Convenience food is a growing market, ready meals make up £1.9 billion pounds of supermarket sales and the new area for growth is ‘Cheat Baking Mixes’. You know the stuff, just add eggs and here’s a red velvet cake, or add milk and you’ve got a chocolate brownie, mix it up and you’ve got freshly baked cakes in minutes.
So I’ve done some investigation – do homemade cakes taste better than ‘Just Add Water Cakes’ and which is better value for money?
‘Aunt Bessie’ (the Yorkshire pudding lady) now offers in many supermarkets her own range of cake mixes, a plain sponge, for example, costs £1.49 plus you’ll need to add your own butter so it works out just under £2 per cake. If you were to make an equivalent sponge from scratch it will cost about £3, so immediately you’ll see it’s the cheaper way to knock up a sponge.
Is it quicker to just add butter and water to the mix, than to make your own from individual ingredients? Not really, by the time you’ve read through the instructions, opened the packet and baked both will take 40-45 minutes including baking time, so they’re not going to save you any time. You’ll have to wait equivalent time before you can decorate, or smother in butter icing too.
Taste testing is where Homemade wins, there is no comparison in flavour texture and colour. The mixes often leave you with a slight artificial taste in your mouth and don’t have that fresh buttery richness you enjoy in a delicious slice of cake.
Is one better for you than the other? Well neither will be recommended in your Weight Watchers Class, but a little cake in moderation isn’t such a bad thing – comparing the two ingredients list is interesting – the homemade cake has 5 ingredients (self raising flour, butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla) whereas the ready made cake mix contains 11 including a few which really don’t sound too appetising – so if you had to pick one if being careful about what you’re eating it would have to be the homemade sponge.
Does ready made sponge mix have it’s place? Perhaps, but not for me. I can’t see the £1 saving making up for the average taste and texture of the sponge. If you want to see how easy making your own sponge can be take a look at my recipe section for the 5 ingredient vanilla sponge cake.