Cake in a Box?

May 29, 2008

I made a cake today . . . from a box, and let me tell you the end result was a real surprise.

Now, when I make a cake, I prefer for it to be from scratch, like Vignola’s Secret Chocolate Cake, which is one of my favorites.

So when I say I made a cake from a box, I want to explain to you how it happened, because I am confessing to you that never has a boxed cake appeared in my kitchen!

It all started when a neighbor invited me to a Memorial Day party and the theme was ‘American Food.” Without thinking, I offered to bring a cake. Then I went out of town and didn’t think about the cake until the morning of the party!

What to do? Brownies? No, too predictable. Carrot cake? Too time consuming. Pound cake? Too English. Angel food cake? Yes! I needed 12 egg whites for that, but my fridge was bare. So (gulp) I ran to the store and in the baking aisle I grabbed an angel food cake mix and hurried out of the store hoping that no one saw me.

I followed the package directions which said to just add water and don’t overmix. I decided to use a copper bowl to mix the batter. I turned on my hand mixer to medium speed and counted to 30 seconds. This can’t be right. when I make an angel food cake from scratch, it takes at least 8 minutes to get those whites looking like winter atop the Swiss Alps.

All the while I had forgotten to preheat the oven, so now I had to let the batter sit in the bowl until the oven came up to temp. I got out my angel food pan in which I have made many cakes from scratch. I felt guilty adding a “boxed mix” to it.

It took the oven about 10 minutes to preheat and when I went to transfer the batter to the pan, I noticed how fluffy and high the batter was. Hmmmm.

I got it all into the pan and baked it for exactly 30 minutes. When I checked, the cake had risen way over the top of the pan and had browned nicely on top. I took it out and turned it upside down propped over a bottle so it could cool and not deflate. (I do that with all my angel food cakes).

I left that cake there until it was room temperature. Then I un-molded it and it was high, the highest angel food cake I have ever made. It was 7 inches high because I measured it. That’s pretty high for angel food cake!

AngelfoodcakeNow the frosting. I opted for whipped cream, which I had on hand, and raspberries, which I also had. I whipped 2 cups of cream with 4 tablespoons of sugar and when it began to get thick I threw in a cup of raspberries and continued whipping. Nice flecks of raspberry and a pinkish color gave this cake a certain panache.

Once I had it covered in the whipped cream, I decorated the top with mint leaves and clusters of whole raspberries (see the photo to the right for the finished product). It looked like something from a pastry shop, no kidding! I was falling in love with a boxed cake! But how would it taste?

The party guests gave it two thumbs up. I felt good. Would I make it again? It would be un-American not to!

So what do you think about cake from a box? Too conventional, or under-appreciated gem?

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