I don’t like the taste of cake mix. There’s something metallic about it that spoils the flavor for me. Plus, how much time does it actually save to use a mix, given that you have to add liquid, egg, and oil anyway? Not much and not worth it, because you get that nasty aftertaste in the end.
So when I heard we were going to do some work promoting pouches of completely ready to bake cakes (and brownies) from France, I was cynical. It’s true that I’ve rarely eaten anything French I didn’t like, but this product sounded too good to be true. Not a mix — rather a liquid batter that was all ready to bake, with nothing to add. And yet, authentic French recipes and taste?
It supposedly baked in under 10 minutes too and the pouches remained fresh for up to a year in your cupboard. Also stretching my credulity: the chocolate cakes and brownies didn’t contain any dairy at all.
Of course for some reason it immediately made me think of my Easy-Bake-Oven (or should I say my sister’s Easy-Bake-Oven, they gave it to her but I immediately took it over). I loved the horrible taste of those light-bulb baked tiny cakes.
But what a relief when the Ready-to-Bake cakes tasted nothing like that.
The chocolate and caramel lava cakes were amazing. Truly yummy. The brownies were just OK but I haven’t tried the gluten-free version of the brownies which are apparently fabulous. My favorite cake was actually when I swirled the chocolate and caramel lava cake together to make a chocolate-caramel lava cake.
The packages say to use the batter within 24 hours after opening but I liked the way the chocolate cake tasted after the batter sat in the fridge for a while. The cocoa got more intense tasting but the moist, tender texture of the crumb wasn’t compromised at all, in spite of the fact that the liquid batter got less fluid over time (just like fresh batter does).
I thought it might be my imagination that the cake in a pouch was so good — I mean, it bakes in under 10 minutes! — so I threw a dinner party and invited foodie snobby friends from Berkeley.
They loved the cake too! And they aren’t the types to hold back.
After being on my feet all day preparing an elaborate dinner, it was a great feeling to snip, pour, and create a dessert in under 10 minutes that everyone went nuts for. Why can’t someone come up with marinated steak, gratin dauphinois, and salad you can squeeze out of a pouch all ready to go?
The salted caramel lava cake contains cream and butter (from France, people, have I mentioned that?) but it is their heritage and you have to forgive them because it is their signature dessert. The fleur-de-sel in the recipe is even sel de guérande, the finest salt Europe has to offer.
Fun Halloween idea for kids: throw a cupcake making party with chocolate and caramel Ready-to-Bake batter, cans of frosting, orange and black sprinkles and candy corn. Because the cupcake batter is all ready to go, you can spend the entire party perfecting your decorating.
Ready-to-Bake batters are available in the south, select states in the Midwest, and Fairway Supermarkets in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, but anyone can order them on igourmet.com. Hurry up and order them before they raise the price again on there. Remember, the pouches keep for a whole year and you can have French cake in 8 minutes. Whenever you want.