Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Vegan MoFo - Mix v. Scratch: Battle Swirl Cake

This is the first in my "Mix v. Scratch" project, wherein I make both a boxed mix and a homemade-from-scratch version. Challengers will be graded on the time taken to make them, the initial results, and side-by-side taste testing by me, my husband, and my co-workers and/or friends. Today's challenge:

Battle Swirl Cake

The box version is a Betty Crocker Chocolate Swirl Cake with Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

How I made it vegan: The box calls for 3 eggs, water and oil. To make up for the binding power of 3 eggs, I used three egg replacer eggs and used milk/acv instead of water.

Time: The box says it takes 10 minutes. If you take into account prepping the pans, preheating the oven, mixing it, and doing the swirl, it's a lot closer to 30 minutes.

Initial results: The cakes baked in the amount of time suggested. I cooled them until they were below room temperature. When I went to frost them, they started falling apart. I barely managed to get the second layer on top of the first before it completely crumbled in my hands. I was mostly able to patch it together with frosting, but it didn't look great.

My taste test: The cake was incredibly moist. It was also incredibly sweet. I could tell from the batter that it would be sweeter than the cakes I've been making. The frosting was also sweeter than what I'm used to. I think the combination of sugar in the two actually gave me a headache, and I still feel a little sick an hour after eating it.

The scratch version is the Marble Cupcakes with Thick Fudgey Frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Time: Admittedly, this took about twice as long as the mix. There are a lot more steps, and you have to actually get all the ingredients together yourself. Another thing that added time was that I did a recipe and a half to have enough batter for two 8" layers, which meant doing the mental math for the half while I measured!

Initial results: I think I overmixed the batter and/or overcooked the cakes! They seemed to bake a lot faster than I'd expected, so after 30 minutes (the cupcakes take 24-26 - it seemed a reasonable amount of time) the layers were already overdone. I could tell just by looking, and from taking the cakes out of the pans, that they would be dry.

My taste test: As suspected, the cakes were pretty dry. I also didn't think the frosting was particularly fudgey. It was much less sweet than the other cake, which was good, but the texture and dryness actually made me like the mix cake more (I'm ashamed to say). But I put this all down to my failure to properly mix or pay attention to my scratch cake.

The Verdict: A few of my co-workers had a bit of each cake. While one person preferred the scratch cake because the mix cake was too sweet, the others preferred the mix because the scratch was too dry. One of those preferred my scratch frosting to the tub stuff. Overall, I think the mix was preferred.

THE WINNER (yes, this was the best shot I got):


  1. That's so strange about the mix cake falling apart like that! I wonder what it was?

  2. You can buy Betty Crocker in the UK? (Not that I've been looking.) It's VEGAN?

    Dude, every day is a school day.

  3. @Mo - I'm not sure, but I'd guess that I just didn't use the right combination of egg replacer. If I were to use a mix again, I would probably use tofu or soy yogurt for at least one of the "eggs".

    @Vanessa - You can, and I'm 99% sure it is. I didn't see any obviously non-vegan ingredients, but there were a few E-numbers (!) that are on the fence. Unless I know for a fact that they're not vegan, I'm a shitty vegan and assume they're OK.