How Doctored Up Chocolate Cake Mixes Are Making The World A Better Place – My Favorite Recipe

Doctored up chocolate cake recipeSome of you might think that since I decorate cakes, that I’m a magician in the kitchen.  Well, not exactly.  According to my husband, I am a good cook, but when it comes to baking from scratch, I need a lot of work.  That’s why I am going to tell you how doctored up chocolate cake mixes are making the world a better place…well, at least for me it is. 😉

What Does “Doctored Up” Mean?

Over the past few years I have tried my hand at making a “from scratch” cake or cupcakes and they always turned out dense and flavorless.  How I did this, I don’t know, but it really has not worked out for me to make my cakes this way.  So, I have always resorted to a box mix.  In my search to try and find a way to make a “from scratch” cake, I discovered an interesting concept.  Doctored up cake mix recipes.  This discovery has made my life so much happier and has almost entirely kept my trash can empty of failed cakes.

What is the concept of a “Doctored up” cake mix?  It is basically taking the foundation of a prepackaged cake mix and adding a few extra ingredients, besides what it calls for, and it makes that cake taste like a “from scratch” recipe.  Now, don’t get confused, these are NOT substitutions.  These are ADDED ingredients.  If you follow the recipe, your cake will turn out perfect.

Doctored Up Chocolate Cake Mix Recipe

One of my favorite go-to recipes for a chocolate cake, and I am only focusing on chocolate cake for this post, is one that I found at a great site called My Baking Addiction.   With a few extra ingredients, your cake or cupcakes (I usually make cupcakes with this recipe) will be light and moist but still firm enough to stack a few layers of cake.

Doctored up chocolate cake recipe

 (Pure Vanilla is a dark brown in color, but I had run out of vanilla when I needed to take this shot.  I thought it was important to put it in the picture anyway.)


1 (15.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix (see note below)

1 (3.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water (see note below)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and espresso water mixture. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined.

3. Distribute the batter between 24 muffin cups; about 3 tablespoons of batter each.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.

5. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, top with your favorite icing.

For Cakes

For 2 9-inch Cake Layers: Pour batter evenly between 2 greased 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Frost cooled cake with your favorite icing.

NOTES From Jamie Lothridge of

– Favorite Devil’s Food Cake is Betty Crocker – Pudding in the mix.
– If you don’t have instant espresso granules, you can sub in 1/2 cup warm coffee.
– The espresso in this recipe really just deepens the chocolate flavor, but if you aren’t into the whole coffee thing, just use 1/2 cup warm water.
-If you are using a different flavor of cake mix and pudding, simply omit the espresso granules and simply use 1/2 cup warm water.

Recipe from Jamie Lothridge of


What if I use a cake mix that already has pudding in the mix?  Do I add the box of pudding still?

This is a great question, and one that I had myself.  So I decided to test it out and the verdict is, YES, you still can.  It will not affect the cake in any way.  You can also leave it out, if there is pudding in the mix, and it shouldn’t affect the outcome either.

In a later post I will show you how I use this recipe to make my favorite chocolate pudding filled cupcakes using Rich’s Bettercream Icing.  I hope you enjoy!

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions regarding this recipe.  I would love to hear how this worked out for you or if you too have a special “doctored up” cake mix recipe or tips that you would like to share.

God Bless,

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  1. Ken says:

    I love chocolate cake. unfortunately I am not very good when it comes to baking. I do cook at times for the guys I work with at the fire department or around the home. After reading this I just might give baking a try.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Ken,

      This really is a simple recipe and I have always gotten rave reviews for it. Add a can of premade Cream Cheese frosting and you are golden. Unless you want to try your hand at a homemade frosting. If so, stop by again sometime for one of my favorite Buttercream frosting recipes that I will be posting soon.

      Good Luck! 🙂

  2. Marant says:

    Hi Amanda
    Here I am still trying to lose those holiday pounds and here you go writing yummy recipes for chocolate cake!
    Oooh but it sounds so good! Thanks for the great recipe!


    • Amanda says:

      LOL! I know what you mean, Marant. I am still trying to lose all my baby weight from 9 months ago and with having this site, I have to do a lot of testing with recipes. And of course you have to taste it once or twice…or three times to make sure it’s good, right? 😉 Not so good on the waist line but oh so yummy in my tummy. 🙂

  3. Ty Jord says:

    I’m a lover of baking as well and have had my run of failed attempts, funny this is the first time I’ve ever heard the term “doctored up”.

    Never tried it but worth looking into, with your advice I’ve sure I can work a little magic. Thanks for sharing this info, will be looking out for more.

    My best to you.

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks Ty. I figured that if I couldn’t bake from scratch, that I could do my best to make it SEEM like it was from scratch. But I have never claimed to be a BAKER, just a decorator, and the fact that I use boxed cakes have, thankfully, never bothered any of my customers.

  4. Kinya says:

    As someone who runs a chocolate website, I must fist bump you. We have a common interest. I’ll be checking this out regularly.

    As someone who makes things from scratch (and will never use a boxed recipe again), I have to admit, I don’t understand what you did wrong either. A lot of people have told me they can’t make things from scratch because they don’t turn out right. But hey, if you can make the boxes work, more power to you. As long as you and everyone who is eating it enjoys it, that’s all that matters.

    • Amanda says:

      Hey Kinya,

      I think my biggest problem with scratch recipes is the measuring. I didn’t learn until recently that I should have a food scale or just spoon the flour into the measuring cups. I think I have added WAY too much flour which has made it turn out too dense. I plan to try again and keep trying until I get it.

      I’ll be checking out your site too. I love doing stuff with chocolate.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  5. Toni says:

    Uh oh, now I’m in trouble. Why did I click on THIS link! I’m a chocoholic! ..and the temptation is just too much! Thanks to You – I have to try this recipe! …Love the espresso mix idea… oh yum!

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