You know that girl? She’s the one at birthday parties who makes an offhand remark about how she isn’t “a cake person,” naming a string of more “sophisticated” desserts that are more worthy of her taste—I avoid her at all costs. The cake spectrum is broad, filled, and frosted with a million possibilities, topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting or layered between fudgy mounds of chocolate ganache. I’m obsessed with good cake, and it should go without saying that one of the keys to a delicious cake is the cake layers themselves.
Homemade cake is hard to beat, but in a pinch, you need a go-to boxed cake mix that you can rely on. Here, in our very own Southern Living office, we decided to make four different boxed white cakes to do a blind taste test and give our unbiased feedback.
WATCH: Classic Hummingbird Cake
This cake mix calls for melted butter instead of oil, which accounts for the rich flavor, dense texture, and sticky-moist feeling of the cake. Some of the editors thought it was cornbread at first glance and were skeptical as they reached for their first bite, but throughout the test, this cake was the one people kept nibbling on. The flavor was fantastic!
Staff quote: “If someone said they made this from scratch, I’d believe them.”
The prominent vanilla flavor in this cake is the classic “boxed cake vanilla” flavor that differs greatly from the dark vanilla extract used in a homemade vanilla cake. The light spongy texture of the cake and the generally sturdy structure would make it great for a frosted layer cake.
Staff Quote: “The texture almost reminds me of angel food cake, and I dig it.”
3rd Place: Duncan Hines’ Classic White Cake Mix
This cake mix calls for 3 egg whites to be beaten into the batter for 2 minutes (in addition to the oil and water). This is also the only cake mix that didn’t use egg yolks in the batter, and so the cake lacked the richness and structure that comes from a batter with yolks. The air beaten into the egg whites make the crumb of the cake very delicate and airy. After taking their first bite, someone noted that the cake was almost powdery and that it dissolved in their mouth. This fragile cake wouldn’t hold its structure under a layer of frosting as well as the others.
Staff Quote: “This cake would be good crumbled into layers for a trifle.”
4th Place: Betty Crocker Super Moist White Cake Mix
Across the board, the unanimous agreement was that this cake had the least flavor among the four. Compared to its competitors, its mild taste and light texture might be preferred for a cake that is being made to support the flavor of a rich frosting or a special filling. But by itself, we have to rank this cake last.
Staff Quote: “Ya know what, I’d make this cake when I want the frosting to be the star of the show.”