The proof is in the pudding. Well in this case, first the boxed cake mix, then the pudding. Blogger and self-described “foodie” Shay Shull takes boxed cake mixes to a whole new level in her adorable new cookbook “Mix & Match Cakes: The Simple Secret to 101 Delicious, Wow-worthy Cakes.”

The book is separated into seasons and then holidays. Each cake starts with a boxed mix – either chocolate or vanilla – and is then spruced up with simple ingredients: extra eggs, a dry pudding packet or two, Jell-O mix; Shull also gives recipes for homemade ganache and glazes. The idea, as she puts it in the introduction, is to mix and match the main ingredients, then “create a whole new cake using the same method and producing the same yummy result.”

All of the recipes are designed for standard Bundt pans, but a chart at the beginning lets you easily substitute other pans, or cupcake tins, and calculates baking times for such swaps. The recipes are easy enough for a child to follow – with some adult supervision. “Mix & Match Cakes,” which has a photograph with every recipe, stands about 6½ inches tall, another reason it’s perfect for small hands.

Shay dedicates the book to one of her daughters, who she says helped bake every cake in the book. The introduction alone made me like the book. I have fond memories of baking with my mother when I was young. I had a child-sized apron, pink with a frilly edge and a fluffy lamb embroidered on the front. My mother still has it, slightly stained but in good shape, and when my niece is big enough, she’ll be wearing it and baking with her grandmother.

I’m grown up now, but I still love to bake, so I happily tested multiple recipes. When I brought the results to small events or parties, Nutella, Fresh Blueberry and Oreo were hits. Even if you’re not a skilled cake decorator, these recipes all produced handsome cakes.

Pecan Pie – the cake version – is already on the family sign-up sheet for Thanksgiving, and you better believe the Peppermint Mocha batter will be rising in my oven on the day of this winter’s first snowfall. I’ve made the Nutella cake twice now – the frosting alone is to die for! One friend described it as “the moistest cake ever.”



Yield: 1 Bundt cake

1 box chocolate cake mix

2 small boxes instant chocolate pudding

½ cup vegetable oil

1¼ cups water


4 eggs

1½ cups Nutella, divided

4 cups powdered sugar

½ cup butter, softened

3 to 4 splashes of milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 10-inch Bundt pan. In mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, puddings, oil, water and eggs with electric mixer.

Mix in ¾ cup of Nutella. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cake rest on counter in pan for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto a serving plate to finish cooling.

To make the frosting, combine the powdered sugar, butter, milk and remaining ¾ cup Nutella with electric mixer until creamy. Spread on cooled cake.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: