Happy Birthday to the real Duncan Hines

To most folks, Duncan Hines is just a brand of cake mix owned by Pinnacle Foods, but the rights to the name was actually sold by the real Duncan Hines, born on March 26, 1880, to Hines-Parks Foods in the early 1950’s. In 1956, Hines-Park Foods merged with Procter and Gamble; shortly thereafter, the company marketed Duncan Hines cake mixes across the country and the rest, as they say, is cake mix history. Long before Duncan Hines’ name appeared on cake mixes, however, Hines worked as a traveling salesman. It was during those years that he started a journal listing the good places in which he ate and stayed that would ultimately be turned into the self-published “Adventures in Good Eating.” Businesses on Hines’ list could post sign saying “recommended by Duncan Hines” and over time Duncan Hines became a household name synonymous with quality and good taste – a distinction that lasts to this day when consumers choose a product that bears the Duncan Hines label. When used as foundation for a homemade cake, a Duncan Hines cake mix can eliminate some of the problems inherent in “from scratch” cakes, such as dryness, poor texture and lack of structure. There are some cake recipes that may actually be enhanced with the use of a mix and their relative ease of preparation and rate of success makes them good choices for occasions when everything must go exactly right and failure just isn’t an option. Whether you want to celebrate Duncan Hines’ birthday with a chocolate ganache-glazed Red Devil’s Food Cake or a mile-high Coconut Cream Cheese Cake, either of these cakes offer spectacular, foolproof results.


Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Red Devil's Food Cake

1 (18.25-ounce) box Red Velvet Cake Mix

1 small (3.4-ounce) box instant chocolate pudding*

2 tablespoons cocoa (natural or Dutch process)

1¼ cups buttermilk, room temperature

1/3 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for a dark pan). With an electric mixer set to low, mix the cake mix, pudding, cocoa, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl for one minute until combined. Raise speed to medium and beat for two minutes more. Pour into greased and floured 12-cup Bundt Pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Let cake rest in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. When cool, glaze with chocolate ganache. *Kitchen Ade Note: Bake this cake as a Red Velvet Cake by substituting instant white chocolate pudding for the chocolate pudding.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter unsalted butter

1 cup (6-ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring heavy cream and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Whisk to blend until smooth and well combined. Stir in vanilla. Allow to cool and thicken some, before pouring on cake. Makes enough ganache to glaze one (10-inch) Bundt cake.

Coconut Cream Cheese Cake

1 box (18.5-ounces) Duncan Hines Coconut Cake Mix

1 cup Swans Down cake flour (to measure, spoon flour into

a measuring cup, then level off with the back of a knife)

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, plus more for making glaze (recipe follows)

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 stick butter, softened

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

Coconut Frosting (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three (8-inch) baking pans;* set aside. Combine the cake mix and flour in a mixing bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup coconut milk with the eggs and extracts; set aside. Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer set to medium speed until well blended. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternately with milk mixture. Increase speed to medium and mix until blended well.


Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake layers for about 25 minutes, or until cake tests done. Let cake rest in pan 10 minutes before inverting onto wire rack to cool completely. When cool frost and garnish with Coconut Frosting. *Kitchen Ade Note: Cake may also be baked in a one-piece angel food cake pan (do not use a pan with a removable bottom) in a preheated 325-degree oven for 65 to 70 minutes, or until cake tests done.


Coconut Frosting

Makes enough frosting for a 3 layer, 8-inch cake

Recipe source: King Arthur Flour, www.kingarthurflour.com


1 (14-ounce can) unsweetened coconut milk

½ cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter

5½ cups (22 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, divided

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla or 3 to 4 drops strong coconut flavoring



1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded sweetened coconut


To make the frosting: Set a fine-mesh strainer or colander over a bowl and line it with a clean linen towel. Pour the coconut milk into the lined strainer and let the coconut water drain for up to 2 hours, until you have a thick lump of coconut cream. After the coconut milk has drained, cream the butter with 2 cups confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the salt and vanilla (or coconut extract) until the mixture is smooth. Add the coconut cream and mix, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting. Cover and hold at room temperature until ready to use. To garnish the cake: Sprinkle additional coconut over the sides and top of cake.