Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake Box

Review: Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Devil’s Food Cake Mix

The search for the best gluten free cake mix continues.  The following is a review of the popular Betty Crocker gluten free recipes.  If you’re avoiding gluten, give these simple mixes a try.

Can a gluten free cake mix actually taste good?

Gluten – a true enemy to a small segment of people who suffer from celiac disease, and a major annoyance to more people who demonstrate a wheat intolerance.  Following a gluten free diet can be very difficult and disappointing.  Fortunately, the free market being what it is, there are hundreds of new products being introduced that advertise as “gluten free.”  Today, I’m testing Betty Crocker’s boxed version of the Gluten-Free Devil’s Food Cake.

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What is gluten, anyway?

Gluten is a water-insoluble protein that is formed when water is mixed with wheat flour.  Proteins are very large molecules composed of amino acids. Two of the naturally occurring proteins in flour are called glutenin and gliadin.

from the Cooking Science Guy.

Gluten forms in wet flours of wheat and certain other grains (barley, rye, triticale, bulgur, semolina, etc.)  The gluten forms a long, intricate, elastic network which suspends the starch in flour, giving bread that “stretchy” character, and allowing flour to be molded into shapes, such as in pasta.

Gluten strands under electron microscope
Gluten strands forming lattice in dough.

Gluten and cake are natural enemies, so it’s a pretty good bet that any gluten-free cake mix is going to have a nice, light texture.  And these Betty Crocker versions are no exception.

The Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Devil’s Food Cake Mix contains the following ingredients:

Sugar, Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Tapioca Starch, Leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), Salt, Guar Gum.  The box indicates it may contain soy, so those sensitive to soy should avoid this product.

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Purists will note that the baking powder in this mix uses a different acid from the usual cream of tartar.  Sodium acid pyrophosphate is manufactured by a chemical process, where cream of tartar is a byproduct of winemaking – another chemical process.  Is one more “natural” than the other?  You’ll have to decide that for yourself!

The yellow cake mix uses the more expensive xanthan gum as a gluten replacement, while this mix uses guar gum.  They’re pretty much interchangeable, but can give a slight change in texture.

The instructions call for 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of butter and 3 eggs.  The high-altitude directions call only for adjustments in bake time, which caused a bit of a problem as you will see.

I baked the cake in a single 8″ round anodized aluminum pan at 350° F (the mix makes only half the normal cake batter from a mix).  Because I couldn’t flour the pans as I normally would, I used a parchment round on the bottom.  The directions called for only the bottom to be greased, but I did have a little trouble releasing after baking, so I would recommend greasing or parchment for the sides as well.

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The directions called for 44-49 minutes, so I tested at 40.  It tested done at 43 minutes.  And here was the result:

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As you can see, the cake formed quite a high cracked dome, caused by rising too quickly in the oven.  If I’d had any rice flour on hand, I would have added 1/4 cup before baking and it would certainly have reduced this  by quite a bit.  Not a deal breaker (that’s what cake levelers are for, after all).

After cooling for about 10 minutes, I removed the cake from the pan and cooled completely.  The cake retained its high volume without sinking.  The color was a rich cocoa brown, without any additional artificial food colors – a big plus.

The taste and texture were very good.  I was expecting a bit of a gummy texture with the use of rice flour, but because of the potato and tapioca starch, I didn’t detect that at all.  The texture is light and airy, with fine crumb.  The taste is medium chocolate – almost identical to a typical Betty Crocker Devil’s Food mix.  I iced it later with a toasted walnut cream cheese icing and it was a huge hit.2014-08-07 11.54.18

If you’re looking for a gluten-free cake mix substitute, and you don’t mind fudging just a bit on the natural ingredients, this mix should do the trick!

Questions?  Comments?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below.

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