Playing with Cake Mixes: Pistachio Pudding Cake

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that you can try new flours by playing with baking mixes and today I want to give you a prime example of that. I used a simple boxed cake mix and a few tweaks to make an easy-but-fabulous cake for my mother-in-law’s birthday.

For just the recipe click here.

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One of the first stories I heard when my husband and I got engaged was about my mother-in-law’s birthday cakes growing up. I’d mentioned that I’m not a huge fan of pistachio ice cream, (which both she and my husband are) and she proceeded to tell me about how every year on her birthday as a girl she got “Pistachio Pudding Cake” because it was tasty, different, and green to coincide with the nearby holiday of Saint Patrick’s Day. Her sisters always groaned and teased her about it, but she loved her pistachio cake.

Fast forward several years. Once Ben and I got married I started cooking regularly (thank you gorgeous kitchen) and trying to make things on the “things we miss” list from my new family. And again, Pistachio Cake made a timid appearance. She hadn’t had it in years and being the polite and sweet woman she is she didn’t want to impose. But I love a challenge. I haven’t made a full cake in years and it’s a flavor I’d never tried.

When her birthday came along I offered to make dessert and here we are. Pistachio Pudding Cake. I found a few recipes online for reference, and even one gluten-free one, but this is my spin. It is just enough moist/crumbly with a light powdered sugar dusting. It needs no frills or frosting. Let the green spring cake speak for itself.

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What you need:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix. I used: Pillsbury Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix ($2.98)
  • 1 box Jello Pistachio Pudding ($0.99)
  • 4 Eggs (12 for $0.99)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (bottle for $1.25)
  • 1/4 oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Powdered sugar to taste
  • Green food coloring (optional)

Overall it’s a very inexpensive cake. And very worth it. If you keep oil and powdered sugar on hand (like I do) then the cake-specific purchases are small. But if you aren’t the kind to keep those in your pantry then it adds up to about $12 for a cake that serves about 14 slices.

A pre-made gluten free cake will cost anywhere from $25-$60. And you can’t say you made it yourself. So really this is a winning situation.

What to do:

At the most basic level, you blend everything together and then bake it at 350° for about 55 minutes.

However, there are a few ways to break that down.

Step-by-step:

Combine the cake mix and the pudding mix together and blend well. Make sure they look like one powder. This is best with a wisk or a stand mixer with a wisk attachment.

Add the oil, water, and almond extract.

Add the eggs, one by one, either blending after each or letting your mixer run on low and blend them in while you add.

Pour mix into a greased bundt pan. I use Pam butter spray so it doesn’t taint the flavor of my foods.

Why a Bundt Pan? Bundt pans have a raised center in them, creating a ring cake. This means that the middle of your cake won’t be under cooked. With a liquidy batter like this one, It’s important to make sure heat distributes evenly and the whole cake cooks. Not just the edges.

Bake until the cake “springs back” when touched. This just means that if you poke it gently it doesn’t keep an impression of your finger.

The next step is flipping it. This is why you greased the bundt pan. I recommend letting it cool a small bit (20-40 minutes) before attempting. Then put a plate over the pan, and flip the whole concoction onto the table.

I have a silicone pan, for a few reasons:

  1. It is non-porous, so it doesn’t ever absorb anything I cook, won’t scratch, and stays super Celiac safe.
  2. It is maleable once it cools. So with a bundt pan, I can go around the edges gently peeling the pan away so that my cake doesn’t break.
  3. Two words: Dishwasher. Safe.

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It will be a gold-tan color everywhere but the very middle. That’s ok. Some of the green showing is a fun sneak peek!

I took a mesh strainer and gently sprinkled my cake with powdered sugar. The flavor doesn’t need any additions. You could make an icing if you really wanted, but I prefer the simple life.

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Mother and Sister-In-Law, posing for the obligatory birthday picture.

It was a hit with the in-laws! And I look forward to future birthday experiments. I hope you can impress your gluten-free loved ones with this unique cake too!

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3 thoughts on “Playing with Cake Mixes: Pistachio Pudding Cake

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