered sugar together using the back of a spoon or electric mixer until fully combined. Add milk 1 Tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  9. When cake is cool spoon glaze over the top two or three times, allowing it to settle each time before adding more.

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