Friday, April 15, 2011
Darling, you might have seen NYC Mo's heartbreaking comment about cake mix cakes throughout her childhood. I feel I must speak to this. First, I will admit a shameful secret. I can be a bit snobby about food. This isn't to say I refuse to eat foods that don't meet a certain "standard." No. No. In fact, HELL, no. If it's not nailed down or moving, I'll pretty much eat it. Maybe even ask for seconds. But if I'm making something for an event or a person in particular, I want to make cakes from scratch. Between you and me, dear invisibility, there is nothing wrong with a cake made from a mix. That's right, I said it. Nothing wrong at all. The end product is usually a moist, tender cake. And if you find the mix for 85 cents, so much the better! I think I just channeled my mother for a moment there. [cough] Okay. Better. This is the deal: baking requires precision. Cooking is an art, but baking is a science. When one cooks, there may be extravagance and silliness, last minute mix-ups, wild abandon. When one bakes, experimenting may occur, but one had better be wearing a white lab coat and appropriate protective eyewear. Changes and measurements should be noted in an official notebook. Or scribbled on the wall. Whatever. But it's a chemical reaction, baking is. The ratios of flour and sugar, egg and oil, salt and baking powder are critical. CRITICAL. The cake mix takes the likelihood of error out of the equation. Or...you know, most of it. Some of us can screw up Top Ramen. I'm just saying. I'm not judging. Just saying. The cake mix starts with cake flour. Cake flour is lower in gluten, a protein that toughens as it is mixed and handled. Using cake flour makes for a softer, more tender crumb, or cake texture. And the other stuff that goes into the dry mix is measured precisely. It's all in there! How cool is that? And yes, I know I geeked out on you right then. Get a cool cloth. The horror of it will pass, I promise. So there is NOTHING wrong with a nice cake made from a mix. Also, I don't think I can ship a red velvet cake with triple cream frosting to NYC and have it be anything close to edible by the time it arrives. Mo, either you have to visit me in my kitchen or I have to visit you. Do you have a KitchenAid? A Mix Master? A Cuisinart? Let's pick a weekend.