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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

I tried the canned pumpkin and cake mix hack with my homemade spice cake mix!

Kris had mentioned using canned pumpkin with a box of spice cake mix in the comments from my post on gingerbread with homemade spice cake mix last week.  Kris said she uses 1 box of spice cake mix, 1 can of pumpkin puree, and 1/2 cup of water, mixed together then baked in a 9 X 13-inch baker. I said I might give it a try with my homemade spice cake mix. I did. And it worked beautifully and was delicious!

Here's what I did:

I had a little homemade spice cake mix leftover but not nearly enough for this application. So I made another batch and added it to my leftover mix, until I had about 3  1/3 cups of homemade spice cake mix (the amount that is roughly what you get in a commercial box of cake mix).

I stirred in one 15-oz can of pumpkin puree and a little over 1/2 cup of water (about 1 extra tablespoon until the mixture looked spreadable, like brownie batter).

I spread this mixture in a buttered 9 X 13-inch Pyrex baking dish. It was a thick batter, not thin like regular cake batter. 

I baked it at 350 F for almost exactly 30 minutes, using a toothpick to determine doneness.

After it cooled, I topped it with the cream cheese topping below.

Reduced-Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting (enough for 12 cupcakes or a thin layer on a 1/4 sheet cake -- 9 X 13 inch)

Mix together until smooth:

  • 4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter, very soft
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
After the mixture is smooth, refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up, then spread on cake(s).

This is a dense cake that I would say is a lot like a snack cake, but lower in fat (no added oil). With the not-terribly-sweet cream cheese frosting, the cake makes a decent breakfast cake in addition to being good for desserts and snacks.

Thanks Kris for sharing this idea. I'm happy to say that it worked well with the homemade spice cake mix.

If you're following a cake mix hack using a homemade cake mix, you'll want about 3  1/4 to 3  1/3 cups of your homemade cake mix. You may find, as I did, that homemade cake mix is possibly denser than commercial mixes. So slightly less mix (the 3  1/4 cup amount) or else slightly more water/liquid (as in 1 extra tablespoon for the recipe) may be appropriate.

If you are substituting pumpkin that you cooked and pureed at home, the 1/2 cup water may be just right for 3  1/3 cups of homemade cake mix. Home-cooked pumpkin puree is often slightly more watery than commercially canned puree.

Happy, healthy baking!


  1. Lynn from NC Outer BanksDecember 15, 2020 at 4:56 PM

    Like Kris, I learned of this substitution in Weight Watchers way back when. But, I've not baked it lately. Thanks for the reminder. I've got a can of pumpkin and now I have your home made spice recipe. Thanks Lili. Everyone have a good week.

  2. I was going to get a spice cake mix when I was out tonight, but the store was too busy. Now that you've given us the particulars with your homemade spice cake mix, I'm good to go. Thanks, Kris and Lili.

  3. Oh my goodness, I never thought anyone would jump on this "recipe" so quickly! It looks delicious and Lili, it IS a very dense batter (and cake) and that's what the batter looks like when I use a cake mix. I bet it's even better with your homemade mix as homemade is always more tasty. I usually top individual slices with whipped topping but I'll have to try your frosting sometime. I never thought to serve it for breakfast, but I'm sure my family would love me more if I did! ;)

    1. That's good to know that mine looks like yours did with your boxed cake mix, Kris!
      I figure having this for breakfast is no worse than having pumpkin or banana bread for breakfast. I think I did love myself more for allowing this for breakfast!

  4. I also have made some delicious cookies with a spice cake mix, 2 cups of pumpkin and chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. These are so simple and tasty. The chocolate chips could be left out - they could be frosted, but they are good on their own. I like to underbake them a tad because I don't like cookies on the dry side. So many possibilities!

    1. Those pumpkin cookies sound good, Ruthie! Thank you for the suggestion. I'll give them a try!

    2. Oh no, I'm not leaving out chocolate chips!! *Smile*

      Do you make these as a bar cookie or a drop cookie?

    3. I do a drop cookie - sooo good!

    4. actually - truth be told - I put more chocolate chips than called for :)


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