Baking mixes are produced for the preparation of specific foods such as breads, quick breads, pancakes, waffles, cakes, muffins, cookies, brownies, pizza dough, donuts, pretzels, biscuits and various desserts, among other foods.
Ingredients in baking mixes may include flour, bread flour, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, sugar and salt, as well as others depending upon the food type.
The boxed cake mix has become a kitchen cupboard standby, relied upon for birthdays, special occasions, and even a lazy-day dessert in many homes. Before you turn up your nose when your mum offers to bring a box of cake mix to your house the next time she visits, consider the story of how the much-maligned time saver came to be in the first place.
The first invention recorded is back in 1889 when the owners of Pear Milling Company, launches in America Aunt Jemima just add-water Pancake Mix to sell off their surplus of flour to a dwindling market. The mix included hard winter wheat, corn flour, boiler water- treated phosphates, baking soda and salt. And let’s be honest it has been a wonderful invention, who hasn’t enjoyed this delicious invention?
Flour manufacturers then turned their focus to developing bread mixes to feed the troops. By 1948, however, men were back to work, and women who had been employed during the war were back in the kitchen. The metaphorical oven was preheated and ready-made cake mix rolled out into American stores.
The convenience that packet cake mixes provided, in combination with the availability of new-fangled appliances, made extravagant-looking cakes something that was expected of the American housewife. The promise of fail-safe cakes must have been appealing for families living in the image-conscious post-war period which followed two decades of poverty, joblessness, and war.
It is interesting that what was once developed as a product to save housewives time, has become a base for a thousand different types of culinary time-filling.
Initially this new invention was born after World War I, and it was developed by Corporate Mills, which had too much flour on their hands.
But it was until 1930 that a Pittsburg company called P. Dudd and sons applied fora patent for an invention related to a dehydrated flour for use in making pasty products.
In the application, Duff’s mix for gingerbread involved creating a powder of wheat flour , molasses, sugar, shortening, salt, baking soda, powdered egg, ginger, and cinnamon that the home cook could re-hydrate with water, then bake. Indeed, the company seems to have believed it had stumbled on the future of baking, and eventually brought the method it patented to bear on cakes, giving us what appear to be the first cake mixes.
By 1935, the sales of his first mix are steady and Duff acquired a subsequent patent, which requires the addition of fresh eggs to the bake. The company had informed the U.S Patent Office that it had made a major breakthrough, arguably the biggest, in cake-mix history, a cake mis that require the home baker to add fresh eggs. Duff stated that the housewife's and the purchasing public in general seem to prefer fresh eggs. He also included in this application mixes for white, spice and devil's food cakes.
With the outbreak of World War II on 1939, consumer cake mix development and distribution is put on hold in favor of creating dry mixes for the troops. Though the mixes have an infinite shelf life, due to the poor quality of powdered milk and eggs, they were widely avoided.
By the end of the 1940s, more than 200 companies were putting out cake mixes, with the lion’s share going to Betty Crocker or Pillsbury. Interestingly, while general Mills and Duncan Hines went the add-eggs route, Pillsbury stubbornly stuck to the just-add-water method and only phased it our later.
The evolution of cake mixes continues and in 1948 Pillsbury is the first company to launch a “chocolate mix” also including powdered eggs.
By 1950, the cake mix market was controlled by the food chemist Arlee Andre, inventor of Duncan Hines Cake Mixes, which were prepared just with fresh eggs.
The addition of oil into a cake mix, has been first documented in a mention that appeared in the New York Times at the time.
Since the 50's until now this industry has developed into new categories, considering different diet requirements, lifestyles an even beliefs. Gluten free, dairy free, egg free, sugar free, kosher, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo diets and so forth, are a new addition that need to be considered by food manufacturers and new ingredients had made their introduction in a more competitive and selective market that day-by-day are looking for a wow factor.
But it doesn’t matter how much the market has changed, we all have used at some point in our lives our favourite mix box, whether it is a box of pancakes, a cake mix, a cookies mix and so on, baking cheating for ones, a life saver for others, a super fun way to bake with our kids or a perfect solution for our lazy days, thanks to the Americans for this wonderful invention!