Bob’s Red Mill has always been a great purveyor of every grain and baking product under the sun, but more recently they have taken to combining those grains into easy to use baking mixes. Not one to be easily enticed by a baking mix, I find so much gratification in the full “from-scratch” approach, I was a bit intrigued by Bob’s latest endeavor, whole grain cake mixes. I do love whole grain flours … but could such creations, prepared solely with organic whole-wheat flours, hold up on the indulgence scale?
These days, I can’t bring myself to make two layer cakes when cupcakes are just far to easy to make, prepare, serve, and save for later. Unfortunately, I assumed that this mix would fit neatly into 12 muffin tins. I successfully overfilled my 12 tins, and still had enough to make a generously sized heart-shaped muffin (an extra tin I luckily had on hand!). Of course, sizing never affects taste or texture; they just took a few extra minutes to cook through, no big loss.
I went for the general instructions first, which used water instead of lemon juice, since my family isn’t huge on lemon. However, I decided to make a second batch daring the lemon juice, since the resultant cupcakes with the water were surprisingly mild. More like poppy seed cupcakes with a good zest of lemon added, but easy to serve to the lemon averse. Both ways were enjoyed, but I would go the lemon juice route for those who truly enjoy the tangy taste of lemon in their poppy seed cupcakes.
I shared these little cakes with my entire family, and the verdict as unanimous: Cupcakes – no, Yummy Muffins – yes. From grandma to my husband, everyone enjoyed them, but the consensus was that these were just a bit too hearty to qualify for cupcakes. They had a slightly coarser crumb, and they lacked that extra cake-like fluffiness. This certainly isn’t a bad thing in our circle. Grandma was thrilled to feel good about snacking on the leftovers for breakfast, while I enjoyed them as a not-too-sweet treat with afternoon tea.
(The first picture is actually of the second batch, once I better understood the larger quantity, and the second picture was the heart shaped muffin topped with homemade coconut whipped cream and delivered hot from the oven to my husband)
Ingredients: Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Brown Sugar (Sugar, Cane Syrup), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Unbleached Wheat Flour, Organic Vital Wheat Gluten, Organic Poppy Seeds, Lemon Powder (Freeze Dried Lemon Juice Concentrate, Maltodextrin, Silicon Dioxide, Natural Flavors), Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Baking Powder (Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Cornstarch), Cinnamon, Natural Vanilla Flavor (Sugar, Cornstarch, Vanilla Extract), Nutmeg.
I opened the cupboard to reveal this mix, and my German friend exclaimed in excitement. Once again, cupcakes were the chosen medium … really, we could hardly wait the modest 15 minutes for them to bake! Like myself, she is a true baked goods foodie. As she took her first bite she proclaimed with a smile that she could really taste the whole grains. She didn’t care what the label on the package was; she just knew that this was good quality food.
Like the Poppy Seed these swayed healthily away from cupcakes toward muffin territory. The texture was surprisingly light for a whole-wheat muffin, but still erring slightly toward muffin-ness. In terms of taste, they were a bit too sweet to call a muffin in my opinion, but a bit too hearty to call a cupcake. Since gingerbread isn’t always a super-fluffy endeavor, I do think that this hybrid could easily stand-in for its all-purpose competitor among gingerbread fans, while offering a sweet treat at brunch with limited guilt.
I think my only complaint was that these little cakes leaned more toward sweet than ginger. I do eat ginger by the loads, so my taste buds may be dulled a bit … but my husband who dislikes the potency of gingerbread devoured these cupcakes, so I think my analysis may be pretty accurate. While there was a definite spice influence, I felt the sugar component dominated a bit too much, and I would have liked the richness of molasses in the flavor a bit more. Nonetheless, hints of various spices emerged at random for glimmers of surprise and flavor.
If sharing this with other ginger-lovers I would probably spike the cake with tiny bits of crystallized ginger or the frosting with a little ginger powder. Realistically, they were just sweet enough to be served sans frosting, but for that indulgent b-day cake feel, there would certainly be no harm! I would avoid a glaze of pure sugar, and opt for a cream”cheese” style frosting with a touch of bite for contrast.
(The Heart Muffin pictured below was delivered to my gingerbread loving grandma … she was all smiles)
Ingredients: Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Brown Sugar (Sugar, Cane Syrup), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Unbleached Wheat Flour, Organic Vital Wheat Gluten, Dried Molasses (Molasses, Maltodextrin, Silicon Dioxide), Organic Ginger, Cinnamon, Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Baking Powder (Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Cornstarch), Allspice.
Vegan Note: I had some eggs on hand to use up, so I made these cake mixes as instructed with eggs. However, the package includes instructions for using an egg substitute of flaxseed for a vegan and egg-free cake!
Where to Purchase: Bob’s Red Mill products can be found in stores across the country, can be purchased directly from Bob’s Online Store, and tons of their products (including these two) are available on Amazon for a discount.