Most of the time I bake from scratch. I like the process of scooping and sifting. I like being able to adjust the amount of sugar, substitute one flour for another, use nutmeg instead of cinnamon. I like putting my own personal stamp on a recipe.
But sometimes a good cake mix is a godsend. And I love coffee cake. And it's been a long few months of back-to-back business travel. And I was tired. Which is why I decided to try Trader Joe's cinnamon crumb coffee cake mix.
I'm pretty sure I could have made a better coffee cake from scratch. The topping was a little sweeter than my preference. The cake had a tiny bit of that metallic aftertaste you always get with cake mixes. But there was something awfully nice about getting a cake into the oven without having to think too much.
The instructions were clear and simple. Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone; I peeled a ripe, beautiful red Bartlett pear and lay thin slices over the crumb layer in the middle of the cake. The pears softened in the oven and kept the cake moist without making it mushy. Soft, fluffy cake. Spicy, sweet crumb. Tender, soft pears. This cake didn't last long.
I'm not telling you to give up baking from scratch. Far from it. But if you're in the mood for coffee cake and you've had a long day, I think you'll like this mix.
Note: No one paid me anything to write about this cake mix. I'm happy to write for free about products I really like.