Home Cooking: Three Easy Cakes for the Holidays

photo credit: thehungrybluebird.com

Ninety-eight percent of the time I am a scratch baker when it comes to cakes. Hummingbird cake, Texas sheet cake, red velvet cake, carrot cake and others I make from scratch. The other two percent of the time I am quite happy to break out a boxed cake mix and use it as a base. I typically always keep a box of yellow cake mix and either devil’s food or chocolate fudge cake mix on hand, but will pick up other flavors now and then if they are on sale.

All three of the following cake recipes start with a box of cake mix, two also require a box of instant pudding, and all are baked in a Bundt pan. They’re all very moist cakes, and are great for family celebrations, holiday parties, and for gifts, and of course throughout the year whenever you want to make a delicious cake that doesn’t take a lot of effort.

My family’s favorite chocolate cake, bar none, is the Triple Chocolate Cake. This dark, fudge-y cake has become our favorite celebration cake, but I don’t need a special occasion or holiday to bake one. The original recipe called for a German chocolate cake mix, but I made a happy discovery one day when I substituted devil’s food instead. The result was an unbelievably rich, moist cake full of chocolate flavor. The cake is traditionally dusted with powdered sugar, but a nice, dark chocolate glaze drizzled over the top (and some pretty holiday sprinkles) can make for a very nice dessert as well. Some of Meiling’s friends are receiving this cake as a gift this year!

The orange cake is great when I want an easy cake in a hurry (lemon juice can be substituted for orange juice for a lemon variation). The orange flavor is prominent, and yet delicate at the same time. I first made the Bacardi Rum cake many, many years ago when Bacardi published the recipe in an ad, then lost it for several years (along with all my other cookbooks) when we moved back to the States from Japan in 1992, but rediscovered it online with the advent of the Internet. I don’t particularly care for rum, but I do love rum cake. It’s definitely the most very special occasion cake of the three.

photo credit: premeditatedleftovers.com


  • 1 package German chocolate (or devil’s food) cake mix
  • 1 3.8 oz. package of instant chocolate pudding
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 ounce package of chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Blend all ingredients except chocolate chips. Beat for 5 minutes on medium speed, then fold in chips by hand. Pour batter into a well-greased bundt pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in bundt pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto serving plate. Dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar before serving.

photo credit: chewoutloud.com


  • 1 yellow cake mix with pudding
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°. Blend together the ingredients for 1 minute on low speed, scrape down the bowl and mix for an additional 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into well-greased bundt pan, and bake for 45 – 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto cake plate. Cake glaze can be made from 1 cup sifted powdered sugar blended with 3 TBSP orange juice and 1 tsp fresh grated orange peel. Pour glaze over cooled cake and let set a few minutes before slicing.

photo credit: thespruceeats.com



  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 package plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 3.8 oz package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs


  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Bacardi dark rum

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a bundt pan and sprinkle chopped nuts in the bottom of the pan. Blend the remaining cake ingredients on low for 1 minutes; scrape the bowl and mix another 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto cake plate or platter.

To make glaze, melt the butter over low heat; add water and sugar. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook until thickened, about 4 – 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Spoon glaze over warm cake, but cool completely before serving.


2 thoughts on “Home Cooking: Three Easy Cakes for the Holidays

  1. That Bacardi cake is the bomb. I have a friend who makes them every year for gifts and he even made several of them as the groom’s cake for his son’s wedding. I enjoy reading your blog and your recipes too. Merry Christmas!


    1. Oh, I agree. We weren’t sure YaYu would like it because of the rum flavor, but she is loving it. It’s a terrific gift cake, and I love the idea of making it for the groom’s cake!

      Merry Christmas to you and yours!


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