Before I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease, I admit that I was a bit of a packet mix snob. Oh, I'd buy the White Wings mixes sometimes if I was running short of time, but I'd always make them a bit surreptitiously, feeling like I was cheating. Mostly, I made cakes, muffins, pies and slices from scratch, some more successfully than others.
Now that I have lost the inestimable advantage of wheat flour in my cooking, however, I've found that some baked goods are really, really hard to get right from scratch (some almost impossible). I've worked out the right substitutions for cookies - we make gingerbread, shortbread, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, sultana cookies, and a range of others from scratch and they work out well.
I've had less uniform success with cakes, though, and sponge cakes in particular have been a bugbear for me. I've tried cornflour sponges, but they just don't work (for me) as well as I'd like. Brownies, likewise, have failed to achieve the mandatory fudge gooeyness when baked gluten free.
So I have experimented with different packet mixes in an attempt to find a solution to these baking problems. Brownies were my first mission. After trying some that were, frankly, awful (tasteless, dry, altogether yuk), I gave Melinda's mix a try.
Now, I must admit that while many of my gluten free friends rave about the Melinda's range, I haven't found them universally wonderful. I made the lemon slice from that range a while back and I'm not sure if I just did it wrong, but it came out greasy and unpleasant. But I will say categorically that this brownie mix has 100% redeemed the brand in my mind, because it is AWESOME. Fudgy, rich, delicious, it's everything a good brownie should be. I make it at least once a month now and my kids are always super excited when it turns up in their lunchboxes.
The process is refreshingly straightforward, too, and only requires the addition of eggs and margarine / butter. I really like that aspect, as I get fed up with gluten free packet mixes that require half a dozen extra things to make them. Really, that is *not* the point of a packet mix!
Next up was sponge cake. I tried a few that were tasty enough but flat as pancakes, which is not the point of a sponge cake, especially if you believe (as I do) that the ability to cross-slice and add jam and cream is a mandatory component of a good sponge. Finally, on a friend's recommendation, I hit on Macro Foods' sponge mix and oh what a revelation it was :-)
Light, airy, stable enough to slice and fill, this cake mix is one of my absolute favourites now, as it just quietly works, every time, without any fuss or bother and lets me create a cake that looks (and tastes) The Business, which is what it's all about.
Of course, having my delightful assistant chef in the kitchen is the magic ingredient that brings it all together - and results in superbly licked-clean beaters, spoons and bowls :-)
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