I am suspicious about a fair amount of the cake mixes that are out on the market, mostly because I don’t understand the motivation for purchasing them.
It can’t be a cost savings of any sort, because on an ounce by ounce basis, it’s cheaper to make your own cake by buying flour, sugar and a leavening agent.
And I don’t buy the “convenience factor”, because how much time is truly saved by having someone else do the measuring for me? One minute? Two at the most? Is saving two minutes really worth the the two extra dollars spent on ingredients? If it’s because there’s a reliability in their cake mixes that I can’t get myself, it’s because I haven’t mastered the first rule of baking cakes – measure the flour and sugar by weight rather than volume (even if I don’t practice what I preach).
Additionally, I don’t purchase cake mixes because I then start buying into the entire corporate food perspective on ingredients.
Take Betty Crocker’s take on Carrot Cake. It’s a strange, bizarre recipe where it’s a selling point to have “carrot flavored pieces” in a carrot cake, but no actual carrots.
The ingredient list of the carrot flavored pieces?
- Corn Syrup
- Enriched Flour (Bleached)
- Corn Cereal
- Partially Hydrogenated Cottenseed and/or soybean oil
- carrot powder
- artificial coloring
So when they say “Carrot Flavored pieces” what they actually mean is “Carrot-flavored corn nubbins”. Of course it would be nigh impossible to sell “Carrot-flavored corn nubbin cake”, which is why they take credit for carrots by literally adding carrot powder to the mix.
But in the real world, carrot powder is no more equal to a carrot than garlic powder equates to garlic. No amount of debate will convince me otherwise.