Cake Mixes

Monday, 3 November 2008 | Tags:

Around 60% of households rely on the convenience of cake mixes these days, but are they really worth the sacrifice in taste and quality? We compare a few mixes to a trusted scratch recipe to see which one takes the blue ribbon.

The Basics

  • The cake mix is basically all the dry ingredients you’d find in a scratch cake, conveniently pre-measured: flour, sugar, leavening, fat, salt, and flavour. The difference is there are also things like preservatives, emulsifiers, leavening agents and maybe even some binders and thickeners.

  • Remember: fat content refers to the dry mix, which means you have to factor in the eggs, oils, milk and other ingredients. There are usually low-fat alternatives suggested on the box.

Other Considerations

  • Cake mixes have a long shelf life (approximately one year) so keep a few of each flavour in your pantry for quick dessert treats. 

  • With so many flavour options and the near-guarantee it’ll turn out right if you follow the directions, it can be fun to experiment.


For our series The Shopping Bags, we tested these four brands of Devil’s Food (chocolate) cake mix against our scratch recipe to see which one pleased our palates most:

  • Shiriff’s Added Touch: 99¢ (we needed to use two packages to equal the same amount as other mixes)
  • Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe: $2.40
  • Betty Crocker Super Moist (with pudding in the mix): $2.40
  • Dr. Oetker’s Organic: $2.99
  • Scratch Cake recipe: $6.14

Fat Test

Once we added the ingredients as listed on the package, here’s how the fat added up in our test mixes:

  • Shiriff’s: dry = 4.7 grams; baked = 11.4 grams

  • Duncan Hines: dry = 3.5 grams; baked = 15 grams

  • Betty Crocker: dry = 2.5 grams: baked = 13.5 grams

  • Dr. Oetker: dry = .5 grams; baked = 11 grams

Taste Test

  • The cheaper Shiriff was a definite no go in the taste department.

  • The Duncan Hines wasn’t the tastiest

  • The healthier Dr. Oetker didn’t deliver on taste; you could tell it was healthier (it was even compared to hay!)

  • The Betty Crocker was yummy and received top marks


We think Betty Crocker makes a yummy cake – it was the closest taste to homemade, so without a doubt that’s the cake mix we’ll be stocking on our shelves.

   Thanks to Our Experts

  • Heather White and Laurie Kleeman run and own the very successful Cupcakes bakery
  • Nutritionist Nina Hirvi
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