A few years back, I became a bit obsessed with The Cake Mix Doctor. It all started when Alex and I took some cake decorating classes together, so we were making a lot of cakes to practice on, which meant using boxed cake mix as the fastest way to have a fresh “canvas”. Although boxed cake mix can be quite tasty at times, I was getting a little bored with the flavors. Somehow I stumbled on The Cake Mix Doctor and thought it was ingenious that such creative baked goods could come from a cheap little cake mix. I HAD to have the book and started experimenting with her recipes. Since then, a Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor and Cupcakes! By the Cake Mix Doctor have been released. As my baking has progressed, however, I’ve started to try more from-scratch recipes and trans fats also scare me….
I signed up to make cupcakes for a church activity and I wanted to get rid of a cake mix sitting in the cupboard. Following Ms. Byrn’s guidelines, I fancied up my cake mix with other cupboard finds and went to work. In the books, Anne is adamant about making frosting from scratch and never using the store-bought cans. I totally agree! Making it at home is really quite simple and also easy to remedy if you make it too runny (add more sugar) or too thick (add more milk). And it’s fun to try out adding extracts of your choice
How did they taste? Well, I was planning on just eating the top of one cupcake to make sure it was decent enough, and I ended up eating 2 whole ones. Alex had a couple as well. So, they were just right- light and fluffy, but moist (thanks to the pudding) with creamy, fresh icing. Thankfully, I only had to bring 12 to the activity….
Easy (and fast) Lemon Cupcakes with Almond Frosting Makes 22 to 24 cupcakes
1 box (18.25 oz.) french vanilla or yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 box (3.9 oz.) lemon instant pudding
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake liners in 2 standard size cupcake pans.
Place the cake mix, eggs, water, milk, oil, pudding and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more. Spoon batter into each cupcake liner, filling it 3/4 of the way full.
Bake the cupcakes 20 minutes, until the spring back when lightly pressed. Remove pans from the oven and place on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Lift the cupcakes out of the pans using the end of a knife, and pick them up with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool at least 15 minutes before frosting.
Almond Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons almond extract
Place the butter in a large bowl and blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the maching and add the powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk and almond extract. Blend with mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute more. If frosting seems too thick, add one more tablespoon of milk and blend until smooth.
Frost cupcakes with a smooth knife and decorate with your choice of toppings!