DIY Essentials: Versatile Yellow Cake Mix

Andy Anderson !


Why make your own, when there are so many brands of yellow cake mix on the market?

Good question. And, I will answer that question in the body of the recipe. And, at the end, I will give you the ingredients, to make a yummy batter for a two-layer cake.

So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.


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10 Min
No-Cook or Other




  • 2 1/2 c
  • 1 1/2 c
  • 4 tsp
    baking powder
  • 1 tsp
    salt, kosher variety, fine grind

  • 4 Tbsp
    sweet butter, unsalted, softened
  • 1 c
    whole milk
  • 2/3 c
    grapeseed oil
  • 3 large
    egg, room temperature
  • 2 tsp
    pure vanilla extract, or almond, or lemon, or whatever flavor you choose

How to Make DIY Essentials: Versatile Yellow Cake Mix


  1. Some recipes have you adding the butter with the dry ingredients, and then storing until needed. But, do not do this... Adding the butter up front, will greatly shorten the shelf life of the dry ingredients. Add the butter; along with the remainder of the wet ingredients, when you are ready to bake.

    FYI: Some recipes call for lard, in place of the butter. In my opinion, stick with good old sweet butter.
  2. If you substitute buttermilk instead of whole milk. It makes the cake denser (holds up to fondant better) and adds a richness to the flavor.

    FYI: If you are not into dairy, you can always use filtered water.

    Almond milk,
    Black coffee
    Pureed carrots (why not)

    When choosing a substitute, think about the flavors you want your cake to have. For example, almond milk would go well in a vanilla cake, and coffee with a chocolate cake. Strain out any grounds when using coffee.

    You might even consider skipping the liquid.
    Rich, dense cakes may use only sugar, eggs, butter, oil and flavoring such as chocolate or coconut. The eggs and butter supply enough moisture to hold the ingredients together without the addition of water or other liquids. For a dense, chewy, brownie-like cake, leave out the water altogether and add a bit more eggs and oil.
  4. Gather your Ingredients (mise en place).
  5. Take all the dry ingredients, mix them up, place in a vessel with a tight-fitting lid, and stick in the fridge, until ready to use.

    PHEW, I am totally exhausted.
    This is the fun of making your own…
  7. FLOUR
    I tried several types of flour, and two stood out to me:
    • Unbleached all-purpose flour
    • Cake flour
    The main difference in wheat flours found on the grocery store shelves is the amount of protein they contain. The higher the percentage of protein found in the flour, the greater its strength.
    All-purpose flour is an all-around good flour to use for baking breads, cakes, muffins, and for mixing up a batch of pancake batter. All-purpose has a protein content of 10-13% and it will perform very well, time after time.

    On the other hand, cake flour has 8-9% protein, making it the frailest of flours, but it sure can whip up some tender cake layers that melt in your mouth.

    To substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour, the most accurate way to do it is to pull out a kitchen scale and substitute it ounce for ounce. All-purpose flour weighs 4.5 ounces per cup while cake flour weights 4 ounces per cup. Since cake flour weighs less, you are using more per recipe, per cup, or 1/2 ounce more per cup. For example, if you need 2.5 cups of all-purpose flour (11.25 ounces), and you use the same weight in cake flour, you would have 2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon. In my opinion, when you are working with dry goods (like flour) the best way to get an accurate volume is to use a scale.

    If you want a yellow cake mix that is firm (muffins, sheet pan cakes), all-purpose is the logical choice. However, if you are looking for something lighter (think things like angel cake), then go with cake flour.

    Or, may I suggest mixing the two flours together. My favorite blend is 60% cake flour, 40% all-purpose.

    If you purchase your yellow cake mix in a box, you cannot switch flours… It is all about control.

    FYI: I tried all types of flour for this recipe; even rye flour. If you are thinking of using rye flour, my advice to you is… DO NOT!

    I did not explore non-gluten flours, such as: tapioca, and almond. That will be a subject for another post.
  8. Sugar
    Like with the flour, I tried several different types of sugar, and two stood out:
    • Granulated white sugar
    • Coconut sugar, light variety

    Granulated white sugar is the most common, and most obvious choice. It mixes well with the other ingredients, and produces sweet-tasting results.

    On the other hand, coconut sugar will not spike your blood sugars like granulated white sugar, but it does change the flavor of the mix. Think of the flavor notes of light brown sugar, and you have an idea of how it will taste.

    FYI: If you are using coconut sugar in this recipe, reduce the amount by 1/4 cup.

    Note on confectioner’s sugar. While confectioner’s sugar, or powdered sugar is basically finely ground granulated sugar, they typically add an anti-caking agent, like cornstarch. For that reason, I would not use it in this specific recipe, because it would give the finished product a chewy texture… It does, however, work well in certain types of baked cookies.

    If you are concerned about your sugar intake, then you might want to explore coconut sugar, or you could try a combination of the two… Up to you.
  10. This recipe will make two cake layers, using standard 9-inch cake pans (23cm).

    ~ Add the dry ingredients to a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment.

    ~ Add the softened butter, and blend on medium speed until mixed into the dry ingredients.

    ~ Add the oil and milk, and mix to combine.

    ~ Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.

    ~ Finally, add the extract, and mix to combine.

    Divide the batter between two greased/floured cake pans, and bake in a preheated 350f (175c) oven, for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the batter comes up clean. Enjoy.
  11. Keep the faith, and keep cooking.

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About DIY Essentials: Versatile Yellow Cake Mix

Course/Dish: Cakes
Main Ingredient: Flour
Regional Style: American
Dietary Needs: Vegetarian Low Sodium Soy Free
Other Tag: Quick & Easy

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