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Everyday Cheapskate: How to Upsize a Cake Mix That's Too Small for the Recipe

Mary Hunt on

In my kitchen, I have a small collection of cookbooks which I consider prized possessions. One of them, the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook, was a wedding gift and, trust me, it's seen more than its share of splatters and dog-eared and ripped pages. And I wouldn't part with it for anything.

Another features 100 things to do with an ordinary cake mix. It is fabulous -- or I should say it used to be.

Here's the problem: About five years ago, cake mix manufacturers got the bright idea to shrink the contents of a standard cake mix rather than increase the price. Sneaky, right? And what a terrible decision that was. What used to be the standard 18.25 ounce cake mix suddenly shrunk to 15.25 ounces. Have you noticed this?

That might not be a problem if you're using that cake mix to make the cake according to the back-of-the-box instructions, which is going to turn out noticeably smaller, by the way. But if you're into hacking a cake mix (where the mix becomes a single ingredient in a much better recipe for anything from waffles, to cookies, to much-improved cake), it's a problem. Those recipes in my little "100 Things" cookbook all assume an 18.25 ounce cake mix. And why not? That's the way it had been for decades.

Does it really matter? It does, because unlike cooking a pot roast or lasagna where exact measurements are not critical, baking relies on chemical reactions. Exact measurements do matter.

But there's good news! If your cake mix is too small, it's easy to remedy. Here are three options:


Method #1: Purchase two 15.25 ounce cake mixes. Add 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) from the second mix to make up the difference. Keep the balance of that second mix in a tightly sealed container to use the next time you make this cake.

Method #2: Purchase a plain yellow cake mix and empty its contents into a glass mason jar. Keep it tightly covered and stored in the pantry. When you need to supplement any flavor cake mix so that it is a full 18.25 ounces, remove 3 ounces of the yellow cake mix and add to the 15.25 ounce cake mix. Yellow cake mix has a neutral flavor, so this is not going to adversely affect the outcome.

Method #3: Make your own "Cake Mix Upsizer"

To upsize white and yellow cake mixes:


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