Sometimes you just need cake, and while I love baking cake from scratch it takes a lot more time than I often have at hand. Bean got promoted to a new job this week so I wanted to make him something special, but baking a surprise cake with a toddler can be a challenge! Enter: the doctored up vanilla cake! All you need is your favorite cake mix and a few special ingredients and you have a delicious cake in minutes!
For the Cake:
1 box of white cake, any brand
*1 cup water
1T vanilla bean paste
1 small box vanilla pudding
½ cup of sour cream
*These were the ingredients for my box cake, if yours specifies a different amount of eggs/oil/water, go ahead and use them!
For the Buttercream:
1 cup of strawberries, hulled and quartered
¼ cup of sugar
1 bag of powdered sugar (2lbs)
1 cup of shortening
1 cup of butter
1-3 T of milk
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour 2, 8” round pans. If you want to make things slightly easier when releasing your cake, add a parchment circle to the bottom and then grease it lightly; your cake will pop right out when it’s done!
In a large mixing bowl, or your stand mixer, add your cake, and the ingredients listed on the back of the box (in my case, 3 eggs, ½ cup of oil, and 1 cup of water)
Go ahead and give it an initial mix, making sure all of your ingredients are combined.
Now add your vanilla bean paste, vanilla pudding, and sour cream. Mix on low until your pudding mix is combined, then crank it up to medium high speed for 2 minutes. We want to incorporate a little air so we get a nice fluffy cake batter.
Split your batter between the two cake pans and put those babies in the oven. Cake batter in 5 minutes accomplished!
Set your timer for 20-30 minutes, when it beeps check your cake in one of two ways:
Stick a toothpick in it: if it comes out clean, the cake is done! If it comes out gooey, stick the cake back in the oven for a few more minutes.
Touch test: If you can’t find a toothpick, or just don’t want a holie (yeah it’s not a real word) cake you can use this method. If you touch the top of your cake and it feels spongy and bounces back, it is done! If you notice it jiggling when you pull the oven rack forward it is not done yet.
Let your cakes cool for 5 minutes, and then de-pan them. Set aside to cool while you mix your frosting.
For the frosting:
In a food processor, add your strawberries and sugar, pulse until you have a strawberry puree.
In a mixer, whip your shortening and butter together until light and fluffy.
Add your powdered sugar to the bowl and whip on low until combined. Add your strawberry puree, mix on low to combine, then turn up your mixer to medium high speed to whip your frosting up into fluffy goodness.
If your frosting is too thick for your liking, you can add a tablespoon of milk at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. When you make a fruit buttercream, like we are, you don’t usually need to add a lot, if any, milk because the fruit adds enough liquid.
Now that your cakes are cooled, go ahead and level out the top with a serrated knife.
Plop 1 cup of that glorious frosting on top of one of your cakes and spread it around, then top it with the second cake.
Use an offset spatula to spread icing over the entire cake. You could use other methods to ice the outside of your cake, piping with a star tip, the spoon pull. Any method works, use what you know best, and what you have time for!
Top with sliced strawberries and enjoy!