Apologies for the hiatus--if you could see my sunburn you would understand.
My daughter and I made this Checkerboard Cake from the Betty Crocker Cake & Frosting Mix Cook [sic] Book a couple of weeks ago:
1) Use 8-inch round pans. We used 9" rounds as recommended, and the sections didn't come out square, but rectangular. You'd have to do three rings of batter to get squares, I think. I'm not sure why this is. Do cake mixes rise less today than they did in the 60s?
2) When you put the batter into the inner ring, hold the ring in place with one hand (or one of your helper's hands). Otherwise it will slide around in the pan and your circle will be off-center. I filled the inside circles first, as the recipe directs.
3) Hold back a little white batter in case you can't get the batter levels to match inside and outside of the circles. You can add a little more food coloring to your reserve batter if you need to, and even things out.
4) We used pink gel food coloring because I had some (who doesn't? Don't you?). But other colors would look just as cool (or strange, take your pick). I didn't use almond extract because I forgot it, and I'm not sure a two-flavored cake would really be the kind of surprise my family would appreciate. Checkerboard colors, OK. Almond flavoring, I might be trying to kill them.
5) I used butter frosting because I always do, because it was good enough for my mother and who really likes that marshmallowy stuff anyway?