Cake mixes are convenient, to be sure, but no matter how convenient they are, it’s not worth using one if it’s not going to taste good. The Ad Hoc cake mix I tried recently is very tasty, but at $14 per box, it is priced way above a regular grocery store cake mix. How do those mixes stack up? Good Housekeeping put a few more widely available yellow cake mixes to the text in a recent issue (April 2010) to see.
They tested a total of 11 brands, but ended up only rating their top three finishers. The winner was King Arthur Flour’s Golden Vanilla Cake Mix. This mix was described as not-too-sweet with a homemade flavor, but some tasters noted that it was “a tad dry and ‘a little gritty.'” The runners up were Betty Crocker SuperMoist Golden Vanilla Cake Mix, which had a light, fluffy texture and a well-balanced, buttery flavor, although it was knocked down slightly for having a slightly artificial vanilla flavor to it. Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden Premium Cake Mix was close behind, also with a light and moist texture. The buttery flavor of this cake tasted artificial and “buttered-popcorn-like” which did not earn high marks with the tasters.
So, all had their drawbacks, but had enough high points (light, fluffy textures) to make they worth it in a pinch, especially when they all came in under $5 per box. I have to guess from the descriptions of the “winning” cakes that the Ad Hoc mix was better than all of these, as I had no reservations about the flavor or texture of the cake, but since I still do have reservations about its price, I’m not sure that I would put it in my pantry as a backup before any of these.