Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cake Mix History

Today, we are going to explore 1950s Americana with the history of cake mix, and I will also share with you ways to "cheat" and make your cake mix taste very homemade.

In 1943, the Betty Crocker lab began to research ways to make it possible for homemakers to successfully bake cakes from prepackaged mixes. It took over four years, and the mixes were finally released in 1948, with the following varieties: white; yellow; spice. By 1949, a party would not have been a party without Betty Crocker!

The first cake mixes had egg powder in them, but the people at Betty Crocker realized that most homemakers preferred to add in their own ingredients, so the egg powder was removed, and the mixes called for fresh eggs instead. As the 1950s went on, boxed cake mixes continued to grow in popularity. Today, peruse through the shelves of any grocery store, and you will find cake mixes in an unimaginable number of flavors.

The wonderful thing about boxed mix is that if you follow the direction, your cake will always turn out a success.

So, how do I feel about boxed mixes? If you know me at all, you'd know that I love to cook from scratch. However, I do think that cake mixes can be great bases for you to customize and still have a homemade, made-from-scratch result. After all, you still added in the fresh ingredients, you still cared, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that your cake was baked from scratch.

The thing about boxed mixes (and canned frosting) is that they have that medicinal, preserved undertone that is pretty much the tell-tale sign that your cake was from a mix. So, how do we take care of that? There are several ways:
  • Bake your cake from a mix, but cover it with homemade frosting.
  • Or, if you don't want to use the frosting method, add the juice of half a lemon to your cake batter. The juice won't be enough to turn your cake into a lemon cake, but it will be enough to neutralize the medicinal scent and flavor.
  • To make canned frosting taste homemade, add the juice of half a lemon to that.
Tomorrow, I will share with you a cupcake recipe inspired by a boxed mix, complete with the shortcuts mentioned above!


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