A Ready Mix Xmas
Looking at store windows stuffed with decorated cakes you wonder if you can bake a similar surprise for your guests on Christmas day - so attractive that your guests sing Halleluiah. But you are concerned whether the eggless cakes for the vegetarian guest will be as soft as the one with egg. Besides who has time to measure the exact quantity and to mix all the things with a blender, in this fast paced life when consumers look for quicker options.
All our doubts and queries just faded when we conducted a user test of ready mix cake available in the market. We conducted the test with 61 participants who represented various sections of the society that included experts, novices, those who had never seen a cake made and also those knew how to make cakes but do not have an oven.
User test was conducted and in only 5 days time to bake 2 cake, but lo and behold! the results arrived faster that the time that took to bake the cakes. The reason was that the time taken from opening the pack to the finally baking and removing the cake from oven was approximately an hour and a half. Besides all the additional ingredients that were mentioned on labelling were easily available in the kitchen. Interestingly, some of our experts and innovative participants used additional ingredients like nuts and lemon juice to enhance the taste and texture. However no one tried out the additional recipes that were mentioned on all the labelling.
Basically the term baking means using the heat in the oven to convert flour, water, yeast, sugar and such into baked goods. In the process the starch content in the food is processed usually that provides the brown colour which lends it an attractive and appetizing look. Baking cakes are a little complicated as everything needs to be measured to the exact amount, nothing more nothing less. The baked food does not stale easily as it contains less moisture.
We were in for many surprises when we combed the market for baking options for our users, for Christmas. The market has adapted itself seamlessly to the Indian consumer profile with "eggless cakes" which could be baked in pressure cookers, and vegetarian jellies and custards, for those who read the labels - to meet their vegetarian requirements. We chose 5 cake mixes and 3 brands of custards and jellies.
The cooker will brust without water: The cooker wont break as the steam is let out through the lid.
Cake would not be soft without egg: In our test wefound that there are vegetarian cake option in Pillsbury, Fun food
12 steps to perfect cake!
1. Temperature: Cakes are best made in a warm kitchen or temp not lower than 65-70° F. If ingredients are stored in a cool place they should be taken out 2 hours before use.
2. Preparation of fruits- Dried fruits should be washed thoroughly dried. In fact after buying, they should be washed completely dried before storing.
3. Preparation of cake tins – Clean, dry tins should be lined with greased paper at the bottom+sides. Non-stick cake tins are available now. They should also be lightly greased.
4. For rich fruit cakes which take several hours to bake, two strips of brown paper should be used to avoid the outsides becoming too hard.
5. Sponge and light cakes need to be protected with grease proof paper to avoid sticking and breaking while turning out.
6. Oven should be turned on at least 15 min. before use for achieving correct temp when cake is put in for baking.
7. M easuring Some recipes give spoon equivalent for measuring. As every house hold spoons vary in size only standard measuring spoons should be used. These are available at big stores.
8. Eggs should be broken into a cup one at a time to make sure they are fresh and added one at a time and mixed thoroughly to avoid curdling.
9. Flour - Soft flour with high protein content of only 7-10% is best to give soft, fine texture& medium rise. Stronger flours give a very high rise and coarse texture
10. Folding in – To fold in ingredients, means to add them so that the air in the mixture is not lost. The flour should
be sieved and very gently folded into the mixture by cutting through the mixture, turning or folding over while adding ingredients with a metal spoon till thoroughly mixed
11. Texture of cake - the best way to test if the cake is cooked or not is to press lightly with fingers in the center of the top while it is still in the oven. If the surface is firm, cake is cooked, or insert clean warm skewer into the
middle of the cake], if it comes out clean then the cake is cooked
12. Storage - All cakes must be quite cold before storing, otherwise mould will develop A sponge cake should be eaten in two days but rich fruit cake will keep for months in an air tight container
Some of our key findings:
1. All cakes turned out tasty and fluffy.
2. Only the regular cake-experts could in fact dish out a perfect cake on the first trial.
3. The Doubting-Thomases failed to get the desired results on the first go. Some of the participants added a little water in the cooker fearing that the cooker might burst if it is dry, with the result that the cake hardened on cooling.
4. The cakes were less sugary so the diabetic patients could also take a bite.
5. Those with a sweet tooth suggested that more sugar should be added to the ingredients.
6. Some suggested that the ready mix should contain nuts.
7. Cakes cooked faster in a cooker than in electric ovens and OTG!
8. All the cakes took more time than mentioned on the labelling.
9. The cakes were as good as home made, easy to cook and could be stored for later use.
10. Cakes were softer when made with butter.
11. A little extra water can be added to the batter when baking in a microwave.
12. To reduce the eggy flavour a little lemon juice can be added.
13. Many of the participants were already using custards.
14. Only few knew about jelly and most of them failed to set the jellies right, either due to adding extra water or because they forgot to chill the mix.
15. Vanilla custard formed an excellent combination with the chocolate cakes. !