The Easy Tricks For Making Multiple Cakes Out Of One Base Batter

Cake recipes tend to require serious attention to detail to make sure that they come out right. Unlike other recipes, which can have a little of this and a dash of that, bakers develop theirs to be precise so that the texture of the cake sets up properly and that it rises the way it should. That's not to say there's no room for experimentation, however. As long as you start with a solid vanilla cake recipe that you know works every time, you can play around with new flavorings to make very different cakes, all without fundamentally changing the original base.

Consider a vanilla cake recipe to be a blank slate. Almost every cake recipe has a dash of vanilla in it, after all, so if you think about it a lot of flavored cakes are just doctored-up vanilla cakes. With just one basic recipe and a little bit of imagination, you can make quite a few distinct cake varieties with easy ingredient additions.

Add single flavors to a basic vanilla cake

There are a lot of tasty recipes out there for vanilla cake, but first look for one with simple components: flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk or buttermilk, salt, baking powder, and vanilla extract. Before you experiment with flavor variations, it's a good idea to bake a plain cake or two following the original recipe. That way, you can see how the crumb and flavor of the cake should turn out. From there, you can easily make changes just by adding a single ingredient to the recipe. 

As long as you're not altering the moisture level or the volume of the ingredients in your cake too drastically, there are a lot of ingredients you can add to a vanilla cake. For instance, funfetti cake is a vanilla cake with rainbow sprinkles added to the batter. If you'd prefer a chocolate cake, add unsweetened cocoa powder, though be aware that low-fat cocoa powder can dry out your cake

You can also supplement your vanilla extract with a small amount of liquid extract, like almond, maple, or anything with citrus. A peanut butter cake is also easy to make with a few tablespoons of dried peanut butter powder added to the base recipe.

Use extra ingredients for even more cake variations

For even more cakes, expand your horizons with extra ingredients. For example, if you want a little more chocolate flavor than cocoa powder can provide, add some melted bittersweet chocolate to the mix. To make a chocolate cake into a mocha cake, add a tablespoon or two of dried instant coffee

For a citrus-flavored cake, add some zest and a tablespoon or two of the juice from a lemon, lime, or orange. If you're making a lemon cake, try adding poppy seeds for a classic lemon-poppyseed combination. If you're in the mood for a strawberry cake, mix in strawberry extract and strawberry purée — or even easier, add a small box of dried strawberry Jell-O mix for more intense strawberry flavor, then garnish the cake with fresh sliced berries

You can also use any kind of fruit jam or jelly to make a swirl cake. First, make your vanilla cake recipe and pour the batter into the pan. Then, heat the jelly or jam of your choice so that it's easy to spread and pour it on top of your cake. Next, pull some swirls across the top with a fork or toothpick, then bake.

Once you start experimenting successfully with flavors, you'll reach for that trusty vanilla cake recipe over and over again, and nobody will know that you're making the same cake twice.