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As the leaves change color and the crisp autumn air begins to settle in, there’s no better way to embrace the season than with a delicious pumpkin spice cake. Perhaps you’ve picked up a box of pumpkin spice cake mix from the store, but you’re looking for ways to elevate it and make it taste even better. You’re in luck because we have some simple tips to do just that!
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix Better
You might be wondering what makes this pumpkin spice cake mix different from others. The key lies in the unique blend of spices that give it the iconic pumpkin spice flavor.
In a typical pumpkin spice cake mix, you’ll find ingredients like flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. What sets it apart are the additional spices, which usually include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. These spices give the cake its warm, comforting aroma and taste.
Pumpkin spice cake made from a mix is delicious as is, but if you want to have some fun with it and make an extra special Thanksgiving dessert, keep reading for some easy tips and tricks.
Improve the Mix Method
Proper mixing techniques can make all the difference in your pumpkin spice cake. When combining wet and dry ingredients, don’t overmix the batter. Here are a few tips to help you:
- Use a spatula or wooden spoon to gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
- Be careful not to overmix, as it can lead to a dense, tough cake.
- If using an electric mixer, mix on low speed for a short duration.
Maintaining Proper Temperature
The temperature at which you bake and prepare your pumpkin spice cake can greatly affect its overall quality. Follow these steps to ensure optimal temperature conditions:
- Preheat the oven: Preheat your oven to the recommended temperature on the mix box (usually around 350°F). Place a rack in the middle of the oven for the best results.
- Room temperature ingredients: Using room temperature ingredients like eggs and milk can help create a smoother batter. To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, place them in a warm water bath for about 10 minutes.
- Monitor the baking time: Check your cake about 5 minutes before the suggested bake time, as ovens may vary. If a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, then your cake is done!
Add Extra Flavors
Nuts and Seeds
Enhance your pumpkin spice cake mix by incorporating nuts and seeds into the batter. Not only do they provide a delightful crunch, but they also contribute to the overall flavor. Here are a few nut options to try:
- Walnuts: The earthy taste of walnuts pairs exceptionally well with the warm spices of pumpkin spice cake.
- Pecans: Their buttery, slightly sweet flavor goes hand-in-hand with the cake’s tender crumb, creating a perfect balance.
- Pumpkin seeds: Add roasted pumpkin seeds directly to the mix for a unique pumpkin-on-pumpkin experience.
Boost the natural sweetness of your cake mix by adding fruits. The moisture they bring will make your cake even more delicious and moist. Check out these popular fruit pairings:
- Apples: Finely dice or grate apples and fold them through the cake mix to infuse a fruity twist.
- Raisins: Plump raisins can elevate the cake’s sweetness and provide a chewy texture.
- Cranberries: Consider adding dried or fresh cranberries for a burst of tartness that complements the pumpkin spice flavors.
Sweet or Savory Twist
- Sweet: Add a pinch of extra cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves to accentuate the mix’s natural sweetness. Alternatively, include some chocolate chips or caramel bits for a rich and indulgent touch.
- Savory: Crumble-cooked bacon or mix in grated cheese to create a unique flavor experience that’s perfect for brunch or tea time.
Cream Cheese Frosting
A classic choice for pumpkin spice cake is cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting adds a tangy and creamy texture that perfectly complements the warm spices in your cake. To make it, simply beat together softened cream cheese, unsalted butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Adjust the sweetness to your liking by adding more or less powdered sugar.
If you prefer a sweeter and more traditional frosting, consider buttercream. There are several buttercream flavors to try:
- Vanilla buttercream: Beat unsalted butter, powdered sugar, milk or cream, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.
- Spiced buttercream: Add pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon to your vanilla buttercream for an extra spicy kick.
- Caramel buttercream: Mix in a spoonful of caramel sauce to your vanilla buttercream for a rich and decadent flavor.
For a lighter and airier option, try whipped cream. You can make homemade whipped cream by simply whipping heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. For an added touch, fold in some pumpkin pie spice or grated nutmeg. Whipped cream is best served immediately.
Alternative Frosting Choices
If you’re looking for something different or have dietary restrictions, try these alternative frosting choices:
- Vegan “cream cheese” frosting: Replace regular cream cheese and butter with vegan alternatives, and use plant-based milk instead of dairy. This frosting will have a similar tangy and creamy texture as traditional cream cheese frosting.
- Coconut cream frosting: For a dairy-free option, whip chilled coconut cream with powdered sugar and vanilla extract. This frosting will have a subtle coconut flavor.
- Glaze: Mix powdered sugar, milk or water, and vanilla extract (or your preferred flavoring) to create a simple glaze.
Storing Your Pumpkin Spice Cake
To keep your pumpkin spice cake fresh and tasty, follow these tips:
- Allow the cake to cool completely before storing, as placing a warm cake in an airtight container may cause condensation and make the cake soggy.
- Store in an airtight container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent the cake from drying out.
- Keep your cake at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, refrigerate or freeze the cake.
- To freeze, wrap the cake tightly in several layers of plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in a resealable freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator or at room temperature when you’re ready to serve.
Any tips for improving Pillsbury Pumpkin Cake Mix?
To enhance the Pillsbury Pumpkin Cake Mix, you can add a half cup of sour cream or yogurt to the batter, giving it a richer and moist texture. Additionally, you can replace the water with milk for a creamier taste. Don’t forget to mix in some chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or dried fruits to add more flavor.
What can be added to Duncan Hines spice cake to make it more pumpkin-flavored?
To give your Duncan Hines spice cake a more pumpkin-forward flavor, consider adding a cup of pumpkin puree and a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice to the mix. You can even enhance the flavor further by substituting the water with buttermilk or apple cider.
What are some creative ideas for an easy pumpkin spice cake?
For an easy and creative pumpkin spice cake, try ideas like adding a maple cream cheese frosting or sprinkling the top of the cake with cinnamon-sugar toasted pecans. You can also create a pumpkin-chocolate swirl by adding melted chocolate to half of the batter and gently swirling the two batters together.