~ Anne Byrn
Mixes to Masterpieces
Anne, the former food editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Tennessean newspapers, lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. According to Anne, it all began when she “wrote a story for The Tennessean in June 1998, sharing cake mix recipes my family had doctored." The reaction was so unbelievable… I asked readers to send in their own favorites. I received 500 recipes within one week and realized that this likely should be a book. Yes, it was a great idea, especially for summertime in the south. Take a box of cake mix — add some additional ingredients — and go from the ordinary to extraordinary."
Anne’s newest book, The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!, which is her sixth, updates some of the classic cake mix recipes and offers 160 new additions, including new cookies and brownies. As in the first book, all recipes consist of purchased cake mixes along with other supermarket ingredients. Over 90% of America’s home cooks use pre-packaged mixes. Anne makes the old saying "let them eat cake" so much easier!
We were delighted to speak with Anne who shared some expert tips with us:
Do you prefer glass or metal pans for baking?
Metal pans bake more evenly.
Can margarine be substituted for butter?
Yes, when baking a cake, margarine is OK but I prefer to use oil. However, when creating a buttercream frosting, it becomes more difficult. There really is not a good substitute for butter. (KosherEye suggested to Anne that she should consider trying Earth Balance, our favorite brand). Anne recommended that when a cake needs to be dairy free, use a glaze instead of a frosting.
So, can yogurt, soy cream cheese and soy milk be substituted for dairy products?
Anne said, Yes.
Tips from Anne:
How can I reduce the fat content in my cakes?
Anne recommends reducing fat in small increments. For example: to reduce fat in a cake with no pronounced flavor, such as yellow cake, try swapping out some of the oil with unsweetened applesauce, or any mashed fruit such as banana, or pumpkin.
Will you share some of your favorites with us?
For dazzling, delicious dessert presentation, use any of the layer cakes, Blueberry Muffin Crumble Cake or Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Ganache; for the mom-on-the-go, any of the Bundt cakes would work.
Anne also recommends the Chocolate Espresso Pound Cake and the Apple Cider Cake; "The secret is to start with good apple cider!" Sample Anne’s wonderful creations by trying her very moist and delicious Fresh Orange Birthday Cake — even if you are not celebrating a birthday.
And some exciting news from the Maestro of mixes:
Do you have a favorite cake mix brand?
"None are perfect. That is why I have been working on developing my own — a natural cake mix. It is quite a process. (KosherEye encouraged Anne to consider making it kosher!)
And a sensational scoop for our gluten free friends:
Sometime this Spring, Anne will be introducing her newest book, The Gluten Free Cake Mix Doctor (Workman Publishing).
Two important baking tips from Anne:
Be Organized: Read the recipe thoroughly before starting. Be sure that you have all of the ingredients on hand.
Be Temperature Aware: Of your kitchen, your oven, ingredients, frosting, eggs, etc. This includes knowing your oven. Over time, some ovens tend to bake hotter and need to be calibrated. Check the temperature with an oven thermometer.
Visit Anne’s website and blog at The Cake Mix Doctor.