Review: We Tried The $25 Cake Mix That's Constantly Sold Out

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More and more, small companies are taking on the grocery store giants in the world of packaged food items. We've seen everything from canned tuna to jarred mayonnaise get a packaging facelift, not to mention a more wholesome ingredient list packed with pricier, premium components. For the most part, consumers have shown they are happier to pay more to get products that taste better and aren't packed with chemicals, additives, and preservatives.

That's exactly what Jordan Rondel was thinking when she founded The Caker. For decades, a handful of huge brands have ruled the boxed cake mix aisle, leaving little room for outsiders. Even the best boxed cake mixes leave a lot to be desired in terms of both flavor and texture, but the boxed cake mixes from The Caker are in a class of their own. Hand-packed boxes full of premium ingredients whip up easily into decadent and beautiful masterpieces that are taking social media by storm.

The only drawback? These mixes will set you back $25 per mix (not including added fresh ingredients like eggs or milk). A classic yellow cake mix from Duncan Hines or Pillsbury typically costs less than $2, so we wanted to test a few mixes by The Caker to see if they were really worth this extra cost.

What's in it?

Depending on what mix you buy, each kit comes with all the dry ingredients required for the cake, plus some sort of garnish and a circle of parchment paper to bake the cake in. Right off the bat, these mixes are showing their worth by creating a completely finished cake with all necessary garnish or topping. Most other mixes make just a plain slab of cake and it's up to the baker to buy or make frosting and add any sprinkles if desired.

For the flourless chocolate cake, the kit came with a mix of the dry ingredients (a mix of cocoa powder, sugar, and almond meal), a bag of chocolate couverture, a sheet of edible 24-karat gold leaf, a parchment circle, and the instructions. The coconut raspberry lime leaf kit has a completely different makeup and includes the cake mix, dried coconut, glaze mix, ground lime leaf, crushed dehydrated raspberries, and the parchment circle and instructions as the other kit had.

How much does one mix cost?

Each mix starts at $25, though the website often offers bundles making each kit around $20, and offers free shipping for larger orders. Compared to a plain vanilla cake mix from a large brand, that's roughly 10 times the cost of other mixes, though that isn't factoring in the cost of any frosting, toppings, or mix-ins you might add that would make the cake truly compared to one by The Caker.

Rondel addresses the high cost on her website and cites factors like being an owner-operated small business and utilizing her expertise and tried-and-true recipes. Of course, the cost of goods is one of the biggest factors, as Rondel uses only the best of the best. According to her, the espresso dark chocolate cake kit contains "over $7 of Intelligentsia freeze-dried Black Cat espresso" alone, along with other pricey ingredients like chocolate couverture and organic coconut sugar. 

Where can you buy one?

Right now, the mixes are only available direct-to-consumer via the website and "in very select stores who order from us through Faire." For bakers in the Los Angeles area, the cake kits are sold at all locations of Erewhon. Some major retailers like Macy's also sell and ship the mixes. It's not immediately apparent what other stores might stock the mixes, so your best bet is definitely going to be the website.

The cake kits tend to sell out, and some still have not returned to the website since the busy holiday period. Good things come to those who wait, so if you must get your hands on a kit, subscribe to the newsletter to be notified immediately when the mixes are back in stock. If you simply can't stand another day without cake, Rondel often posts recipes for her famous cakes on her website, available for free to anyone who wishes to recreate her signature look and style.

Nutritional info

Each cake kit contains whole, real ingredients and none of the mixes contain any preservatives or chemical additives, which is a true feat and a testament to the quality as ingredients like almond meal will go rancid quickly if not properly stored. The flourless chocolate cake has 120 calories per serving (assuming the cake is cut into 12 slices) and the coconut has 220 calories per serving, most likely higher because it comes with a frosting. Both of the cakes come with a fairly high content of saturated fat and sugar, though that's pretty typical of cake. Those looking for sugar- or fat-free baking will probably not find what they are looking for with these mixes.

Many of the mixes can be made vegan and come with instructions for making them so. All are certified GMO-free and some are also gluten-free, so there are options for everyone, including those with dietary restrictions.

Is it easy to make?

Each mix is slightly different, so the amount of effort that goes into making one will vary. That being said, the two mixes we tried were as simple as any other cake mix. The coconut cake mix asked us to combine oil or melted butter and milk with the dry ingredients and stir. Before baking, we studded some fresh raspberries into the batter. The icing was an extremely simple combination of the mix, dried lime leaf, and a few tablespoons of milk.

As for the flourless chocolate cake, we had to melt butter and chocolate together before combining them with the dry mix and folding in some eggs. Neither is an especially far cry from standard mixes which often call for additions of melted butter and eggs. The additional steps of The Caker mixes didn't feel tedious and actually made the process more fun. Taking the time to add in fresh fruit or melt chocolate wasn't a chore and we felt like we were baking from scratch, with some added convenience.

How does it taste?

The flavors of both cakes were incredible, and not just for a boxed cake mix. Boxed cake mixes tend to have a spongy quality because they rely on chemicals and additives to achieve rise, as opposed to a scratch-made cake that typically uses mechanical leavening by creaming butter and sugar together (as well as baking soda and powder).

The coconut raspberry cake baked up extremely tender with a fine crumb that no other box mix could achieve. The flavor has a divine combination of sweet coconut, tart raspberry, and fragrant lime leaf (try getting that in a different boxed cake mix!). Visually, it's a cake you could debut at a friend's birthday or serve at a dinner party and everyone would assume you made it from scratch. The flourless chocolate cake had a deeply rich chocolate flavor with the exact kind of tender-on-the-inside, crisp-on-the-outside texture that this type of cake should have.

The verdict: is it worth buying?

In all, these mixes are definitely worth buying for a special occasion or if you are just looking to branch out and try a unique and flavorful cake without paying bakery prices. Sure, you could buy all these ingredients and make the cake yourself, but you might end up with a bunch of excess ingredients that you have no intention of using. What makes these mixes special is the addition of unique ingredients that elevate the whole thing. Things like gold leaf, dehydrated raspberries, and lime leaf powder may be in the pantry for a professional gourmet baker but the average person would have to go out and buy them (or maybe even special order).

Even professional and seasoned bakers could enjoy baking with these mixes, which provide just the right intersection of convenience and quality. None of the flavors offered by The Caker are similar in any way to any other mix we've seen before, which just adds to the appeal.