Product Review: Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Mix

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m moving to a new apartment in under two weeks. In preparation for the move, I’m trying to clear out my freezer and cabinets as much as possible . . . which led to me finding this box of cake mix that I’d pretty much forgotten I’d bought. So yesterday I decided to whip the cake out and bring it into work with me today, much to my coworker’s delight! Everyone loved the cake and assumed it was completely homemade, so that’s a definite win in my book. Read on for the step-by-step process of making this “box cake” to see the steps involved. I think this is a great item to have in your cabinet for those last-minute cake needs!

The box contains two bags of mix:

The one on the left is the topping and the one on the right is the cake batter. In addition to what comes in the box, you will also need milk (or water), butter, and an egg to make this cake.

The first step (well, after setting the oven to pre-heat) is to butter the cake pan:

As I was buttering and flouring the pan I had a total flashback to prepping cakes with my maternal grandmother — it was kind of shocking how intense the memories were! I learned most of my cooking skills from my dad, but baking definitely came from my grandmother. I remember many a holiday prep where she sang as she showed me how to properly flour a pan or beat a cake . . . speaking of which, I think I’m going to do a quick how-to video for buttering and flouring a cake pan, as I think my method is very straight-forward and quick. I have a buddy who’s a videographer who’s offered to help me produce some cooking videos, so stay tuned for that!

Anyway, I digress. After you butter and flour the pan, you quickly mix up the batter:

I quite liked how the instructions not only told you not to overmix in this step but actually said to only mix for 15 seconds if using a stand mixer. I think that’s brilliant because most people using a box cake mix are probably not expert bakers and so “don’t overmix” probably means next to nothing to him/her. Giving a specific time drives the point across very nicely!

That said, I thought the instructions were missing one helful bit of information: While the butter needed for the batter and the topping are given in separate¬†measurements, which is good, if I were the one writing the ingredient list I would also have specified that the butter for the batter is to be melted while the butter for the topping should be refrigerator-cold and cut into small bits. If you know this upfront it’s easier to get everything set up before you actually start mixing things up!

After the quick mixing, you pour the batter into the pan and smooth it into the corners:

The instructions give you two options: put all the crumbs on top or put a layer of crumbs inside. I went for the simpler “all crumbs on top” option so all the batter went into the pan first. Next I poured the topping bag into a bowl and put the cut-up butter on top:

And used my fingers to work the butter in until the whole thing was nice and uniformly lumpy:

The very last step is to put the topping on top of the cake batter in the pan:

And when you have it all on there, smooth it out a bit so it’s evenly distributed:

Then pop it in the oven for about 45 minutes and that’s it!

The resulting cake is moist, fluffy, and delicious:

I highly recommend this “box cake” for the next time you’re in a rush or haven’t planned ahead! Or actually, anytime really. It was that good!


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