Editor's note: Today we have a celebrity guest reviewer - Russ's mom! It was her birthday last week and she wanted to write a review for us, so who are we to say no? Read on and enjoy!
Hi Trader Joe's Connoisseurs! We are Russ's parents, Steve and Kathy, and we have just returned from a month on the road in our new RV. Pennsylvania winters are brutal, so we took our first snowbird trip to Florida. While we were heading back to the snowy north, we stopped near Charleston, South Carolina for a couple of days. Seeing a Trader Joe's a couple of miles from our KOA, we offered to stop in and see if there was anything different Russ hadn't reviewed yet. There it was...an end cap filled to overflowing with boxes of Trader Joe's Blood Orange Cake Mix with Icing.
I must confess, our family is filled with cake snobs. For years, I have baked cake from scratch. Our daughter is a professional bakery chef. We analyzed texture, taste, crumb, and visual. At less than $4 a box, it was an easy choice to critique.
First, the visual. I’m not really into loaf-pan shaped cakes. But what was a bit disconcerting was the color of the batter. It was bright orange. They used vegetable juice for color, but it did look very artificial. I then tasted the batter. Now, don’t get all upset I tasted raw batter. I just turned 65, and it hasn’t killed me yet. There was a citrus tang at the end, but the flavor was not distinguishable. It could have been lemon, lime, or orange. Only the color said it was orange.
The baking directions were clearly written, and the cake baked right up as promised. An hour in the oven, 45 minutes cooling in the pan, then flipped onto a plate. The crumb was quite moist and the texture of the cake was like a pound cake. I stirred up the icing as directed (you only need one tablespoon water, don’t add two or the icing will be too thin). The orange taste of the icing, as our daughter put it, tastes like orange toothpaste. Very tart, not too sweet, but artificial. We all agreed that while we would finish what we had sliced for ourselves, it was not something that we would want to purchase again. Our daughter suggested cutting it into cubes as vanilla ice cream topper, it would help cut the taste a bit. Bottom line: 2 spoons.
Well, there you have it. Thanks, Mom! My lovely bride and I just had a chance to try the cake for ourselves, but had the added advantage of learning from our elders and at the advice of social media went rogue and prepared ours with blood orange soda instead of the recommended water. The outcome? Better than what was described here, but still not amazing, and could tell that, as is, the cake mix is a bit of a dud and not going to be a repeat purchase. Our young kids loved it, but not because they know any better. Time to make them a proper cake just like my mama has done for me.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Blood Orange Cake Mix with Icing: 2 out of 10 Golden Spoons
Bottom bottom line: Don't argue with Mom.