Bundt cakes are saving my life right now.
I’m at the weird intersection of needing to bake regularly for my sanity, but also having little bandwidth for complicated recipes. My brain is frazzled and remembering to take butter out to soften (or eggs out to come to room temp) is suddenly somewhat beyond me. Further, I am doing a lot of what I call reactionary baking. Some piece of news or video clip will hit my inbox, and I have to immediately channel my frustration, despair, fear, or sadness into sweets. Which means I want recipes that only take as much time to throw together as it takes for my oven to preheat.
And Bundt cakes have become that thing.
Endlessly adaptable, these super-fast dump-style confections in the fluted pan that defines them as Bundt cakes mix up in a flash and taste delicious. I can glaze them if I am feeling fancy or leave them plain. Plus, Bundt cakes aren’t just for dessert: They work for tea and coffee breaks, and some fruit versions can even be breakfast. And slices of Bundt cake are easy to gift, so I can keep my friends and neighbors happy.
But here’s the real magic of my Bundt cake chapter: I’m making them from boxed cake and instant pudding mixes!
The world’s easiest Bundt cake hack
This hack relies on two inexpensive, easy-to-store, shelf-stable mixes—boxed cake and instant pudding—which form the base of an easy, ratio-style recipe. And let’s be clear: Just because you’re using mixes doesn’t make this cake any less homemade. It’s just easier! Once you have made a couple you’ll see how adaptable they are, so don’t hesitate to play around with adding different extracts, powders, or spices to make them your own.
I use Duncan Hines for my cake mix, and Jell-O for my instant pudding mixes, both of which are readily available at your local grocery stores or online. Duncan Hines has about 25 different flavors and styles of cake mix, and Jell-O has more than a dozen flavors of instant pudding mix, including some fun and unusual ones like pistachio and cheesecake. You can really choose your own adventure!
World’s easiest Bundt cake recipe
1 15.25 oz. box Duncan Hines cake mix, any flavor
1 3.4 oz. box Jell-O instant pudding mix, in the same or a complimentary flavor
4 large eggs
1 pint sour cream
½ cup neutral oil like canola
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces of a mix-in like chocolate chips or chopped fruit or nuts
1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour your Bundt pan.
2. Mix the cake mix, pudding mix, and salt in a large bowl (If you are using a chocolate cake mix as your base, you might also want to add a teaspoon of instant espresso powder.) In a smaller bowl mix the eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla until well blended.
3. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix till well combined. Cover and let rest at room temp for 20 minutes while your oven heats. Stir in your mix-ins and spoon into the pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes on a rack, then turn out of the pan and cool completely.
A note on mixes and this recipe: If you have other favorite mixes you want to use, that’s great! But the boxes need to be the same volume and the ingredients need to be the same as Duncan Hines and Jell-O for this recipe for it to work. Just compare labels at the store (or online), and if they’re the same, you should be good to go!
Glazes are optional on Bundt cakes; you are usually fine with nothing or even just a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. You can turn pre-made frostings into glazes by adding enough milk, cream, or buttermilk to thin them out to glaze consistency, and you can flavor plain vanilla canned frosting with extracts, flavor powders, or syrups if you like.
Want to make a homemade glaze? It’s easy!
Mix about 2 cups confectioners’ sugar with a pinch of salt, then stir in 1-2 tablespoons of any of these liquids: regular milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk, citrus juice, liquor, or a flavored syrup like maple or coffee. From here you can add additional extracts to flavor. Try and mix and match glaze flavors with your cake flavors, like a coffee glaze on a chocolate cake, a maple glaze on a spice cake, or a lemon glaze on a lemon cake.
Great mixes and glaze combos to try!
This recipe is so easy, it can be really fun to begin playing with options. Here are some of my favorite cake mix/pudding mix/mix-in/glaze combinations to get you going.
Chocolate cake mix, chocolate pudding mix, toffee bits, coffee glaze
Vanilla cake mix, pistachio pudding mix, slivered pistachios, rosewater glaze
Banana cake mix, banana pudding mix, walnuts, maple glaze
Strawberry cake mix, cheesecake pudding mix, chopped dried strawberries, vanilla glaze
Lemon cake mix, lemon pudding mix, white chocolate chips and poppy seeds, lemon glaze
Spice cake mix, butterscotch pudding mix, butterscotch chips, cinnamon glaze
White cake mix, white chocolate pudding mix, slivered almonds, almond glaze