Some blogs are full of posts which start: Recently, *big company* sent me three pairs of expensive shoes / five bars of delicious chocolate / a free holiday ...
This is not one of those blogs.
But, recently, a company so small I'm not sure it really exists yet sent me a free cake mix, on the condition that I filled in a survey about it and took a few photos. Blogging about it was not a condition, but just in case the owner makes it to the big time, you heard it here first!
So the Hope Makes It Easy Matcha Cake Mix popped through my letterbox on my birthday (good timing to start) and the rather pretty package sat on my counter for a few days until I'd assembled the ingredients. Most cake mixes require a few extra ingredients, but this one needed milk, eggs and butter, plus cream and possibly white chocolate for the icing. Not exactly all-inclusive. On the plus side, it helpfully provided a cute origami cup for measuring the milk, a line to show you how much butter to cut off, and baking paper circles for your cake tins.
The instructions looked a little complicated, but were easy enough to follow once you got going. My little helper broke the eggs and mixed them with the milk for me while I melted butter, then we just had to tip in the bright green matcha tea powder and the sachet of dry ingredients and whisk it all up for a few minutes. Despite the weird colour, it did smell delicious.
Being an inveterate recipe tweaker, I baked the cake in a rectangular pan instead of sandwich tins, then iced half with buttercream because I knew my family wouldn't eat the recommended whipped cream topping. I forced a group of friends to be guinea pigs, and after they'd got over the shock of eating a cake that looked like spinach, they all agreed it was very nice. The only problem was that the sweet icing overwhelmed the delicate flavour of the cake.
For the other half of the cake I tried out the whipped white chocolate ganache from the instructions. Oh, that stuff was good. A few spoonfuls may have gone astray between the bowl and the cake. It still had a tendency to mask the green tea flavour, but the creaminess worked well with the light, fine-textured cake.
I wouldn't usually bother with cake mixes, but it was interesting to try a new ingredient - I never would have gone out and bought matcha green tea - and I was impressed with the quality of the finished product. So many extra ingredients are needed, though, that you would probably wouldn't pick this up if you didn't already bake, in which case you would be likely to already have a measuring jug and scales. This suggests it might be worth thinking a bit more about the target customer.
So thanks, Hope Makes It Easy, for the birthday present! It was fun to try and delicious to eat. And I will definitely be remembering that white chocolate icing.