I have never ever used a packet cake mix in my life until now! That's it..... confession over!
But I was recently contacted by Delicious Alchemy, a UK-based company, which specialises in gluten free breakfast products and cake and bread mixes, asking if I would be willing to test and review some of their products.
Delicious Alchemy was founded by Emma Killilea after being diagnosed Coeliac and discovering just how few gluten free alternatives were available out there. With a determination to make delicious gluten free options more widely available, the company has gone from strength to strength and now has a string of awards under its belt.
Both myself and my daughter (who is always especially excited at the prospect of Postie bringing a box of treats) eagerly awaited delivery of our parcel of goodies and when it arrived we were not disappointed. A selection of products - from porridge to cake and bread mixes came in a sturdy eye-catching box.
Packaging is actually really important to the products that I buy. It should convey the quality of what is held within, but at the same time not waste resources, which means eye-catching simplicity is key. I like the branding here. It is clear, minimal and straight forward, yet the packaging felt secure and quite tactile (not thin and crinkly) which (for me) conveyed a good image.
I plan to work gradually through my goodies to do the experience full justice and to try and test the products at least a little beyond the basic instructions. After all, a bake mix, whether it comes from a packet or not, should be seen as a blank canvass for culinary creativity!
This weekend I decided to put the Vanilla Sponge Mix to work. As I had a load of blueberries in the fridge which were heading for their last few days, I decided to throw some of them into the mix and work on a bit of a berry theme. I also had some raspberry meringues which I made ages ago lurking in a tin and half a jar of Mixed Berry & Apple Jam which was still taking up fridge space, so thought I would use up these up as well.
Not sure what to expect from my first packet cake, I enthusiastically cut open the top and tipped the mix into a large bowl with the eggs and butter as per instructions. I think I must have disappeared for a few moments behind a cloud of sweet vanilla-tinged fog...... The powder-mix was unexpectedly fine...... Lesson 1 - next time tip gently!
The instructions for sponge-making were clear and straight forward, although I would have liked them to be in slightly larger font as I am getting increasingly unable to 'read the small print'. Nonetheless, they were easy to follow and worked exactly as they said they should.
Apart from adding some blueberries, I also substituted the stated water for some fruit syrup as I hoped this would add an additional fruity hit to the mix. It certainly didn't negatively affect the balance of the sponge, which was a good result, although it is hard to tell whether it added any additional flavour.
The crushed meringue has been folded into softly whipped cream and layered in the cake with some of the leftover jam, before topping with the remaining meringue-cream and blueberries. I probably over-crushed the meringue, which has given the cream a slightly grainy effect, but it still tastes fantastic...... adding a slight, sweet crunch to the cake which contrasts nicely with the soft fruity tang of the blueberries and the sponginess of the bake. I will just leave the meringue pieces slightly chunkier on another occasion.
And the Delicious Alchemy Vanilla sponge? We were more than pleasantly surprised! It held and distributed the blueberries perfectly. It was light and vanillary. Although it was perhaps a little sweeter than sponges I make from scratch, it had a good texture and was unexpectedly moist. All in all, it was a great success and was clearly enjoyed (judging by the soft noises of satisfaction which accompanied its eating)!
I am entering this cake into the following challenges this month, to share not only my positive experience of my first packet sponge, but also its heavenly, fruity presentation.
No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. The additions to this cake were completely inspired by leftovers - jam, meringue and blueberries
AlphaBakes with Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker (and Caroline Makes). This month's letter is 'S', so I am entering this as a Sponge Sandwich.
Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.
So what will I try next from my box of goodies?
Vanilla-Blueberry Cake with Meringue Cream
1 packet Delicious Alchemy vanilla sponge mix
3 large eggs
180g unsalted butter - softened
20 ml fruit syrup (I used Teisseire Raspberry Syrup)
4 tablespoons good quality berry jam (I used home made from this recipe)
300 ml double cream
3 individual meringue nests (mine were home-made raspberry flavoured)
Extra blueberries (approx 100g) to decorate
sprinkles as you choose
Method (makes 1x 8 inch (20 cm) sandwich cake)
- Base-line 2 non-stick round 8 inch (20 cm) baking tins with baking parchment. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Make the sponge batter as per the instructions on the packet (although I substituted the water for fruit syrup).
- Fold 100g blueberries (whole) into the batter and then divide the batter between the two cake tins, smoothing the surface.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and the top springs back to the touch.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Whilst cooling, whip the cream to soft peaks and then crush and fold in the meringue. Set aside.
- When the cakes are cold, gently heat the jam in a small bowl to make it more runny and spread across the inner surface of one of the sponge cakes into an even layer.
- Spoon about half the cream onto the jam surface and spread evenly.
- Place the second sponge on top of the filling. If you have any remaining jam in the bowl, smear this across the surface. Top with the remaining meringue cream.
- Decorate with the rest of the blueberries and sprinkles as you wish.
With thanks to the Delicious Alchemy team for sending me the samples to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all views expressed here are my own.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated