Doctoring Up Baking Mixes

Whip up your own homemade low PointsPlus™ value muffins, cookies and cakes. It's quick and almost foolproof when you start with a prepackaged mix.
Doctoring Up Baking Mixes

"Going to a boxed mix offers you some wonderful options," says food writer Bev Bennett, author of Cooking Out of the Box (Prima Publishing, 2002). You get a great product, with less mess and in half the time. Plus, you save time on shopping and there's the added benefit of not having tempting foods in the house. After all, an unmade box of chocolate chip cookie mix does not have the same power and allure as a bag of milk chocolate chips.

Ready, set, mix
So where do you begin? The good news is, you don't have to do much. According to Bennett, the food companies have put in a lot of effort to make mixes nearly foolproof, so a little goes a long way.

Try giving a mix a new form by using a muffin mix for a cake batter as in Bennett's Apple Breakfast Cake. Or, think of a handful of additions that will enhance the mix's flavors.

Main Ingredient: Yellow Cake Mix
Main Ingredient: Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie Mix
Main Ingredient: Bran Muffin Mix
Main Ingredient: Brownie Mix
Main Ingredient: Angel Food Cake Mix

Main Ingredient: Yellow Cake Mix

  • Prepare batter in a low-fat manner according to package directions.

  • For a lemony kick, add grated lemon rind to taste and 1/4 cup of lemon juice to replace an equal amount of liquid in the recipe. Then, bake as directed.

  • Or, take it one step further and add poppy seeds along with the lemon rind and juice for a lemon-poppy seed cake.

  • If you prefer something a little sweeter, use grated orange rind and orange juice instead (enough to replace an equal amount of liquid in the recipe) and then add a touch of almond extract and slivered almonds for an orange-almond cake.

Main Ingredient: Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie Mix

  • Prepare dough in a low-fat manner according to package directions.

  • Increase the fiber by adding 1 cup of low-fat granola or dried fruit bits. Bake as directed.

Main Ingredient: Bran Muffin Mix

  • Prepare mix in a low-fat manner according to package directions.

  • Add 1 cup of chopped apples and pour into a 9-inch square, nonstick baking pan.

  • Follow baking directions on muffin mix package. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick near the center of the cake; when it comes out clean, your apple-bran coffee cake is ready to eat.

Main Ingredient: Brownie Mix

  • Prepare mix in a low-fat manner according to package directions; pour into pan as directed.

  • Beat together 8 ounces of low-fat cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract until fluffy; beat in 1 egg.

  • Drop dollops of cream cheese mixture onto the brownie mix; swirl with a knife for a "marbled" effect. Bake as directed.

Main Ingredient: Angel Food Cake Mix

  • Bake according to package directions (make sure to use a regular circular pan and not a bundt pan).

  • Hollow out a cavity in the cake from the top, making sure to go only halfway through the layer. Fill the cavity with raspberries and top them with low-fat whipped topping that's been flavored with grated lemon rind.

  • Or, slice a baked angel food cake in half so you form two same-sized circles. Hollow out one circle almost through—but not completely—to the other side. Fill with some prepared fat-free lemon pudding and top with the other cake half. Mix the remaining pudding with low-fat whipped topping and spread over the cake.

Recipe: Apple Breakfast Cake*

1 box (17.4 ounces) bran muffin mix
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup light whipped butter
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 apple, peeled and finely diced (Macintosh or Rome Beauty recommended)
cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Place muffin mix in a large bowl. Add any flavoring mixes that come with the product (some packages have added raisins or apples).

  3. In a small bowl, beat together egg, butter and milk; add to muffin mix. Stir in apple. (Do not beat.)

  4. Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Spoon batter into pan and bake for 45 minutes or until cake is completely done in the center. Remove from oven, cut into 12 pieces and serve.

Number of servings: 12
PointsPlus value per serving: 4

*The original form of this recipe is published in Bennett's Cooking Out of the Box. She lightened it up for us to achieve a lower PointsPlus value.

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