Review: Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix

Kevin brought Ruby in to town this afternoon and dropped her off at my office so we could switch cars. I had to stop at the grocery store for some…erm…girlie stuff…so I brought Ruby with me. The entire way she talked to me about having a “crazy birthday party.”

For who?

“For all of us!”

Nice! Cause three birthdays in December aren’t enough…why not a big old group crazy party in January? I was all for it.

Plus it was a great chance to try a product that I keep seeing, but haven’t bought. Betty Crocker’s Gluten-free Yellow Cake Mix.

It’s big news, I think, that a company as huge and all encompassing as General Mills has taken notice of the gluten-free needs of some consumers. I think that if their first four products (yellow cake, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies) do well, then they’ll add more.

The cons for this mix, like any gluten-free mix, is that it’s pricey. And since I’m in a rural town with pricey groceries anyway, it’s even more expensive. I paid $4.89 for a box of cake mix that filled one 9″ round cake pan. Most cake mixes will make a two layer cake, or 24 cupcakes (this mix makes 12.) In a way I’m glad that they made the mix for a smaller cake rather than charge even more.

There was something very comforting in buying a product I’ve eaten since I was a child. I liked that they didn’t go nuts with the box. It just looks like Betty Crocker cake–only gluten free.

The great thing about gluten-free baking is that it’s really not hard. You don’t have to worry about over mixing. I just used a fork, even though the box called for a mixer. It came out perfectly, the batter was smooth and creamy.

On top of paying nearly $5 for the box, I had to add three eggs, two teaspoons of gluten-free vanilla, and a whole stick of butter. That seems like a lot, right? And I was afraid to substitute for the butter, because I really wanted to taste this cake the way it was supposed to be. I used eggs I paid $1.50 a dozen for, so roughly $.38, a couple of cents for cheapy vanilla, and one quarter of a $2.50 pound of butter, or $.63-ish. So lets just go nuts and say I added a dollar of ingredients, and the unfrosted single-layer 9″ round cake cost me about $6.00 to make.

I can buy a container of frosting for $1.50. I can make frosting for significantly less, say $.25 out of lemon juice and powdered sugar. A single layer 7″ cake from the grocery store with buttercream frosting costs $7.99. And that would make me pukey, so–not too bad.

Even better at Amazon, where six boxes cost $23.84 and is eligible for free shipping. That’s about a dollar savings. ($3.97 a box.) I’m going to check it out at Wal-Mart and a couple other stores when I’m in Elko on Friday to see if they’re close to Amazon’s price.

Now to the cake.

It took 40 minutes to bake at 350 degrees. My whole kitchen filled with a really nice cakey aroma. It was a super good feeling to be happy about that without feeling guilty, or terrible because I’m not going to eat the goodness. The cake rose in the pan and pretty much looked just like a cake. It browned nicely on the top and looked very very yummy when it came out.

Poor Ruby about came out of her skin waiting for it to cool.

We had a little crisis next. Apparently Nick opened the foil from the top of our only container of chocolate frosting and stuck his finger in, then put it back in the pantry. Kevin, sometime later, had the same idea, found the open and unrefrigerated chocolate goodness and threw it away.

No frosting!

You would have thought someone said–no Seasame Street! Or no baby dolls!

Ruby was so not happy.

But you know what?

It was all good. We had some peanut butter ice cream.

And I got to taste the cake unadulterated.

It was so good! It had a nice spongey texture with a crisp crust. It just felt good biting into it. It just tasted like a basic plain cake. Practically begging to be experimented with.

This was cake. Nice, simple, Betty Crocker yellow cake like Betty’s always made it. Not gourmet or fancy, but feel-good and homey.

The Betty Crocker website has a great page for their gluten-free goodies. It tells the story about how they entered the gluten-free arena (two employees who needed gluten free prompted it.) I didn’t see it before I made my cake, but there is a page there that tells you how to substitute for the butter.

There are also tons of recipes that use these basic mixes. Banana cupcakes with browned butter frosting anyone? Yum Yum!

One last thing. I noticed that with all the eggs and butter, this is a really rich cake. A small piece (1/9 of the cake) was plenty. And let me tell you, I can eat cake. I’ve mentioned before, but I really notice that eating sweets with gluten in them trigger binging in me. For whatever reason, gluten-free treats don’t.

INGREDIENTS: Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Sugar, Potato Starch, Leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), Xanthan Gum, Salt.

P.S. General Mills also makes Rice Chex, which last year they made gluten free by giving up sweetening it with malt. Rice Chex is by far my go-to quick work-day breakfast. It tastes just like it always has.

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