Category Archives: Semi-Homemade

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 9

How cute and whimsical is this semi-homemade Snowman Cake! This is another great Christmas Cake to make with your kiddos!  They will have so much fun helping you apply the coconut and assorted decorations.

Snowman Cake
Christmas Snowman Cake

This cake, featured at familydollar.com, calls for a white cake mix, but you could certainly use whatever flavor catches your fancy… red velvet would be a great alternative, as would chocolate or spice.  The choice is yours! Also, they suggest the use of melted candy coating to apply as “glue” to make the candy canes stick to the cones.  This really isn’t necessary, simply apply small dabs of the frosting to the cones and attach the canes.  One less ingredient to worry about! 🙂

Also, I know there are a lot of you out there who would never entertain the notion of baking a cake with a pre-made mix and that’s okay!  You can certainly use your favorite recipe to make this cake but, as for me, sometimes I am known to opt for the time-saving convenience of using a pre-made cake mix, particularly during the busy holiday season.  However, I do make adjustments to the cake to make it taste more like a bakery cake by following these simple steps:

  • Use equal amounts melted, unsalted butter in place of the vegetable oil.  The butter gives the cake a much richer, bakery like taste.
  • Use equal amounts whole milk in place of the water.  This also improves the flavor, as well as the texture of the cake.
  •  For those of you who like cakes made with buttermilk, use buttermilk powder reconstituted with water as per the instructions in equal amounts as called for in the cake mix. I personally love this stuff and use it frequently since it doesn’t require refrigeration.  I don’t know about you, but when I use fresh buttermilk I usually end up throwing some away and I so hate waste!  If you have never used buttermilk powder I urge you to give it a try.  It is readily available in the baking isle of well-stocked grocery stores.
  • Add 1 extra egg to the mix.  This makes for an even richer, fluffier cake.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract.  This also greatly improves the flavor and takes away that “cake mix” taste.
  • If you are using a chocolate mix, add 1 tbsp instant coffee granules to the whole milk and warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  This really livens up the chocolate flavor of the cake.

You will find that if you use the above substitutions you will end up with a cake that no one will ever suspect was made from a cake mix.  I promise your secret is safe with me (unless you tell them, of course 😉  )!

Semi-homemade should never mean you have to sacrifice flavor, not in my world at least.  And while I generally tend to make things from all natural ingredients, there are those times when I certainly fall back on a semi-homemade recipe.  They are true time-savers, particularly during the busy holiday season.

I would love to hear your thoughts on using semi-homemade recipes… do ya’ll love ’em or do you hate ’em? Be sure to let me know.

Until next time ya’ll, have a great day filled with great food and lots of love and be sure to stop back by for tomorrow’s new 12 Days of Christmas Cake and Cheesecake post.  I promise it will be another mouthwatering holiday goody!

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12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 8

Christmas is coming, ya’ll! I love Christmas! The hustle, the bustle, the generosity and warmth of spirit, the excitement of the children… truly joyous and so heartwarming!

And,  oh yes, the food… let’s not forget the food! Cookies, candies, cocktails, appetizers… oh, my! If you are a foodie, like me, this is truly a glorious time of year. 🙂

So for today’s featured recipe I thought I would share with you one of my personal holiday favorites… the Bacardi Rum Cake. This cake was originally published in the 1970’s by Bacardi and has been a huge hit ever since.

Bacardi Rum Cake
Bacardi Rum Cake – A Christmas Holiday Family Favorite –                                                      Photo: Swimprincess327.blogspot.com

This is a semi-homemade cake that starts with a yellow cake mix and instant pudding.  Don’t let the simplicity of the recipe fool you.  This is truly a delicious cake.  I strongly suggest you make two because before you know it the first one will have disappeared.  It is… just… that… good!  In fact, make a bunch and share with your friends.  This makes a delicious Christmas gift, as well, and holds up beautifully for shipping to your distant friends and relatives.  My friends, this cake truly improves in flavor with age!

One more thing, ya’ll.  I hate to dampen your holiday spirit, but I have to share a personal pet peeve of mine.  I don’t know about you, but I find it very upsetting that one of our corporate food giants’ favorite marketing gimmicks is to reduce the volume of food in their packaging and then further rub salt in the wound by making claims that they are not raising food prices.  I guess they feel that we, as consumers, aren’t intelligent enough to figure this out!

I mention this to you because the recipe I am sharing with you today is affected by this.  As I told you, this semi-homemade recipe dates back to the 1970’s and features the use of Duncan Hine’s Yellow Cake Mix, which used to contain 18.25 ounces.  Today, however, this same cake mix now has 16.5 ounces.  Ouch!  Shame on you, Duncan Hines (and Pillsbury… and Betty Crocker)!

Wegman’s took the time to send a direct inquiry to Duncan Hines as to why they made this change…  here is a direct quote from Duncan Hine’s in response to Wegman’s inquiry:  “We have reformulated our Duncan Hines classic cake mix line to offer the same moistness and delicious taste you know and expect from Duncan Hines. As a result of the reformulation we were able to reduce the weight of our classic cake mixes from 18.25 ounces to 16.5 ounces and still deliver the same size cake/cupcakes, allowing us to provide the same great value to you despite rapidly rising raw material costs that would otherwise require us to raise our prices. You should continue to follow the directions on the box to ensure consistent results.”

Hmmmm… I am wondering, if the cake was already moist and delicious, why they felt the need to reformulate it to make the same moist and delicious cake we know and expect from Duncan Hines. Gee, why couldn’t it be a more moist and delicious cake and still stay at 18.25 ounces!  Because we all know, eventually, the price of the cake mix is going to be raised anyway, so now we end up with a smaller, more expensive cake mix, with bakers everywhere scratching their heads and frantically calculating how to adjust recipes that incorporate these mixes!

Luckily, I was able to find a smart baker who has done her homework and has modified the original Bacardi Rum Cake recipe to reflect today’s significantly smaller cake mixes. Thank you, Anne Papina! The cake is still delicious and will, forever and always, be one of my holiday favorites! Here also is a link from Rose Bakes with detailed instructions on how to convert semi-homemade recipes using these smaller mixes.

Okay, ya’ll… I’m off my soapbox, for now! 🙂 I would love to hear your thoughts on the sneaky marketing tactics used by our corporate food giants… as well as the delicious Bacardi Rum Cake recipe I have shared with you! Happy Baking and Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 4

Today I thought I would share with you a Christmas cake that is festive, whimsical, and great fun to do with the little ones!

Oh, and did I mention easy? With just 4 ingredients, it doesn’t get much easier than this! All you need is pound cake, whipped cream, decorator icing, candies… and your kids!

So grab the kiddos, head to the store (kids are optional for this 🙂 ), and click here  to have some Christmas fun!

Christmas Tree Cake

Semi-Homemade Christmas Tree Cake from B-Inspired Mama

Taking time out from your busy holiday schedule and spending some time with your children and other loved ones can bring the true meaning of Christmas back into perspective.  The magic of Christmas exists not in the material gifts we give and receive, nor in the hustle and bustle of attending festivities, baking goodies, and decorating our homes. The true meaning of Christmas resides within us, not around us.

The generosity and warmth of spirit that becomes so palpable during the holiday season is a radiation emanating deep within our collective souls. This should tell us how powerful we can become when we unite together and focus on the truly important things in life and provide us with the desire to carry these feelings all throughout the year, not just during the Christmas season!

Here’s a beautiful Christmas Song by Enya, “The Spirit of Christmas Past”,  for you to listen to and  reflect on the beauty of Christmas!

The Spirit of Christmas Past by Enya
The Spirit of Christmas Past by Enya

Since I let you off easy today and gave you a semi-homemade cake to share with your family, tomorrow’s post will be a bit more challenging for all you daring baker types out there!  For your hints, think of a famous French Christmas cake and chocolate!

See you tomorrow and may the spirit of Christmas fill your heart and soul! 🙂