A cake is a delicious dessert, but you don't always want to make an entire cake when you're craving just a little bit. The Bento cake, otherwise known as a Korean Lunchbox cake, is a mini individual version of the decadent dessert. These are individual mini cakes that can be enjoyed by 1 or 2 people and that are typically served in a clamshell, making it a perfect to go option. The best part? I'm sharing how to use a box mix to make these individual cakes!
You can make your cake multiple layers or just in one individual layer. To make a Bento cake, you'll need a 4-inch baking pan or, you can use cookie cutters if you're making multiple cakes. If doing that method you'll just bake the entire or half of the cake.
Just like royal icing sugar cookies, Bento cakes are perfect for birthday parties (try it for a smash cake!), showers, or as the cutest party favor and place setting. They're also great for dessert to go following a meal out with friends or family.
How to Make a Lunchbox Cake
- Spray your cake pan with a non-stick oil. Alternatively, you can use a dusting of flour. I always do this first because otherwise I'll forget and then have trouble getting the cake out.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare your cake batter. Add your cake mix and then your egg, vanilla and milk or water.
- Pour your cake mix into your cake pan.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, then check on your cake. Insert a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out of the cake and is clean, your cake is ready. If there's still batter on it, allow to cook for a few additional minutes at a time.
- Remove from over and allow to cool.
Baking Tips and Substitutions
- Baking time will vary a bit depending on your oven and the humidity where you live. Check in with your cake periodically and use a toothpick to determine when the baking is complete.
- The box mix calls for water and oil, you can substitute the water for milk for a more decadent cake.
- If you're baking the full cake you may consider adding an egg to enhance the flavor and give it more of a homemade taste.
- Use real vanilla extract in your icing or consider adding a teaspoon or so to your cake base. It really does making a difference and is importance. I typically have a heavy hand when adding my vanilla too.
Decorating your Bento Cake
- When you are ready to decorate your cake, remove it from the cake pan and place on a cardboard cake sheet. This makes it easier to move/transport.
- Take a serrated knife and level your cake by removing the rounded part that raised in the oven.
- You can use a jar of frosting, but I recommend whipping up a bit of buttercream frosting. It gives an extra homemade touch to a box mix cake, and is simple to pull together.
- You can create any message or design on your bento cake, whether it's 'Happy Birthday,' wedding rings, or just adding a simple shape or initials.
- If you're going to need multiple colors of frosting, separate your base frosting into multiple bowls depending on what colors you'll need. I recommend gel food coloring, it's really easy to work with and you can add just a little at a time. Plus a little goes a really long ways!
- I used this offset spatula to smooth my frosting on the cake, you can also use a table knife.
- Piping flowers or adding dots is an easy way to upgrade your cake design too. I used a bit of buttercream frosting with pink food coloring to pipe on a heart. If you're piping butter cream and don't have a piping bag you can use a small zip lock baggie and cut a small hole to use as a tip.
If it's a single serving of cake use a 4 inch cake pan. You can also use a 6 inch cake pan but that's best for serving 2 people.
You don't have to serve your mini cake in a clamshell, it started with bakeries preparing them this way for convenience. It is really cute though!
Other Things to Make With a Box Cake
- 1 stand mixer optional, you can use a hand mixer or stir by hand as well.
- 1 4-inch cake pan can use 6 inch cake pan or bake cake fully then cut with cookie cutters as an alternative.
- 1 serrated knife
- 1 offset spatula optional for frosting
- 1 set of measuring spoons
- 1 wooden spoon
- ⅔ cup box cake mix
- 1 single egg
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil you can use any preferred oil as an alternative.
- Preheat your oven to 350° F and grease your cake pan.
- Add ⅔ cup of box cake mix (this is ¼ of the mix) with your egg, water or milk and oil in a mixing bowl and combine.
- Pour mixture into greased cake pan.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350° F. Check on the cake periodically after 18 minutes as baking time will vary depending on your oven.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Transfer cake from baking pan to cooling rack, set on top of a cake circle to make it easier to move around.
- Decorate with buttercream frosting or other frosting.
- Package in a clamshell or store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.