September 4, 2013

Homemade Devil's Food Cake Mix

So, I kind of have a new obsession.

I have a lot of those, don't I? Icebox cakes, silicone ice cube trays, Benedict Cumberbatch...

(My mother and I have decided that he would make the perfect Mr. Rochester. So, Hollywood, can you make a non-sucky movie version of Jane Eyre and cast him? I would be very grateful. Kthxbai)

But this new obsession is actually super useful. It's easy, it saves time in the kitchen, it makes for great gifts, and it's pretty frugal. It's all about the homemade mixes, baby.

I've made homemade mixes in the past, but the obsession really started with my peanut butter cookie mix. Even the most adamant of scratch cooks can agree that mixes are convenient and so much easier. But unless you buy the super expensive, all natural, organic, gourmet, hand crafted cake mixes from fancy shops, they also tend to taste pretty artificial and are loaded with mystery ingredients and preservatives. And there are so many recipes out there for cake mix "fixes" and making cake mix taste "homemade," that I think we can all agree that cake mixes don't stand up to the real thing.

But there are also a lot of really cool recipes that use mixes for things completely other than their original purpose. Honestly, how many cake batter recipes are there out there? Cake batter ice cream, cake batter cookies, cake batter marshmallows, cake batter fudge. The original inspiration for making my peanut butter cookie mix came from a pin I'd found on Pinterest about how to make any cookie mix into cookie dough frosting. I thought that would be really cool to do with peanut butter cookie dough, and I decided to do research to see if I could find a recipe for a homemade mix (mostly because I didn't feel like going to the store). When I couldn't find one, I decided that had to be rectified, and an obsession was born.
The main issue with mixes is that you can only use dry ingredients, and it needs to be shelf-stable. This is why most mix recipes are just flour, sugar, salt, and leavenings. But if I'm making a mix, I want it to be comparable to the ones you buy at the store. I don't want to still have to cream the butter; I want to make it in a bowl with a whisk. So I cut in butter-flavored shortening. Now, I know shortening weirds a lot of people out, they don't like the taste, they're worried about trans fat, they think it's made by the devil. You can buy non-hydrogenated shortening if you're worried about trans fat, and shortening actually contains less saturated (bad) fat and more unsaturated (good) fat per serving than butter. Of course, any fat that's solid at room temperature is high in saturated fat, but I never claimed I was giving you health food.

Besides, the recipe I based this on, from- you guessed it- Old Reliable, calls for shortening and not butter.

If it's simply a taste/texture issue, then you can use cold butter instead, but you'll have to store the mix in the freezer.
Then, whenever you want devil's food cake, it's just as easy as the ones you get from the store. Mix, oil, eggs, water, and some ninja vanilla extract. Regular vanilla is fine if you can't find the ninja.

Get it? Get it? I made a funny.
Mix, mix, mix. The batter is pretty liquidy. I would suggest only adding half the water at first, so you can make sure all the lumps are out.
Pour, pour, pour.
Bake, and you got cake! XD This cake rises like nobody's business, so you could potentially get three thin layers out of it, but I only have two cake tins, and I was too lazy to make a third layer. I ended up splitting the layers anyway.

I usually make a kind of "Fauxstess" cupcake/cake with this recipe. Fill with Marshmallow Whoopie Pie Filling, frost with Fudge Frosting.
Or just eat as is. This cake is rich and moist, but still manages to be super fluffy. This is seriously the only Devil's Food recipe that I've ever used, and now that I've got the mix, I can whip it up at a moment's notice.

Just a note: because of the powdered buttermilk, I wouldn't keep this more than 3 months unless storing in the refrigerator or freezer. But I don't think it will ever last that long.

Devil's Food Cake Mix
Yield: Approx. 5 cups dry mix

2 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
9 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
5 tbsp. dried buttermilk powder
1½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup butter flavored shortening

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the shortening. Cut in the shortening using a pastry cutter, or pulse in a food processor, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container up to three months.

Based on the Devil's Food Cake recipe from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook

Devil's Food Cake
Yield: 1 2-layer cake

1 recipe Devil's Food Cake Mix
1¼ cups water
3 eggs
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour, or line with parchment paper, two 9-inch round cake tins.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well blended. (Tip: only mix in half the water at first to eliminate lumps, then mix in the rest. This is recommended, but not necessary.)

Divide the batter equally between the two pans. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on wire racks.

Tip: Reduce the bake time by 10 minutes for cupcakes

Based on the Devil's Food Cake recipe from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook