When it comes to cake, my husband and I are in two different camps. He prefers to buy cakes premade at the grocery story, frosted, decorated and ready for him to cut and eat. I, however, am used to my family’s idea of cake – which is to make a unique cake for each individual family member’s birthday, the holiday we’re celebrating, or whatever occasion calls for cake. And we make them from scratch. Unfortunately, I don’t always have ingredients on hand or it takes too long to make certain cakes, I take on bigger projects than I can actually complete while taking care of the children or whatever else happens to the cakes I love. So to strike a compromise with my hubby, I’ve found that semi-homemade is his second favorite kind of cake. And that’s where the cookbook Complete Cake Mix Magic comes in.
Prepared by Jill Snider, this cookbook is an excellent collection of several different kinds of cakes – 300 recipes to be exact, that as the tagline of the book says, are “just as good as homemade”. When reviewing this book, I tried out two special cakes – the first was for my son’s first birthday party. I made the Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake for his birthday. I topped it with chocolate frosting that I warmed up in the microwave and drizzled over the top of the cake, added sprinkles and a candle. It went over very well with the party goers, although it was a bit rich for me. Since it’s not a huge cake, it worked out well because even a small piece was satisfying. It was definitely chocolate and very moist! I also love any recipe that uses the Bundt pan, because I so rarely use it and my husband thinks it doesn’t deserve a spot in the kitchen if it’s not used very often. I disagree, so I like to dig out recipes that use it often.
The second cake that I made from this cookbook was a coffee cake for the Bible study/friend time that I have weekly with a friend of mine. We take turns on who is hosting and who is bringing breakfast, and it was my turn to bring breakfast. When I was little, I remember my grandmother almost always had a coffee cake ready at her house. I think maybe it was the Tripoli group that would bring it over, but I’m not sure. At any rate, she had coffee cake and it was one of my fondest memories. So a coffee cake seemed the way to go. I tried the Apple Coffee Cake recipe, but I used the wrong pan and I think that made a big difference. I had a hard time choosing between the Apple Pinwheel Cake and the Apple Coffee Cake, and I think since I do have the springform pan that the pinwheel cake calls for, I should have gone with that option instead. But I did the Apple Coffee Cake and the only issue I had with it was my pan choice. The recipe calls for a tube pan, and I think that would’ve made a much steadier side. Since I used a Bundt pan, it seemed to crumble a bit on the side because I didn’t seal the layers of batter and apple very well to build strong edges. I’m also not very good at estimation – when you have to put a third of the batter in different layers, I usually end up with a ton on the first layer and barely any left for the last, which I did true to form on this recipe as well. So that would’ve been better, but those issues were with the cook and not the recipe. The recipe itself was fantastic. It was so delicious, perfectly sweet and moist, and it paired perfectly with coffee. My friend even kept some for her family because she really liked it! The recipe was definitely a success, even if my baking skills were off that day!
Overall, these were fantastic recipes. The ones I’ve already tried aren’t too difficult to make, taste fantastic, and are a great use of cake mixes. It really takes your basic mix to the next level and turns it into one of those desserts that no one can believe you made in your own kitchen! For the busy home cook, one who isn’t quite sure of their baking prowess yet, or any fan of cake mixes, this is a perfect cookbook.