9/4/14

The Boxed Cake Mix Dilemma

As other home cooks know,  package sizes often seem to shrink before our eyes in the grocery store. Coffee was once commonly sold in 1 pound bags, but now those bags may only hold 11.5 ounces. Few grocery items are exempt from this shrinkage. In most cases this kind of downsizing just causes us to sigh and shake our heads, but in others it can be downright annoying, especially when it comes to items that can affect the outcome of recipes.



One of those items the food industry has seen fit to downsize is boxed cake mix. The brand of cake mix I currently buy is typically sold in a 16.5 ounce box. This new size is no problem for someone who will strictly follow the directions on the package. Big problem, though, for the person who will use the mix as an ingredient in a recipe that specifically lists an older 18.25 ounce box of cake mix. That much change in the size of any ingredient can negatively alter the outcome of the recipe.

I have a number of recipes that make use of a packaged cake mix, and they can be very convenient on days when I need a quicker version of a good dessert. I do prefer to bake from scratch, but I'm no food snob; I do take short cuts. A person would have to live under a rock to have not been exposed to some great sweet creation that had its beginnings in a box of cake mix. Most of the recipes in my files were written in the day when cake mixes were bigger, so my recipes are no longer accurate. My solution to this issue is to keep a box of cake mix in the freezer to make up the difference when I need to boost the size of these shrunken cake mixes.

Every "new" 16.5 ounce cake mix needs 1.75 ounce from the extra box of cake mix to equal the "old" size. If it sounds like too much trouble to weigh out 1.75 ounces of cake mix to add those supplemental ounces when needed, don't worry. You really don't have to drag out the scales every time, just measure out 1/3 cup of cake mix to approximate the missing 1.75 ounces.

1.75 ounces dry cake mix = approximately 1/3 cup

This addition can prevent changes in the outcome of a recipe and in a worst case scenario, can keep a recipe from being ruined. 

I'm sure there are plenty of other products out there that fall into a similar category where downsized products have caused problems with recipes. Does anyone have one you are willing to share?

4 comments:

  1. WOW I never realized this, thanks for pointing it out!! I usually bake from scratch too, but have several favorite recipes that I use a box mix for too and I'll have to pay attention to the packaging more now!!! Thanks for the tip!!

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    1. Yes, Maria! It's one of those things you don't expect will change, but when it does it throws the whole recipe off. Thank goodness it's an easy fix!

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  2. It is frustrating, Anita, when the companies change the weight. Thank you for pointing this out and for the easy solution.

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  3. Yes, Kitty it is frustrating! I also have trouble interpreting some of my recipes in the "community" type cookbooks that may call for a can or package of some product, but don't list the size.

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