Boxed cake mix is no stranger to the modern American home—from funfetti to red velvet, cake mixes have been a staple in kitchen cupboards since the late 1930s. Developed as a solution to wartime rationing, cake mixes have a long history of love for its easy directions and reliable results. Today, many cake mixes contain the basic recipe from its original conception, but many stabilizers and preservatives are now included to extend shelf life and meet grocery standards. In order to avoid the extra junk, making your own cake mix is super simple. When you need a shortcut, simply mix with a few wet ingredients and bake—watch your back, Betty Crocker!

History

Credited to John D. Duff in 1929, the invention of the cake mix stemmed from a surplus in molasses in which Duff figured out how to dehydrate the sugar and then turn it into a gingerbread mix. Made up of flour, powdered eggs, sugar, and leavening agents, cake mixes became a popular pantry item in the 1930s. When sales slowed after World War II, developers realized that if they required the addition of a fresh egg to the recipe, housewives would feel more ownership of the final product and buy more. Today, cake mixes span many traditional cakes, trendy colors, and futuristic flavors.

Recipe (courtesy of I Am Baker)

2 3/4 cups flour

1 3/4 cups superfine sugar*

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1. Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Sift before using.

2. When ready to prepare, cream 3/4 cup unsalted butter. Add 5 egg whites, one at a time, until mixed. Add 1 cup milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Mix in the dry ingredients. Pour batter into 2 8-inch round pans.

3. Bake at 325-350°F for 20-30 minutes.

*Make your own superfine sugar by processing cane sugar in a blender for a few seconds. Or, you can purchase superfine sugar in many gourmet grocery stores.

Tips

Every time you use your homemade cake mix, be sure sure to sift all of the ingredients, as some may have settled into the bottom over time. Without sifting first, you may get unreliable results from an unbalanced flour base.

Chocolate Cake Mix

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Are you forever craving chocolate? Include cocoa powder in your mix for a rich, chocolatey cake. Get the recipe.

Yellow Cake Mix

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Craving that buttery sheet cake, without all the extra work? Stock this simple DIY for yellow cake mix (plus gluten free options!) in your pantry for when the craving hits. Get the recipe.

Funfetti Cake Mix

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Are you totally into the ‘80s classic recipe, minus all the extra mystery ingredients? Make your own confetti cake mix by including white whole wheat flour and organic sprinkles, if you please. Get the recipe.

Rachel Johnson is a millennial food person; she writes about food, all she Instagrams is food, and she just can't stop talking about it. Her first cookbook, "Stupid Good: A Shut Up and Cook Book" was published in 2014, encouraging the merits of fresh, vibrant food and cooking for yourself as a twentysomething. Today, Rachel works as a freelance food writer and photographer specializing in online food media and manages her brand, Stupid Good Food. She lives in Austin with her boyfriend, dog, and full pantry.
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