Baking a yellow or vanilla cake from mix versus scratch is something of a toss-up, right? If you have all the ingredients, it doesn’t really take much longer to scratch it. But yeah . . . you have to have the ingredients. And the baking powder can’t be 5 years old. And the flour is probably bleached. And the vanilla is probably two drops of dried vanillin from Target. Mmmmm. If you want a cake with organic sugar, organic wheat flour, and genuine organic vanilla flavor – give one of these mixes a try.
If you have trouble keeping ingredients on hand – give these mixes a try. I found them both to be really quite good . . . WITH ONE CRITICAL TWEAK ON THE Madhava cake (keep reading).
Conducting the Test
I warmed the oven to 350 for about 20 minutes, greased and floured two sets of pans – one 9″ round black and one 8″ round silver. One mix calls for a stick of butter, so I had that and the five eggs sitting out while I had my morning coffee.
I started with the European Gourmet vanilla cake. The ingredients are Organic Sugar, Organic Wheat Flour, Baking Soda, Cream of Tartar, Organic Vanilla Flavor, Sea Salt, Organic Gum Blend (Organic Guar and Locust Beam Gums). Contains Wheat.
The mix calls for 8 Tbsp of butter (melted and cooled). I just couldn’t bring myself to do that – melting and cooling butter breaks down the colloidal suspension that is so valuable in butter. I just softened it in the microwave for about 15 seconds until it gives just slightly. It also calls for 2 eggs and 3/4 cup of milk.
I followed the directions for the remaining ingredients and then separated the batter into pans – one half into the 9″ and one half into the 8″.
The cakes were baked at 350 for 18 minutes for the 8″ and another 2 minutes for the 9″
The cakes popped out easily. The cakes gave off a nice caramelized aroma, with a hint of corn meal (no corn in the ingredients, so that threw me a bit). The cakes were very moist and light with a medium delicate crumb.
The flavor was soft vanilla, but again a strong corn bread taste . . . not unpleasant, but surprising. The texture was firm with a nice carmelized crunch on the exterior. This cake would hold up to a firm icing quite easily.
I repeated the process with the Madhava Naturally Sweet MMM . . . Super Yummy Yellow Cake Mix. The ingredients are: Organic Wheat Flour, Madhava Sweetener Blend (organic cane sugar, organic coconut sugar), baking powder (monocalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch), Ancient Grains Flour (organic farro, organic spelt, organic KAMUT), organic natural flavor, organic vanilla, salt.)
The mix calls for 1 cup of water or milk (I used 1/2 water 1/2 milk), 1/2 cup oil and 3 eggs. The mix also calls for a 325 oven and baking for 30 minutes. I kept the temp at 350 and baked for just 22 minutes for the 9″ round and 8″ round both. (I had just tested the Madhava chocolate two days ago, and the original instructions I believe created a tougher, drier cake than a shorter bake time would have).
You can see the Madhava cake on the left – much finer texture on the top. A lighter, more delicate crumb inside. The aroma was vanilla with a fairly strong hint of lemon as well. Deliciously moist and flavorful cake.
Overall, I would give the nod to the Madhava Naturally Sweet MMM . . . Super Yummy Yellow Mix this time. The corn meal flavor of the European Gourmet was just too strong to ignore, while the Madhava cake was everything you want a yellow cake to be – light, fluffy, moist and flavorful. A clear winner!
Check out some of my other reviews and recipes. Here’s one for Betty Crocker’s line of gluten-free mixes.
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