Red velvet cake probably comes in just behind vanilla and chocolate cakes in terms of popularity these days, so it should be no surprise to see that red velvet cake mixes are becoming much more common to allow people to easily bake their own at home. Regular cake mixes don’t usually catch my eye, but the last time I was in the baking aisle I couldn’t help but notice the new Pillsbury Supreme Collection Red Velvet Cake Mix, which had a tunnel of cream cheese filling baked right in to the middle of a red velvet bundt cake. It definitely didn’t look like your average cake mix from the picture on the box.
The mix reminded me of the Fun Da Middles cupcake mix from Betty Crocker I tried several months ago, which had a cream filling that was baked right inside of cupcakes. This kit included a red velvet cake mix and a cream cheese filling mix. The cake mix was a fairly standard cake mix that had a bright red color to it even before some liquids were added. The filling mix was dry and made with powdered cream cheese, which is what made it shelf-stable enough to be packaged with a cake mix, and you simply needed to add water and vegetable oil to it to rehydrate it and make it a little creamier. To put it together, you simply poured the prepared cake mix into your bundt pan and added the filling in a ring on top of the batter. The magic of getting the filling into the center of the cake happened in the oven.
Unfortunately, my filling didn’t quite end up in the center of my cake. I used a tube pan, which is usually a great substitute for a standard bundt pan and has the same baking times, and my filling sank all the way to the bottom of my cake during baking. It did, however, stay in the cake and I had no problem turning it out of the pan and keeping the filling in place – I just didn’t get quite the same dramatic look that was pictured on the box. I’m willing to admit that it might not have sunk quite as far if I had used a bundt pan, although the box gives many suggestions for alternative pans and my results with the tube pan do make me question how well the filling will center itself in any shape pan.
The cake itself was pretty good. A red velvet cake is a buttermilk cake with a hint of cocoa flavor and a deep red color to it (thanks to the help of some food coloring, in most cases). The finished cake did have a slight tang of buttermilk or sour cream and a distinct chocolate note, so it definitely fit the flavor profile of red velvet cake. The filling had a good cream cheese flavor and a nice sweetness that suited the cake well, but was a touch grainy and never became as smooth as a filling or frosting made from fresh cream cheese would be. The slight graininess didn’t bother me much and probably could have been eliminated if I had used slightly warm water when making the filling mix. Overall, the cake had a nice flavor and was both extremely moist and tender, so it could easily satisfy anyone looking for a quick red velvet fix when you don’t have the time or inclination to bake one from scratch – even if the filling doesn’t necessarily end up quite in the exact center of the cake.