These are the three mixes we tested in our quest to find the best readily available chocolate cake

These are the three mixes we tested in our quest to find the best readily available chocolate cake

I am a woman who is very grateful for Passover with its bounty of gluten-free and dairy-free treats. Most gluten-free cake mixes use rice flour which is tricky to cook with as it tends to absorb flavors, requiring what always seems like an insane amount of vanilla extract. The potato-starch based passover mixes have the opposite effect. A small amount of flavoring leads to a big impact on the final result.

So after years of stocking up on the same brand, I thought that I should run a bake off and see which company really does make the best kosher for passover chocolate frosted cake. So for Easter dinner this year we had the Gluten-Free Kosher for Passover bake-off. Yes, it is ironic.

One word of warning for those of you who cannot tolerate eggs. Passover is a holiday where leavening is frowned upon. Only yeast is forbidden, but baking soda / powder is used sparingly. These cakes get a lot of their lift from the rather long time that the eggs are beaten (four to six minutes on medium…seriously). You probably can use egg replacer, just know that you will definitely have to add more leavening to the mix.

I decided to test three brands, Manischewitz, Streit’s and Gefen. Each mix made one single layer chocolate cake that probably serves about six people as long as none of them are teenagers. I doctored all mixes in the exact same way. Manischevitz claims that its cake serves twelve, but no one I know would be satisfied with 1/12 of that cake. It came with its own pan, which was actually pretty small and the cake overflowed a bit.

I doctored all three mixes in the following way.
I added 1/2 tsp instant coffee to add depth and bitterness and because its easy to find kosher for passover. I always found these cakes too sweet and the coffee takes the edge off.
I beat the eggs first, then added the oil and the water to make an emulsion and then I added the mix. The box instructions are different. I have had better experience combining the wet and then adding the dry.
I mentally correcte for the mistake I know is on the box of Gefen cake mix. that mix says to mix the frosting with six tablespoons of water. This does not work. However, six TEASPOONS of water makes a nice, if somewhat runny, icing.
I made the mixes on the day before Easter and then brought them to easter dinner where they were taste tested by our entire group of seven.

We had a clear winner and it was the Gefen cake mix. Imported from Israel and poorly translated, there is a reason that it sells so well each year. The cake was moist and rich with chocolate flavor. Our guests kept the leftovers. The Manischewitz was also good but a bit drier. It has a more traditional frosting. The Streits was the least favorite mix for our group. It was not chocolatey enough and the pan we used, thought recommended, was too large and the cake got a bit dry.

So next Pesach when you start looking for a nice cake for your gluten-free guests, know that the Gefen cake was a hit with people who are neither gluten-free nor stuck with Passover mixes. It held its own compared to regular cake mix.

And that is pretty impressive.

And no, I don’t get anything from any of these companies.