I love baking cakes. Normally, I use a scratch recipe that I’ve modified to use healthier ingredients – coconut cake being a favorite! But occasionally I have to whip up a batch of cupcakes or sheet cake for an event and I just don’t have the extra time I need to put together a scratch cake. Common cake mixes from Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines are cheap and readily available at any store or 7-11, but they often contain bleached and enriched flour, preservatives and artificial dyes that I work to avoid these days. I’ve tested two healthy cake mixes, European Gourmet Bakery and Madhava, both of which use organic chocolate, and posted the results below.
At my local Sprouts market, they carry two types of organic mixes: European Gourmet Bakery Organics and Madhava MMM…Super Yummy Cake Mix. I decided to try these head-to-head to see which mix created the superior cake.
The European Gourmet mix contains the following ingredients: Organic cane sugar, organic wheat flour, organic cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, sea salt, organic gum blend (organic guar and locust bean gums). Contains: Wheat.
The Madhava brand contains: Madhava Sweetener Blend (organic cane sugar, organic coconut sugar), organic wheat flour, organic cocoa powder, Ancient Grains Flour (organic farro, organic spelt, organic KAMUT®), baking powder (monocalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch), organic vanilla, salt, organic natural flavor.
I prepared each mix according to the directions. The European Gourmet called for 2/3 cup water, 2/3 cup oil and 2 eggs; Madhava called for 1 cup of water or milk, 1/2 cup oil and 3 eggs. I could begin to visualize some of the differences between the two cakes by looking at the 3 versus 2 eggs – the Madhava cake could be a bit tougher than I usually like.
Baking instructions varied quite a bit as well. The European Gourmet cake, baked in 8″ or 9″ pans, called for just 18 minutes at 350. The Madhava cake called for 30 minutes at 325.
The batters were quite different after mixing. The European Gourmet cake was much more dense and not as smooth as the madhava cake, but the aroma of chocolate was much stronger. The color of the European Gourmet cake was much darker – like a chocolate fudge cake, whereas the madhava cake batter was a milk chocolate color. Again, clues as to what the final product was going to be like.
After baking and cooling, both cakes were removed from the pans. Here was the result:
As you can see, the European Gourmet cake fell in the middle just a bit probably due to the smaller amount of liquid. In the future I would probably add 1/4 cup of unbleached flour and increase the liquid to 1 cup. It’s much darker and more dense than the madhava cake. I actually removed the madhava cake about 4 minutes early (26 minutes bake time, total). It came out with a fine sugar glaze across the top which looks attractive.
But the proof is in the tasting, and that’s where the European Gourmet cake truly shines. The aroma of chocolate fudge completely filled the kitchen while baking, and the taste did not disappoint. The cake was moist and aromatic, with a strong, dense crumb, but a surprisingly light texture. This cake was very much like a scratch cake that I would make myself (except for the depression in the center, probably caused by my high altitude in Denver).
The Madhava cake was very light on chocolate flavor, and the texture was just a bit tougher. The crumb is very fine, but almost gummy. This cake screams “CAKE MIX!”
Overall, I would choose the European Gourmet the next time I need a chocolate cake mix. I would back off on the mixing time – perhaps just folding in the dry ingredients until moistened to avoid the depression. But no one would be disappointed with this cake mix – a clear winner!
Check out some of my other reviews – here’s one on Betty Crocker’s line of gluten-free mixes.
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