Tonight I was craving cake, a not uncommon occurrence, so I baked one using Trader Joe's Vanilla Cake & Baking Mix. I tend to be a snob about boxed mixes, believing that in baking, the slightly greater effort required to make things from scratch is more than rewarded by far superior products.
With this mix, however, I'm willing to eat my words in order to eat the cake. My mom first urged me to try it, raving about how delicious it was, so I did, and she was right.
What's notable about this cake is that it's incredibly easy to make, even more so than most cake mixes. It doesn't require a mixer and calls for only three ingredients other than the mix (butter, eggs, and milk). Yet it's seriously good--better, I admit, than some of the cakes I've made from scratch.
(Sorry for the weird, shadowy picture. When the urge to bake
strikes at 9:30 p.m., the natural light is long gone for any photo shoots.)
Some useful things to know, should you decide to try the cake for yourself:
- Although the box instructs you to combine the other ingredients first and then whisk in the mix, the cake turns out just fine should you mistakenly dump all ingredients into the bowl at once.
- The cake tastes best when eaten warm from the oven, at which time a delicate, crisp crust on top may be appreciated.
- Any remaining cake keeps well, covered in the refrigerator, for a few days; heating slices in a toaster oven somewhat re-crisps the crust, but it won't be as amazing as it originally was. As for many baked goods, this is a compelling rationale for enjoying a large portion on the first day.
- However, if you eat too much warm cake in too short a time, you may feel slightly unwell.
- The cake is excellent split and served with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.
- If you share a few crumbs with Maisie, you will win an ardent fan.