Saturday, April 5, 2014

Duff Goldman's Zebra Cake Mix (#ProductReview)

My mom's birthday party a few weeks ago meant I finally had an excuse to try out the other cake mix by Duff Goldman that I was graciously sent to review - Duff™ Zebra Cake Mix. When it comes to making zebra cake from scratch (like I've seen on so many gorgeous blogs), my results have been less than spectacular - the batter is the wrong consistency, or the oven time / temperature was off, or some other issue befell my would-be creation. Since I had found success with the Red Velvet Cake Mix, I had high hopes for this one - after all, how hard is mixing powder, oil, water and eggs?

Mom's Birthday Cake

Like the last mix, Duff's version of Zebra Cake batter is priced higher than it's other "marble cake" competitors - $3.49 on the official website (where you can also use the code NUMMYCAKE20 for a 20% discount) and more at places like Michael's. That said, the ingredients are more suited for cake 
While the cake eventually turned out beautifully, it wasn't without some problems along the way. The back of the box indicates the mix will make one 9" cake, while the website states "one package makes one 9"x13” cake or two double-layer 8" or one 9" round cakes". If I'm to believe the box, a single 9" layer seems like a bit of a rip-off for the cost. If I gauge portions by the website, that means needing four 8" or 9" pans when normally a mix for a 9x13" only requires two. That's a huge disparity in approximate yield. In addition, the box also states to bake the mix for 55 minutes. I have never baked a layer cake for longer than 30 or 35 minutes, regardless of how much sour cream, butter and milk is in there. 55 minutes is a recipe for a charcoal brick. I would strongly suggest the producers take a look at their packaging vs. their website and decide on some clear directions in order to avoid turning off potential repeat buyers.

Mom's Birthday CakeAfter making the batter, it's clear that a 9" springform pan is the best (and really, only) way to go about making the cake. I don't completely understand why they would suggest a 9x13", since it lacks the necessary depth to form proper rings of batter, but if you're not fussy about design you can technically fit most of the batter into one (with a cupcake or two left over). Using a springform pan is also more in line with the box's bake time of 55 minutes, although I still needed to pull ours out with about 5 minutes to go since it was beginning to bake a little too far. Like the last mix I made, the low protein, low gluten flour in the Zebra mix helped create and keep the tender,  fluffy texture of the finished cake - making it a delight to eat. Surprisingly, the crumb was also strong enough to sustain torting with a sharp serrated knife, although it did break apart when I tried to move it to the cake platter (nothing frosting can't fix!). After the party, leftovers only lasted about 3 days in the fridge before being demolished, but they were nowhere near dry or stale at that point.

Mom's Birthday Cake
I was also given a can of  Duff™ Chocolate Frosting to use with this cake. While it tasted fine, it was really nothing special to write home about, and given the price I'd rather buy a store-brand can that tastes exactly the same. Compared to my homemade Rich Chocolate Yoghurt Frosting mixed with Nutella that I used as a filling, the canned stuff was just boring.

Mom's Birthday Cake
All that said, is the mix worth it? For me, this one isn't - if I have to go the "box" route in the future, I'd rather buy two separate mixes (with clear directions and smaller price tags) and make my own "marbled" effect, not to mention buying a cheaper frosting to doctor up with liqueur, peanut butter, extracts or cocoa powder. For those looking for a more "gourmet" shortcut cake, I would definitely suggest a Duff™ Red Velvet Cake Mix and Duff™ White Mocha Cake Mix though - you won't be disappointed!

Mom's Birthday Cake

See all the products on Duff.com, and don't forget to use the promo code NUMMYCAKE20 for a 20% discount on all products!

*Disclaimer: I received the cake mixes and frostings free of charge from Gartner Studios, but was not compensated for any review whatsoever. All opinions and photos are my own.