I have to be honest, for just over 20p a packet I wasn’t holding out much hope for the Sainsbury’s Basics Sponge Mix (22p) or Morrisons Savers Sponge Mix but nonetheless I was keen to see the results. Some of my harshest critics are my colleagues – they’ve eaten enough of my cakes over the years to know what’s a hit and what’s a miss.
For those who aren’t that confident when it comes to baking, these mixes are absolutely all you need to make a cake. Although a quick glance in the ingredients listing I see a few I’ve never heard of, let alone pronounce (Diglycerides and Glucono Delta Lactone) and there’s a warning that the mix could contain nuts.
All that’s needed for each packet mix is a medium egg and 5 tablespoons of cold water. A bland Victoria sponge wasn’t what I was after so I experimented by attempting a rainbow bundt. I used three packets, two with colours (bake-safe pink and lilac). Following the instructions I mixed the contents and poured all three into the greased bundt tin. Baked in a fan oven at 180C it took 35 minutes to bake before the skewer came out totally clean.
The cake looked great, but it’s all about the taste. The verdict wasn’t great but not a total write-off, generally it was felt to be a little on the dry side, although the sponge was light, a few said it was “tasteless”. I think this would be better if it was actually made into a sandwich (as suggested on the packet), with an added teaspoon of real vanilla bean or a scraping from a vanilla pod. That, with a good slather of seedless jam and a nice dollop of buttercream, all finished off with a shower of sugar would transform the mix. For kids parties these would turn out perfect fairy cakes with icing or a swirl of chocolate butter cream piped on top.
What I think we all agreed was they you’d be hard pushed to buy a home-made sponge, enough for 6, for under 70p. I’ve also written up Part II, baking the mix as the manufacturers suggest – the results, compared with a home-made sponge are surprising.