I recently received a copy of The Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book: More Than 375 Delectable Cookie Recipes That Begin with a Box of Cake Mix to peruse and going over the book I found a couple of vegan friendly recipes. The newly released book is a second edition, originally from 2005, but now with over 200 more recipes added. And it is a big book of recipes – no photos but plenty of great sounding recipes. I don’t normally have cake mixes on hand but I can see the point – it is an easy no fuss way to have great desserts in under an hour.
But I did have one quibble. Which was my fault. As I mentioned I don’t usually buy cake mixes. The only ones I rarely pick up are Trader Joe’s ones that have nothing artificial added (or worse partially hydrogenated oils). But to get a mix I have to drive a bit and I wasn’t up to it. So I used a mix from the local grocery store. There are vegan friendly cake mixes from the big companies (although if one has issues with sugar being vegan it isn’t worth one’s time). But unless you can get a pricier “natural” mix (think $3-5) you will get a crap mix with a lot of bad stuff – think modified food starch, polyglycerol, artificial flavors and a lot of stabilizers. Many brands even add fake coloring and soy or corn products as well.
That is what $1 or so buys you. So to put it this way – your finished product will only be as good as the cake mix you buy. Lesson learned. Don’t be lazy 😉 While the finished bars smelled wonderful I could taste all the crap in the cake mix. Sigh. So in the end I tossed the bars, I just had a very metallic taste in my mouth (most likely from the baking powder in the mix which contained aluminum).
So please don’t take what I said above as a negative against the book! It is a solid cookbook. Just buy the all-natural cake mixes when you find them on sale!
Vegan Fruit and Seed Bars (from page 228)
- 18.25 ounce package white cake mix (look for a vegan ingredient list if desired, for best results use a natural mix)
½ cup quick cooking oats
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2/3 (or 10 Tbsp) melted vegan margarine (or butter for non-vegan)
- 1/3 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1 cup dried fruit (I used ½ raisins, ½ dried cranberries)
- 1 cup roasted sunflower seeds (naturally roasted, no MSG or bad oils added)
Preheat oven to 350° and spray a 9×13″ glass baking pan with cooking spray.
Whisk the cake mix, oats, cinnamon and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. In a medium mixing bowl whisk the melted margarine, applesauce and molasses together, add to the dry, stirring until just mixed. Add in the fruit and seeds, stir to combine.
Spread the dough into the pan evenly.
Bake for …. well …. the book said 18 to 23 minutes. Mine took 45 minutes! Was it the cake mix? I think so. It was one of those “premium moist” types. Reading the back of the box the bake time for the pan I was using was 40 to 45 minutes, so not a shocker. Needless to say I would start checking at 20 minutes. A toothpick should come out of the middle with moist crumbs but not be wet.
Let cool and then cut into bars.
FTC Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book for potential review.