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How to Extend a Boxed Cake Mix: 3 Recipe Options

Cake savant, cookie master, and overall Dessert Expert extraordinaire! Self-awarded titles, of course.

When a single tier isn't the plan, use this cake extender recipe to create beauties like this with less hassle.

When a single tier isn't the plan, use this cake extender recipe to create beauties like this with less hassle.

What Is a Cake Extender?

A lot of us professional cake artists have a little trick up our sleeve to keep our cakes tasting their best while using shortcuts that prove tried and true. One of those tricks is also a pretty well-guarded secret amongst us. It's the boxed cake mix extender.

Many professional cake decorators use a boxed mix to create their art. And why not? Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines have perfected their formula over decades to ensure that every single cake you bake tastes exactly the same with no surprises. My personal favorite box brand is Betty Crocker, and I use it often. I'm not ashamed to admit that.

Sometimes, however, you'll find yourself in a bind where you don't have enough boxed mix to create a large enough cake. Or you just want your cake to look more homemade than a boxed mix does. I have personally used every single one of these extenders, and I've written them in order from "all-time favorite" to "it works."

How Much Batter Do You Need?

The single cake you pull from your cake pan is called a layer. When you stack another layer on top with frosting in the middle, it's called a tier.

Most professional cakes are composed of two two-inch layers to make a four-inch tier. With frosting, the tier usually ends up being five inches tall altogether. You need to decide first how tall you need your cake tier to be. Then you need to decide if it's going to be a multi-tier or a single tier. If you're going to make a multi-tiered cake, you need to decide what size pans you're going to use. The rule of thumb is to leave two inches of space between each tier. This means if you're planning a two-tier cake, you should use six-inch and eight-inch pans. In order to figure out how much batter you need, you can use a batter chart to decide how much you're going to need altogether.

I suggest figuring up exactly how much batter you're going to need before you even start baking. This way you won't run into any surprises and be left with your hands in the air and your head in the clouds.

Each box mix cake creates four cups of batter when prepared using the instructions on the box. All of the following cake mix extender recipes stretch that to six cups of batter. Make sure you take that into account when you're calculating how much batter you're going to need for your cake.

One last tip for figuring up how much batter you're going to use—it's pretty important to know how many people your cake will feed. There are many charts available that will show you how to calculate how many people can be fed by each pan size. You don't want a cake with so much left it's going to end up in the trash, and you don't want a cake that leaves everyone wanting more.

Here are the most common cake pan sizes and the batter amounts you will need. Visit wilton.com for other sizes and shapes to see exactly how much batter you will need for your project.

Here are the most common cake pan sizes and the batter amounts you will need. Visit wilton.com for other sizes and shapes to see exactly how much batter you will need for your project.

Read More From Delishably

1. My Personal Favorite Cake Extender

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla emulsion
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter

There are no special instructions with this extender. All you need to do is mix the ingredients together until there are no lumps. Remember that this will be 6 cups of batter, and an 8" cake pan holds 4 cups of batter. Don't overfill your cake pans.

Follow the baking instructions on the box, and you're done.

2. Second-Best Cake Extender Recipe

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla emulsion

Exactly like the first recipe, make the box mix according to the directions on the package. Add in the other ingredients in any order at all and just mix until there are no lumps and your batter is smooth. Bake your cakes according to the instructions on the package.

The reason this is my second-favorite recipe is it doesn't add as much fat as the first, and it seems that the cakes aren't quite as moist as the first. However, this recipe is still very good and makes a delicious cake.

3. Third-Favorite Cake Extender Recipe

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

There are no special instructions to prepare this extender, either. It's straight-forward. Mix the box mix as per the instructions, add the other ingredients, and mix until the batter is nice and smooth.

The reason this extender is my third-favorite option is that it doesn't seem to change the flavor or consistency at all. I've also found that when I used this recipe, I needed to use simple syrup between the layers to ensure the cake's moistness. However, as with the other cake extenders, it works and will create more cake batter than you started with.

When you need a ton of cake layers, the best hack of all is the cake extender recipe.

When you need a ton of cake layers, the best hack of all is the cake extender recipe.

What About Flavors?

The recipes for these cake extenders are based on vanilla cake. If you're using the extender for other flavors of cake, you'll need to adjust the recipe as needed. Here are some additions to create the most popular cake flavors. You're only limited by your imagination when it comes to creating flavors.

  • Chocolate: Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder and an extra 1/4 cup sugar.
  • Strawberry: Add 1 teaspoon of strawberry flavoring along with the vanilla. You can also add 1/4 cup pulverized freeze-dried strawberries, or 1/2 cup mashed fresh strawberries.
  • Lemon: Add 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 1/4 cup simple syrup.
  • Orange: Add 1/4 cup fresh orange juice and omit the vanilla emulsion.

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