King Arthur recently came out with a new product called Cake Enhancer. What is it and is it worth buying?
The King Arthur Flour Company describes its Cake Enhancer as a “miracle ingredient.” When added to cake batter at the creaming stage, it supposedly renders the crumb soft and moist and increases shelf life. The mysterious product contains rice starch, polyglycerol esters, and mono- and diglycerides—the same additives found in many boxed cake mixes and commercial baked goods.
Intrigued, we ordered the product, used it to “enhance” our favorite fluffy yellow cake, and compared the results with the same cake baked as usual. On the first day, the cakes tasted identical and shared the same soft, tender, and moist crumb. On the third day, tasters found the enhanced cake slightly more moist and tender than the unenhanced cake, and they rated it more favorably.
Here’s how Cake Enhancer works: Over time, the starches in any baked good will begin to retrograde, bonding together more tightly and becoming harder and firmer. As this happens, the starches absorb any available water in the crumb, turning it drier and tougher. The additives in Cake Enhancer significantly slow starch retrogradation, so the cake tastes better longer.
Our conclusion: King Arthur Cake Enhancer will help keep a three-day-old homemade cake tasting fresher, but in our experience, cakes are usually eaten long before they get that old. In most instances, there will be no reason to stir in this packet of additives.