Food For Thought: Chocolate Cake

This is a very easy but delicious chocolate cake mix that can be made in bulk and stored in the pantry until required.

It’s possibly one of the most popular supermarket lines of all time, and definitely one of the most timesaving inventions of the 20th century, but the ‘packet cake mix’ wasn’t the overnight success that the smiling face of Betty Crocker would have us believe. The great depression brought with it a surplus of molasses and a very hungry America. Cake mix was developed to provide the country with a sweet fix for less fortunate times and for the very savvy John D. Duff, a way of cashing in on a sticky oversupply commodity. Duff, on December 10 1930, lodged the first patent for what is now known as ‘packet cake mix’. His 1930s gingerbread mix consisted of equal parts flour and dehydrated molasses with sugar, shortening, salt, baking soda, powdered whole egg, ginger and cinnamon. Baking at home would now only consist of three, mind-numbing steps: add water, stir and bake. Cake mixes continued to do well but sales would taper off when the housewives of the ‘40s and ‘50s found the simplicity of baking a cake from the packet too easy, almost to the point of undermining their role in the family kitchen. Now, several American cake mix manufactures have listened to the homemakers and developed the extra step of adding fresh eggs, a simple solution that resulted in a more superior end result and reassured housewives of their baking prowess. The only thing missing was the icing on the cake – literally! The further invention of ‘packet frosting’ was fully embraced by the consumerist era of the US and then, baking was completely revolutionised. Unfortunately, the ingredient listing of today’s packet cake mixes aren’t as simple as Duff’s original 1930 recipe. This rather humble concept is now the face of some of the worst displays of additives, flavours and E-numbers on our supermarket shelves. The reassuring smiles of the all-American housewife might have got this product of convenience this far but as we start to ask what’s inside the box, one can only hope a shift towards ‘real food’ is heard, resulting in another chapter in the history of the packet cake mix. @annabelleats

Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe

Dry cake mixes are easy to do at home and gives you complete control of the ingredients. This is a very easy but delicious chocolate cake mix that can be made in bulk and stored in the pantry until required. I serve it in four layers with whipped salted caramel in-between each one. Dark Chocolate Cake Mix Ingredients • 4 cups plain flour • 4 cups light brown sugar • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder • 4 teaspoons baking soda • 2 teaspoons baking powder • 2 teaspoons salt • 2 teaspoons vanilla powder (if you can’t find it, add vanilla extract to the wet ingredients) Method 1. Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl 2. Whisk until well combined 3. Evenly decant into two large, airtight jars (should be around four-and-a-half cups of mix in each jar) 4. Label and store until required

Dark Chocolate Cake with Whipped Salted Caramel Recipe

Ingredients • 1 jar of cake mix • 2 cups buttermilk • ½ cup of unsalted melted butter • 2 eggs Method 1. Preheat a fan forced oven to 180 degrees 2. Line and grease a cake tin with a removable base. 3. Place the jar of cake mix in a large mixing bowl 4. Lightly whisk the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter 5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry cake mix and stir until well combined 6. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean 7. Leave to rest in the tin for 15 minutes before removing and allowing to completely cool on a cake rack 8. Liberally decorate with icing or frosting as desired Whipped Salted Caramel • 350g light brown sugar • 200g unsalted butter • 1 cup of thick cream • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 200ml whipping cream • 1 teaspoon salt 1. Bring the brown sugar, butter, cream and vanilla to a gentle boil 2. Reduce for five minutes 3. Remove from heat 4. Add the sea salt (adjust to taste) and chill in the refrigerator overnight 5. Add the whipping cream and, with an electric whisk, beat until lighter in colour and the consistency of whipped cream

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