As designers and manufacturers of award winning cake decorating products, you may think that we are only interested in what goes on the outside of the cake, but you'd be wrong! We love baking in all its forms, especially cakes and we all have a different opinion about which flavour is the best: chocolate, carrot, fruit or traditional Victoria sponge cake.
Whether you're a professional baker or a hobby baker, we're sure you have an opinion on cakes made using packet mixes.Packet cake mixes first came about in the 1930s when an American company decided to make baking cakes easier for families; these packet mixes only had to have water added to them to make the cake batter, then you could just pop it in the oven. It wasn't until a few years later when companies did some research and found out that the American housewives of the time wanted the ease of a packet mix but the emotional connection and reward of making a cake from scratch. The addition of adding fresh eggs as well as water to the mix made the women using the packets feel like they had earned the cake at the end! (Information on the history of the packet cake mix found here)
Cake mixes have grown in popularity since then and recently there has been a debate about whether baking from scratch or packet mix cakes are better! (We're guessing that opinions on this subject will differ depending on where you live in the world.) We decided to test a few packet mixes to see if they are as good as cakes baked from scratch so we got Emma from our Marketing Team to test some out!
The 3 cake mixes I chose to test out were:
Thorntons Chocolate Cake
Betty Crocker Velvety Vanilla Cake
Asda Chosen by You Lemon Drizzle Cake
First up - the Thorntons Chocolate Cake.
Included in the box was, 1 packet of cake mix, 1 packet of frosting mix and 1 packet of chocolate chunks. All you had to do was add eggs, oil and cold milk and beat with an electric whisk.
The cake mix was lumpy when poured out of the packet, as if a little water had worked its way into the packet, and when I'd added the liquids and eggs I were worried it was going to be a bit too runny!
I baked it in the oven for the required time and then left it to cool down, while this was cooling I made the frosting. I melted the chocolate chunks in the packet by placing in very hot water and then added this to the mix of melted butter and frosting powder. It was amazing how this changed the consistency and look of the frosting - it made it look much more appealing!
As with all icing powder: IT GOT EVERYWHERE!
The cake was really quick and easy to make.
The cake texture was quite dry, especially when you got a piece without frosting.
The taste of the cake itself was not as chocolate-y as we were expecting (when we tried it in the office) from the appearance of the cake and not at all what we expected from a Thorntons chocolate cake (a British chocolate company for anyone who doesn't know)!
Next up was the Betty Crocker Velvety Vanilla Cake - this one was the the most expensive and from a well know brand of cake mix makers so I had high hopes! I also went all in and bought the Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting that was recommended on the packet, if you're going to make a cake from a packet, you might as well do it properly! :)
Included in the box was 1 cake mix packet which you had to add oil, water and eggs to, then mix with an electric whisk. This cake mix stood for 5 minutes while waiting for the first cake to come out of the oven and after that time you could see the air in the mixture - velvety was the right word to describe this!
The directions on the packet said to separate the mix into two tins and then layer but I baked all of the mixture together and then split and it worked. When the cake was cool I spread on jam and the vanilla buttercream icing, sandwiched the two halves together and sprinkled with icing sugar.
The smell of the batter as soon as you added the liquid to this mix, gloriously sweet and vanilla!
The appearance of the cake, even with the cracked top.
The texture of the cake, light and fluffy
More expensive than the other mixes.
Had to buy vanilla buttercream in addition to packet mix
It was quite difficult removing this cake from the baking tin
Last but not least the Asda Chosen by You Lemon Drizzle Cake
Included in the packet was 1 cake mix, 1 filling mix and 1 drizzle mix. You only have to add milk and eggs and mix with an electric whisk.
The lemon buttercream filling was a bit of a disaster, the 50g of butter on the instructions was too much for the amount of mixture from the packet. I decided not to use this on the final cake for this reason! The drizzle on top tasted really nice but when making it I had to veer from the instructions slightly! This mix called for 1 tbsp of boiling water to be added to the mix but I ended up adding a lot more than that to make the mix pourable!
Smell of the batter again! Very lemony, it made me very hungry!
By far the easiest to get out of the cake tin, which surprised me as the lemon cake felt sticky to touch!
Light and Springy texture
Icing dripped off the cake quite a bit
Flavour wasn't as lemon tasting as we were expecting (although it was still really nice!)
Your opinion on Packet Cakes might depend on how good at making cakes from scratch you are. If you're a professional baker and cake decorator I understand why you might not want to use packet cakes for a final design or commission, but would you ever use them for practise or for a personal bake? As a hobby baker who enjoys making a cake from scratch, I was pleasantly surprised by all of these packet mixes!
I also think a Vanilla cake could be the perfect base for extravagant cake decoration, especially for a hobby baker! If you're going to spend a lot of time decorating the outside of the cake, maybe you would like the cake itself to be quick and easy? This would probably be what I would do if I had a time constraint - I made all of these cakes in approximately 2 hours!
Everyone who tried the cakes preferred a different one so I think the general consensus at Katy Sue HQ is if you're going to bring 3 cakes in to the office, packet mixes will be just as appreciated as cakes baked from scratch!! These definitely went down a storm!
What's your opinion on Packet Cake Mixes? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
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Labels: baking, betty crocker, cakes, chocolate, packet cake mix, thorntons