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Fat Kid Friday: King Arthur Lemon Buttermilk Cake Mix Review

July 29, 2011

I have a theory that even the greatest of chefs needs to have an ace up their sleeve for “those” nights – when you’re tired and hungry, or you have people coming over, or (worse) you’re tired and have people coming over. You not only don’t want to cook, you don’t want to have to think about dessert too.

For those nights, there are box mixes.

Not all box mixes are created equal. The quality of the ingredients and the method of preparation count for a lot. Don’t get me wrong– I am in no way knocking the mixes at the lower end of the price spectrum. I have had some damn good cake that came out of a box from the dollar store, and they’re fantastic when you need to use cake mix as an ingredient in another recipe. However, there are times when you want to splurge a little, and serve up something fabulous without a whole lot of effort.

It’s times like that when I reach for one of the King Arthur mixes that are inevitably tucked somewhere in my cupboard. I reach for them first because they are delicious, and also because the quality of the product WAY surpasses the fact that it comes out of a box.

I have even given these mixes as hostess gifts, and I have yet to have anyone be disappointed. I took a box of their scone mix all the way to Arizona with me this past April when I attended a wedding, and was told by the Bride’s mother that I was welcome to stay at their house anytime… as long as I had a box of that scone mix with me!

Up until now, I have only used KA’s scone and bar mixes. As a matter of fact, they have an entire line of mixes which can be found on their excellent website. A few days ago my mom picked up a box of their Lemon Buttermilk Cake mix, and charged me with making it.

Please pardon the blurriness… I’m taking pictures with my iPhone while I’m in the middle of moving 🙂

Challenge accepted.

I’m always a little suspicious of products that are supposed to taste like lemon, because I find that they have an unpleasant aftertaste or are overly bitter. When I started to mix up the cake batter, I got a whiff of that fake lemon and found myself wondering “Is this going to be the King Arthur mix that lets me down?”

It’s so fluffeh!

As soon as it had cooled enough to eat, I bit into one of the cake balls that I had made (because really, isn’t bite-sized almost always better?) and I was greeted by a supremely moist cake with a tight, tender crumb, that tasted delicately of lemon and just a hint of tanginess from the buttermilk.

That’s a lot of awesome from a cake ball.

I shouldn’t have worried, I realized as I ate another (and possibly a third…) because the folks at King Arthur are known for the amount of care and testing that they put into their products before they are ever allowed to see the light of day.

I’ll be honest, there’s still a hint of that weird fake-lemon aftertaste, but it’s not bitter and it certainly isn’t going to be enough to stop me from eating a few more of these when I’m done writing. Of course, the stick and a half of butter and four eggs that go into the mix don’t hurt.

How could it not be good with this cast of characters?

Here’s my final review*, with each category being based on a scale of 100 where 1 is the worst and 100 is the best.

Packaging: 95 – KA does a great job, putting a tantalizing photo of the product on the front (which yours, I might add, will never look like).

Ingredients: 85 – The thing I like least about KA mixes is that you usually don’t have everything you need just lying around. I had to plan ahead to have the butter/eggs/milk needed on hand.

Directions: 95 – Clear, concise, and detailed. If you follow the directions faithfully you will be rewarded with something delicious.

Final Product: 90 – As I mentioned, the texture of the cake was out of this world. Moist and tender, with a tight crumb (think angel food cake, only denser). The flavor was the only reason it lost points; it’s hard to do lemon well when you’re not using fresh lemons.

Final Score: 91.25

*A teeny-tiny disclaimer: There is a pouch of glaze mix that goes with this cake– I didn’t make it, because I have other plans for my cake balls, so you’re on your own with that one…

Verdict: Make it! If prepared in a bundt pan as instructed and glazed with something delicious (perhaps a raspberry coulis?) this dessert would be a completely suitable “company” dessert. It’s beautiful to look at, has great mouthfeel, and the house smells like you’ve been baking all day even though it’ll only take you about an hour.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sharlot permalink
    July 29, 2011 22:10

    Ooo! It is fluffeh!

    What are you doing/did with the balls?


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