Archive for: cake mix
In addition to the cake mixes you can buy at the grocery store and the ones available at higher end gourmet stores, there are many mixes out there made by smaller producers that can give you great results and make fun gifts. One example of this is the Vintage Bakeshop, which specializes in all natural baking mixes packaged in stylish, vintage-inspired wrapping.
I tried a mix for their Red Velvet Cupcakes to see if the cupcakes turned out to be as lovely as the packaging. As with most mixes, you simply add a few of your own eggs, oil, etc. to the mix and stir, then you’re ready to bake. The mix comes together easily and has a very intense color to it that carries over into the finished product. I should note that all of the mixes from the Vintage Bakeshop line are complete natural (i.e. sugar, flour, etc.) with no artificial preservatives or other ingredients – except for this red velvet mix, which contains artificial red coloring (red dye no. 40). I like red velvet cupcakes and am not bothered by a bit of food coloring, but I wanted to point out that their other mixes do not contain any for those who keep an eye out for certain dyes.
The finished cupcakes were very moist and tender. I could taste the hint of cocoa that was in the cupcakes, as well as a hint of vanilla, just as you should be able to do in a real red velvet cake. This made them feel a lot more homemade than many mixes. The best part about this mix is that the packaging is simply adorable. It is the kind of thing that makes a great addition to gift baskets for Mother’s Day or other holidays. The frosting recipes included with the mix (all scratch recipes) are nice, too, and it will always improve a cupcake to use homemade icing.
Frosting Creations are a new product from Duncan Hines that attempts to revolutionize canned frosting. Canned frostings typically come in basic flavors, such as chocolate and vanilla. With Frosting Creations, you get a can of plain frosting and can choose from a variety of flavorings to add to it to make flavors that are much more distinctive than those you’ll usually find in the baking aisle. There are a dozen flavors and they include Caramel, Cherry Vanilla and White Chocolate Raspberry, as well as over the top kid flavors, like Cotton Candy and Bubble Gum. The flavors are concentrated and come in a powder that you simply stir into the plain frosting.
I don’t typically use canned frosting, but I usually have one tucked away in the back of the pantry just in case, and I admit that I was very curious about how these new flavors would taste – especially some of the flavors that had a more “premium” sound to them.
The base frosting was your typical canned frosting, creamy and sweet but with little flavor. The flavor packets stirred in easily, with a little bit of vigorous stirring with a knife or spatula. I tried Orange Creme, Caramel and Bubble Gum. Orange Creme promised to be a creamsicle flavor and it did add a subtle orange flavor to the frosting. It was even better with a little bit of orange zest added to it, which popped the citrus more and let the frosting provide the vanilla. Bubble Gum looked and tasted like, well, bubble gum. It was not something I would eat again in all honesty – but I do know a few kids who loved it (especially on a chocolate cupcake) because they had never had anything like it before. My favorite was caramel, which did have a nice caramel flavor and tempered the sweetness of the plain frosting a bit. It’s still not going to replace homemade, but it was a lot more interesting than most canned frostings I’ve had and would be great on a yellow cake.
Overall, I think that this is a really fun concept and can deliver a lot more flavor options than you could find with off-the-shelf frostings. It’s fun to play with the flavors (especially if kids are involved) and couldn’t be easier.
And if you want to know a little secret, you can use these flavoring packets with homemade frostings (American buttercream made with butter, confectioners’ sugar and milk) for a very easy way to change the flavor of your frosting but start with a little bit tastier base.
Most cake recipes are going to bake up a full sized bundt, sheet or layer cake, which means that your options are limited when you want to have just one piece of cake to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you already have leftover cake sitting around, of course, you won’t have a problem. If don’t already have cake available, you may be tempted by a microwave cakes for one that you make in a mug for a single-serving of cake. I’ve made this type of cake before (and have seen similar ideas on many other blogs over the years), and it’s essentially a small, steamed cake that isn’t going to beat out a slice of devil’s food layer cake, but will certainly satisfy a craving. I recently picked up a box of Dr Oetker Caramel Mug Cake, a cake mix that promises to simplify this simple cake idea even more. I wanted to see how it stacked up to the homemade version.
The cake mix is poured into a mug and mixed with a small amount of milk before being microwaved for less than 90 seconds. The cake rises up to the top of the mug as it bakes, then falls slightly as it cools before it is ready to eat. Mine looked just like the cake on the box, although I suspect that I used a slightly larger mug than the “standard mug” recommended. It was very moist and very tender, more than I expected that a steamed cake would be. It also had a very pronounced caramel flavor, as though you had poured a generous amount of warm caramel sauce over it before serving. It is sweet, but very good for a cake that takes just over a minute to make!
I turned mine out of the mug and topped it with a little whipped cream to dress it up, but if you happen to give these a try (they’re sold at many specialty stores, as well as Cost Plus World Market, which is where I got mine) you can eat it right out of the mug with a spoon.
Filled cupcakes are probably my favorite kind of cupcake. Whether they’re Devil’s Food filled with vanilla cream, Red Velvet filled with cream cheese or Lemon Cupcakes filled with homemade lemon curd, I like them all because the filling adds more moisture and more flavor to a cupcake. I often make my own filled cupcakes, using an easy method where a small portion of the cake is cut out and replaced with filling. This method can be used with homemade cupcakes, store bought cupcakes or cake mix cupcakes. When I saw a product called FUN da-Middles from Betty Crocker on the cake mix aisle at my local market, I assumed that it was a cupcake mix that came with instructions for hollowing out and filling the cupcakes in much the same way I do. It turned out that these cake mixes included a filling that you add to the cake before baking, but still ends up forming a fluffy center.
I was intrigued and wanted to see if the Fun da-Middles actually worked, so I picked up a box of chocolate cupcakes with vanilla cream filling to give them a try.
The cake mix was a standard cake mix, with oil, eggs and water added to it, and was divided into muffin cups to fill them part way. The creamy filling came in a separate packet, and a blob a bit smaller than a tablespoon was squeezed into each of the muffin cups, then covered with the remaining cake batter. The cupcakes went into the oven and – to my surprised – came out with a soft, slightly gooey marshmallow center! The filling didn’t overcook, become too runny or migrate towards the edges of the cake.
I liked the marshmallow consistency of the filling in the finished cupcake. Before it was baked, it was a very thick but marshmallow-like paste. After baking, the consistency was like a soft marshmallow fluff. Marshmallows and marshmallow fluff typically don’t hold up well to baking, and will start to dissolve into the cake batter around them. The fact that these work makes me want to play with the concept some more at home. That said, the cake mix itself had very little flavor and the cupcakes were pretty bland overall, despite the creamy filling. The mix works and is worth picking up if you’re looking for a quick cake mix treat, but otherwise I’d still stick to homemade cupcakes with the homemade filling method.
Vosges is a high end chocolatier who is known for not just high quality chocolate, but the unusual flavor combinations that it it pairs with its chocolate. One of their specialties is a bacon chocolate bar, for instance, and their other exotic bars include ingredients like wasabi, gogi berries, chipotle chiles and more (although they also have plenty of bars that contain more familiar chocolate ingredients, as well). Vosges also has a line of gourmet baking mixes that I’ve seen here and there, but I was recently in a Vosges boutique and was able to pick up a box of their Love Goddess Chocolate Cake Mix to try.
Ever since I tried the excellent Ad Hoc cake mix a few months ago, I’ve been interested in trying more premium cake mixes to see what – if anything – they offer over homemade cakes. The Vosges mix runs $12 per box and includes all natural ingredients. In fact, the ingredient list is simply: organic sugar, all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. All of these ingredients come bagged separately, so working with the mix is a lot like having had someone do all your mise-en-place for you so you don’t need to measure anything. Otherwise, you add your own butter, eggs and vanilla to the mix and incorporate them in exactly the same way (including creaming the butter and sugar) as you would for a homemade cake. The instructions that come with the cake are very clear and easy to follow.