Just take one box of cake mix. Really? The beautiful thing about baking for me is taking all the ingredients, weighing them out, mixing them together and baking them into something wonderful. The whole process is a joyful alchemy. Using exactly the same ingredients to produce wildly different bakes. It’s like a glorious amalgamation of science and magic. So why do so many recipes, especially American recipes, start off with those dreaded words. Just take one box of cake mix. Lay-zee. I know there will be some arguments stating time as a factor. If the Americans are trying to balance busy working lives with family commitments I can sort of understand. I really do think baking as a pastime should be accessible to everybody. People should not be alienated because they are pressed for time. But how much time are you actually saving by not weighing out a few simple dry ingredients? And what exactly are the measurements of a standard box of cake mix anyway? These recipes don’t translate at all for those of us on this side of the Atlantic. Which can be a shame because some of the bakes themselves look fantastic.
There is a conspiracy theory that most of the technological advances that we have made since 1947 have been as a direct result of the Roswell incident. For anyone who hasn’t heard the story, this is the supposed crash landing of an alien space craft on a ranch in the New Mexico desert just outside Roswell. I assume it was a cattle ranch. There does seem to be a load of old bull involved. The U.S. military then quickly secreted the crashed ufo to Area 51 where for the last sixty odd years scientists have been back-engineering the technology. And that’s where all of our modern marvels such as mobile phones, computers and superfast stealth planes have come from. The reason I mention this tall tale is because I found myself in a similar position. Having acquired a lovely new cake tin I looked around online and found a stunning chocolate cake baked in the exact same tin. The only problem was the recipe started with those dreaded words. Just take one box of chocolate cake mix. If I wanted to bake this cake I was going to have to find a recipe that back-engineered a box of cake mix – just to find its component parts. So for the advancement of human beings in the field of baking sciences, that’s exactly what I did. You’re welcome.
Essentially, the mixture was now going to be exactly the same as making a ‘from scratch’ cake for a standard 10 cup Bundt tin. The only thing that slightly worried me was the amount of raising agents in the cake. It would be fine and dandy for a Bundt. That is, the cake mixture would need a lot of lift-off to rise up the sides. The tin I would be using was a sheet cake tin, so it was much more shallow. I knew it would hold the full 10 cups of mixture, but with all that oomph I was worried it might be like dropping a mint into a bottle of cola. Instead of gently inching its way up the sides of a tall Bundt tin it would perhaps end up being jet propelled over the sides of the sheet tin. As it was, the cake mixture all stayed inside the tin. The only down side was the lift mostly seemed to occur in the middle of the cake and there was a little bit of mounding. It could have done with staying a bit more level to really show off the design of the tin. As it was, the cake finished off looking ever so slightly up in the air.
A tin to bake it in.
I love a good cake tin. I just hope this Wilton sheet cake tin lifts your hearts as much as it did mine. I’m not sure of the exact name. There is no mention of what it is called on the packaging but I’ve most often seen it advertised as the Wilton Wedding Hearts tin. Even though it was probably not the best tin for this bake I can’t wait to use it again. If you do want to try this recipe for yourself, you could use any 10 cup Bundt tin or a 23cm by 33cm tray bake tin. If ever I see a recipe that uses a chocolate cake mix again, I know this homemade version would be a great replacement. The cake itself turned out to be delectably moist and chocolatey. It was quick and easy to make too. Perfect for occasions like Roswell, when you have unexpected visitors. I must say I was a bit stuck for what to call this bake. I couldn’t exactly call it ‘homemade back-engineered luxury chocolate cake-mix cake’. It wouldn’t fit on the header for one thing. So you might notice that for easiness sake I’ve called it Chocolate Hearts Cake instead. When I told my nearest and dearest that this was a sheet cake, they told me not to be so hard on myself. In fact, they all agreed that it tasted out of this world. Now here’s that recipe… Enjoy.
CHOCOLATE HEARTS CAKE.
- For the homemade luxury chocolate cake mix.
- 260g Plain Flour.
- 100g Cocoa Powder.
- 350g Granulated Sugar.
- 2 tsp Baking Powder.
- 1 tsp Bicarb.
- ½ tsp Salt.
- 60g Margarine.
- To finish the cake.
- 300ml Water.
- 120ml Vegetable Oil.
- 4 Eggs.
- 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract.
- Position a shelf in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour a 10 cup Bundt tin or sheet cake tin.
- To make the homemade chocolate cake mix: Using the paddle attachment, beat together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, bicarb, salt and margarine until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- In a pouring jug, whisk together the water, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth.
- With the mixer still running on low speed, slowly pour in the egg mixture until just combined.
- Increase the speed to medium and beat just until the mixture is smooth. No more than two minutes.
- Pour into the prepared tin and level the surface.
- Bake the Bundt for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Bake the sheet cake for 45 minutes or just until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.