Most traditional cakes are made with milk or eggs, so it’s normal for most people to assume that cake mixes (a pre-formulated cake formula) might automatically include those ingredients.
We have checked the labels of various cake mix formulas, and we’ve discovered that it’s not always the case, as some cake mix formulas are accidentally vegan. In fact, you’ll be able to note that several of these cake mixes lacking animal ingredients will call for ingredients eggs to be added later on.
However, as you probably already know, there are plenty of egg replacements, which means you’re able to use those cake mixes to produce a vegan cake without dramatically changing the recipe.
In this article, we’re going to cover the following topics:
- What cake mix is and how it’s made;
- What animal ingredients are normally used in cake mixes;
- Which cake mixes are vegan;
- Why the sugar present in cake mixes might not be vegan;
- Which egg replacements can one use to produce a vegan cake.
If you’re interested in learning more about these particular topics, feel free to continue reading as I’ll explain everything in detail below.
What is cake mix and how is it made?
A cake mix is a formulation of ingredients used to bake cakes.
For example, one cake mix formula by Fun Pack Foods contains the following ingredients:
Enriched malted wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Sugar, Dextrose, Soy flour, Wheat Gluten, Whey (milk), Sodium Bicarbonate, Whole Egg, Salt, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Soybean Oil, Artificial Flavor.
These are ingredients that you would normally use to bake a cake at home, but Fun Pack Foods packs everything into a single box/sacket so that people can skip the dough-making process and save time.
In factories, the cake mix is made in the same way we create dough at home – by mixing every ingredient in one homogenous body. Ingredients like milk or eggs which are naturally liquid are converted into a powder, so on many occasions, you’ll just need to add water.
What animal ingredients are usually present in cake mixes?
The animal ingredients usually present in cake mixes are the same ingredients that are used to create cake dough in the kitchen. For many people, this includes milk and eggs.
Indeed, a lot of cake mixes contain milk (in the form of whey) and whole eggs, so as a vegan, you need to search for alternatives that lack these ingredients.
Fortunately, alternatives exist, and while they may ask you to add ingredients like butter or eggs at a later stage (as you can see in the image below), you can always opt for the respective vegan alternatives.
Which cake mixes are vegan?
The brands I’m about to mention do not advertise themselves as being vegan, but rather as being dairy and egg-free, which means they don’t contain the two animal ingredients typically found in cake mix formulas.
Here are the brands I’m referring to (which are available on Amazon):
However, it’s important to mention that among these brands (except Simple Mills and Foodstirs), the others contain regular cane sugar, which is considered controversial in the vegan community.
Is the sugar in cake mixes vegan?
As you’re probably aware, there’s some controversy surrounding the use of sugar in products, not because it’s obtained from a plant-based source (sugarcane and/or beets), but because sugar suppliers often use a deashing agent called bone char to process sugar, more specifically, cane sugar.
Bone char is obtained by heating cattle bones at really high temperatures, converting them into a black powder that is then used to bleach sugar so that its impurities can be removed.
According to PETA, the bones are derived from cattle from countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan, which are sold to traders in Scotland, Egypt, and Brazil who then resell them back to the U.S. sugar industry. Read this article from PETA to learn more.
However, it’s important to note that not all sugar suppliers use this method to filter sugar, and companies can always opt for sugar suppliers that use alternatives such as ion-exchange resins and activated charcoal. But what really happens in a lot of cases, is that companies have a mixed pool of sugar suppliers, so their products will contain all sorts of sugars, including those bleached with bone char. In fact, that’s the primary reason why Oreo cookies cannot be considered vegan.
With that being said, this type of information is not disclosed on labels, so you should make an effort to contact companies to understand whether or not the sugar in their products is vegan.
What egg replacements should you use?
Some of the vegan-friendly cake mix formulas do contain eggs, but they often ask you to add a whole egg to the cake mixture. Since we’re vegan, we can opt for alternatives other than eggs.
Here are some of the options you can use:
- Apple sauce
- Mashed banana
- Egg substitute powders
- Flaxseeds (aka linseeds)
- Silken tofu and firm tofu
- Vinegar and baking soda
- Aquafaba (great substitute for egg whites)
For baking cakes, often the most recommended options are mashed banana, apple sauce, flaxseeds, and egg substitute powder.
Most cake mixes are not vegan because they contain ingredients like milk or eggs, but you can also find some exceptions, such as Simple Mills cake mix, which is free from dairy and eggs.
Some eyebrows are raised due to the fact some alternatives may contain cane sugar (which is not always vegan because of bone char), but it’s important to mention that some of these alternatives contain organic cane sugar, which means they’re not processed using bone char.
With that being said, to be on the safe side, the best option is to contact the respective companies/brands.
Is Betty Crocker’s cake mix vegan?
Betty Crocker’s cake mix does not contain any flagrant animal ingredients such as milk or eggs, but it does contain some controversial ingredients. For instance, Betty Crocker’s super moist cake mix contains artificial colors (red 40), which is associated with animal cruelty, primarily because they’re periodically tested on animals.
However, for most vegans (especially, those that are less stringent), Betty Crocker’s cake mix is vegan, because the so-called “flagrant” animal ingredients are not present.
Is Duncan Hines cake mix vegan?
The same can be said about the Duncan Hines cake mix, which the company claims to be dairy and egg-free, although it calls for those ingredients during confection.
Naturally, Duncan Hines’ cake mix contains sugar (which is, as we’ve seen, controversial), but it also contains palm oil, an ingredient that is, unfortunately, farmed in a way that is very destructive to both the environment as well as the biodiversity present in the zones where palm fruits are cultivated.
Since its cultivation consequently impacts animals, some vegans choose to avoid it.
Is Green’s cake mix vegan?
Fortunately, Green’s cake mixes are vegan-friendly, and they even suggest vegan alternatives you can use to substitute the animal ingredients that are called for during confection. In fact, you can find those suggestions on their official website.