Product Review: Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mixes
Throughout recent years, the gluten free diet has become more and more common. As more people are diagnosed with gluten allergies and many others stick to a gluten free diet for general health reasons, it seems like we all know someone (or are someone) who is eating gluten free. Because of this, the world of gluten free recipes has exploded! There are hundreds of recipes out there for gluten free baked goods, however, gluten free baking can be a bit scary with unpronounceable ingredients like xanthan gum and psyllium husk powder.
Baking with gluten free ingredients can be challenging because it is so different than regular baking. The ingredients are different, the processes and the way that you mix everything are different- it is essentially a completely new baking experience. Luckily, many brands have simplified this process by releasing gluten free cake, cookie, muffin, and brownie box mixes. With these mixes all you do is measure, dump, mix, and bake- and voila, you have a yummy baked good! That being said, not all brands and mixes are created equal, so we are writing this post with the hopes that it will make finding a good gluten free cake mix that much easier.
We wanted to start by reviewing a range of gluten free vanilla cake mixes because they can be so versatile. You can bake these mixes into a sheet cake and top them with whipped cream and berries, you can make them into a two layer 8 inch cake with any frosting or filling you can dream up, or you can make them into adorable cupcakes that can be decorated just about any way you see fit. Gluten free mixes can get quite expensive, so we found some of the more reasonably priced brands that can be found around Bozeman, and in most larger grocery stores throughout the country. Let's get started!
This really is a fantastic mix! Bob's Red Mill cake mix was easy to make and had the most detailed instructions out of all of the brands that we are reviewing. While box cake mixes are notoriously easy to make, it is helpful to know in what order to add the ingredients and how long to mix everything together. Bob's Red Mill detailed all of this out in the instructions on the back of the mix, and the results were great as well.
The finished cakes had a lot of rise and had a very light crumb texture. The downfall for many gluten free cakes is that they fall apart and do not hold together well because gluten acts as a binder that holds everything together. However, these cakes held together beautifully and were easy to move, stack, and frost. The flavor of this cake was also the best out of the mixes that we tried. It has a slightly stronger vanilla flavor, while not being overly sweet.
As you will see, the Pamela's cake mix was pretty much equal to Bob's Red Mill in flavor and texture, but the price is really what sets these brands apart. While we were able to find Bob's Red Mill for just $3.89, the Pamela's mix was $6.10 and with this price difference, we would really recommend Bob's Red Mill!
This mix is an extremely close second in just about every way. The instructions were very clear and easy to follow, though not quite as detailed as Bob's Red Mill. These finished cakes also held together very well and were very easy to move and frost after baking. These cakes did not have quite as much rise as the Bob's Red Mill cakes but had a very light, springy texture. In fact, I think that you would be hard-pressed to tell these cakes apart from a cake made with a regular, glutinous cake mix! The flavor was also very nice, with a lighter vanilla flavor.
A bonus about this cake mix is that it is also dairy free. Dairy is another ingredient that many people try to stay away from, so this mix checks two boxes at once! If you are making this cake for someone avoiding dairy, just make sure that you purchase or make a dairy free frosting/ topping. If you are looking for a gluten and dairy free cake mix, we would highly recommend Pamela's.
This mix definitely ranked at the bottom of the mixes that we tried in pretty much every category. The instructions on the packaging are essentially "mix all the ingredients together and pour into pan." While this is basically what is required, it is nice to know that it works best to beat the eggs and oil together first, then whisk in the cake mix. We wish that the instructions were a bit more clear and more detailed.
The texture of the finished cakes was very light, but also fairly crumbly. The baked cakes were very fragile and cracked/ broke apart each time we had to move them. In the end, the frosting was essentially holding the cakes together. The flavor of these cakes was not the best, being a bit overly sweet with not much of a vanilla flavor. Overall, we would not recommend this brand of gluten free cake mix.
A note about all of these cakes: they are best the day of! The longer these cakes sit (even refrigerated and fully covered), the drier and more crumbly they will get. We highly suggest making these cakes the same day that you would like to enjoy them, possibly the day before if it can't be avoided.
Brands like Pamela's and Bob's Red Mill are specialty brands that have spent years curating gluten free products. They have found the right mix of different gluten free flours and starches to make really good cakes and other baked goods. So, when in doubt, these brands typically always have great gluten free products, and it is hard to go wrong with them!
We hope that this post has been useful in helping you find more gluten free sweet treats! Everyone deserves a little more cake in their lives, and Pamela's and Bob's Red Mill have some great gluten free options!
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