Ever wonder about a boxed mix you've seen in the store? Is it any good? Could it replace something you'd otherwise make from scratch? Welcome to Mixed Review, where the whole point is putting boxed mixes to the test! —The Mgmt.
Meyer lemons are prized for their thin skins, ample juice, sweet flavor, and lack of acidity. In many dishes they are preferable to regular lemons because they provide loads of citrus flavor without the lip-puckering bite. But would their essence really come through in a cake mix? Was there any actual Meyer lemon in the mix, or was it a misnomer? I put Dassant's Meyer Lemon Cake Mix ($6.99) to the test.
The Dassant mix was for a basic snacking cake: a homey, no-frills dessert baked in a square pan and topped with an (optional) lemon glaze. To prepare the cake I combined the mix in a bowl with two eggs, one cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Then I poured the batter into a greased pan and slid it into the oven. The prep work took less than five minutes, and I appreciated the fact that it required only one bowl and one spoon.
After 40 minutes in the oven my cake was done. While it cooled, I prepared the "optional" glaze according to the package instructions: two tablespoons of melted butter, one teaspoon of hot water, three teaspoons of freshly squeezed (regular!) lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and one cup of confectioners' sugar. Whew. The cake may have been a snap to prepare, but the glaze definitely felt like from-scratch cooking. I poured the glaze over the cake when it was still barely warm. Then I let it stand for a bit so the glaze could really soak in and the cake could absorb all the lemony juices.
What I liked best about the cake was its texture. It was incredibly moist and just a bit crumbly. The edges were lightly browned, almost like the corners of cornbread. It wasn't at all dense or bready, but it wasn't gummy or sticky, either. It was the perfect snacking cake consistency.
What I didn't like about the cake was its lack of lemon flavor. While the glaze was full of bright zingy fruit, the actual cake was a bit bland. The citrus taste was almost like an afterthought, a bit of zest tossed into the mixing bowl at the last second. A quick peek at the ingredients revealed that while the mix did contain dried lemon peel and lemon juice powder, they were at the end of the list and there was no indication if they were Meyer lemons or not.
In the end I would say that, while the Dassant mix gets big points for texture and a tasty glaze recipe, it lacked the fresh, citrusy pop of a really good lemon cake.
Note: This boxed mix was a review sample.
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