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Tips for Next-Level Boxed Cakes

There’s a time and place for boxed cake—large gatherings that call for quantity, dessert at a vacation rental, and, yup, when you inevitably forget someone’s birthday. But just because you’re taking a baking shortcut doesn’t mean you need to shortcut the flavor. Follow our easy tips to take your boxed cake from satisfactory to special-occasion.

The tips:

  1. Enrich the fats to create a more flavorful and moist cake. Swap melted butter for oil, milk for water, and/or add an extra egg to the total count. 
  2. Enhance the flavor by adding citrus juice or zest, chocolate, coffee, extras, and/or spices. 
  3. Garnish the frosted cake with fresh fruit, sprinkles, chocolate or coconut shavings, etc. Never underestimate the power of a good accessory!

Here’s what we did to upgrade a box of pumpkin cake:

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Misfits Market


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 cup milk 
  • ½ cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom 
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pack Pillsbury Pumpkin Cake Mix
  • 1 container Pillsbury cream cheese frosting 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch cake pans with butter and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, milk, pumpkin purée, vanilla extract, orange zest, spices, and salt. Add in cake mix and whisk again to combine. 
  3. Transfer cake batter into cake pans and bake until the tops and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Once baked allow the cakes to cool completely. 
  4. Meanwhile, combine frosting with maple syrup and whisk until smooth. 
  5. Once cakes are cooled, frost and decorate as preferred. Enjoy!

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