A New Take on Cake

Anne Byrn’s latest cookbook is “A New Take on Cake.”

One of the main reasons that people buy cake mixes is because they are inexpensive.

I mean you can sometimes get a box of cake mix for as little as 75 cents.

But the attractive low price is just one ingredient in “Cake Mix Doctor” Anne Byrn’s recipe for success with her cookbooks that kick cake mixes up a notch (or three) with add-ons and alterations that allow home bakers to create incredibly beautiful and delicious cakes.

In addition to being super affordable, boxed cake mixes have the beauty of being pretty much foolproof, easy to find and a snap to make.

Plus Byrn says the mixes provide a great foundation that is easy for home cooks to improve upon by adding ingredients, making homemade frosting and practicing other creative “doctoring” techniques.

Byrn, a native Nashvillian and current Nashville resident, had enormous success with “The Cake Mix Doctor” cookbook, which came out more than 20 years ago and has sold almost 2 million copies.

And now this week, she is launching an updated version called “A New Take on Cake: 175 Beautiful, Doable Cake Mix Recipes for Bundts, Layers, Slabs, Loaves, Cookies, and More!”

She calls it a “new book for a new time.”

“I just loved revisiting ‘The Cake Mix Doctor’ all these years later to do a little housekeeping and make sure all the classic favorite recipes work with the smaller mixes on the shelf today. And I enjoyed looking at this book with new eyes, introducing new pans and ingredients and less frosting,” she said, noting that the new book has recipes for gluten-free and vegan cakes, includes loaf cakes for smaller households and other new twists.

The book features 50 modernized classics, updated from the original book, and 125 brand-new recipes, such as a cake with Nutella-based icing, cake pops and assorted snack cakes.

“I tried to take everyone’s preferences into consideration and best of all photographed them to show how beautiful an easy cake can be.”

When you consider that some of her box-based cakes could be made for 10 or 15 cents per serving — instead of the $3-$6 per serving you might pay with a professional bakery cake — “Doctor” Byrn definitely has a winner on the affordability front.

She admits that “thrift is one reason people turn to cake mixes.” But that is just part of it. So look at the photos of some of these beautiful cakes for inspiration and then get out your baking pans and “turn a mix into a masterpiece,” like her white cake mix that she turns into a Pink Champagne Cake by adding some pink champagne and a few other tweaks, or a basic yellow cake mix that is transformed into the popular Susan’s Lemon Cake with the addition of gelatin, lemon zest and a creamy glaze.

Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on “Talk of the Town” on NewsChannel 5. Reach her at mscheap@mainstreetmediatn.com and follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/mscheap.

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