This cookbook has a copyright of 1999. I don't know where I got this cookbook. I have cooked from this book before.
I bought this book shortly after it came out for one reason. The Dump Cake recipe. Now, it's a pretty simple recipe so you really don't need a cookbook for it, but someone had brought a dump cake to a work function years before this cookbook came out and I'd been looking for the recipe for years. I'm not sure but if memory serves me, I saw the author of this cookbook on some show (heck it might have even been QVC) where they made the Dump Cake, thus this book became part of my collection. I know that beside the Dump Cake, I've also made the Chocolate Kahlua Cake. I might have actually made more cakes from this book but I can't remember.
There are only two reasons to buy this cookbook. You aren't afraid of boxed cake mixes (if you don't like the taste of boxed cake mixes, you won't like the taste of any of these "doctored" recipes) and you must follow it's one golden rule...if a box of pudding is required in the recipe, you must use a boxed cake mix that does not already contain pudding in it's ingredients (I belive at this point only one major cake mix company doesn't already have pudding in the mix and that's Duncan Hines).
The best part of this cookbook is that there is a little photo of every cake. And by little I mean that the first eight pages have 2x2 small color photos of each of the recipes. Now mind you, a lot of the cakes look similar (the only real difference between the photos of the Fresh Orange Cake, Susan's Lemon Cake, and the Favorite Apricot Nectar Cake is how the glaze is drizzled on top) but I applaud that there is a photo for each one and when you are sitting perusing the cookbook, you have an immediate idea of what all the cakes may look like. Makes it much easier to grab the book and take a look and make a decision on what cake may catch your eye to bake. Each recipe does have a black and white version of the photo tucked into the recipe.
There are a few pages about doctoring cake mixes. The book contains a lengthy section on how to use the book (where you find out about not using cake mixes with added pudding...I think this is actually an import section to read if you want the recipes to work). This section also talks about ingredients, equipment, storing, oven temp etc. At the back there is a section/chapter on basic cake mixes (Basic Chocolate, Basic Sour Cream Yellow...simple recipes you can add your own twists to). There is a section on cake mix history and even a cake mix time line (It was 1966 when the Tunnel of Fudge Cake came out). Chapters include Chocolate Cakes; Cakes with Fruit; Strike It Rich Cakes; Cake-Mix Classics; Special Occasion Cakes, Cheesecakes and Gooey Cakes; Coffee Cakes; Cakes with Spirit; Incredible Bars and Comforting Cookies; This Can't Contain Cake Mix; Lighter Cakes; and then a chapter on Frostings, Glazes and One Compote. The book contains a conversion table and a bibliography.
Each recipe has a "the Cake Doctor says" part that gives tips, tricks and substitutions for the recipe (for instance on the Holy Cow Cake recipe the Cake Doctor tells you to use a German Chocolate Cake mix instead of a Devils Food Cake mix for a less intense chocolate flavor and that you can use crushed Heath Bars instead of Butterfinger Bars). There are tip boxes scattered throughout the recipes with information about ingredients, equipment or information like how not to over bake a cheesecake. The recipes seem pretty detailed and easy to follow. I like the way that most recipes will say "1 pkg yellow cake mix" and then let you know that means 18.25 ounces or that 1/2 cup fresh lime juice is from 3 to 5 limes. Takes the guesswork out of the recipes. Also helps since many ingredients these days have changed weight or volume in packaging since the book was first written.
I know purists will gripe about the fact that it takes less time to bake a cake from scratch (and if you are an accomplished baker you probably already doctor your from scratch cakes) than to use a mix*. But if you have someone who is a bit leary about baking and wouldn't think twice about using a cake mix to make a cake, this is a great cookbook. I've had great luck with the cakes I've made from The Cake Mix Doctor, but then I always followed the rules. Just remember if you don't like strawberry cake mixes in general, adding something to it probably won't make you suddenly adore it.
The two cakes I remember making from this book turned out great for me. For many years the Dump Cake recipe was my "go to" recipe to bring to pot lucks or any function where I was required to bring a dish. The Chocolate Kahlua Cake was wonderful. I'd pretty much try any of the recipes in The Cake Mix Doctor book...most of the recipes I've bookmarked though, seem to have an interesting name more than anything else! Recipes I'd like to try: Old-Fashioned Cola Cake; Banana Cake with Caramel Frosting; Fresh Orange Cake; Upside-Down Bananas Foster Cake; Snickerdoodle Cake; Almond Cream Cheese Pound Cake; Pecan Pie Cake; Fiddler On The Roof Cake; Incredible Melted Ice Cream Cake; Five Flavor Cake; Orange Dreamsicle Cake; Earthquake Cake; Hornet's Nest Cake; Holy Cow Cake; Ambrosia Cake; Toffee Crunch Cheesecake; Sock-It-To-Me Cake; Honey Bun Cake; Harvey Wallbanger Cake; Double-Chocolate Rum Cake; Orange Rum Zum Cake; Chocolate Mocha Chewies; Cookie Pops; Sour Cream Pear Buckle; Punchbowl Cake; and Fresh Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.
As an FYI, the author, Anne Byrn, has several books out on this theme (baking with cake mixes). One with cupcakes, a book that only uses chocolate cake mixes, even one that's gluten free.
*These bakers that say it takes less time to bake a cake from scratch must also be those folks that can cook meals in the 30 minutes or less stated in some cookbooks. I for one, am not one of those folks.