[This review was written by NFCA volunteer Annsley Klehr, a mom, teacher, and owner of Gluten Freedoms, a gluten-free consulting business.]
As usual, I was keeping my eyes open for new gluten-free products when I stumbled upon XO Baking Co. XO Baking Co. makes gluten-free baking mixes that range from a multipurpose flour blend to cookies, waffles, corn bread, brownie, cake, and frosting mixes. Not only are XO Baking Co. mixes made in a certified gluten-free facility by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), but they are also certified kosher (United Mehadrin Kosher), vegan, all natural, free of trans fats, modified ingredients, and artificial colors or flavors.
The company is the creation of Lindsey Deitsch, a lover of cooking before she was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2009. Out of culinary school, she never thought she could compete with all the other bakeries and products on the market until her life took her gluten-free. She was determined to find the perfect, wholesome blend of flours so as not to lose their gluten-y appeal. (This might not come as a surprise knowing that she is a certified health and nutrition coach, too.)
Her brother-in-law always called her family the “cake family,” and Deitsch was convinced she could still live up to that standard even with gluten-free on the horizon. Perfecting her products has ranged from weeks to months, with friends and family testers and her faithful karate studio. Once Deitsch believes she has created the perfect blend, she bakes it over and over again.
I figured I’d test her products, too, to see if they lived up to her promising standards! I decided that XO Baking Co. cake mixes were the perfect solution to the growing number of attendees to my daughter’s 3rd birthday party and my increasing level of stress attempting to make everything from scratch. Mixes, I thought, would make my life a bit easier. I was right!
I made the mixes into mini-cupcakes the day before the party, and went ahead and prepared the icing, too. However, I chose to ice the cupcakes a few minutes before the guests arrived for better success in the transport of my baked goods. Vanilla Cake Mix made 50 small to mini-sized cupcakes and the Chocolate Cake Mix made closer to 60 for a total of 110 altogether. I iced both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Mixes. I had enough to top all my cupcakes and lots to spare. The cupcakes were a HUGE hit with my 40+ attendees, and I came home with less than 10 cupcakes in hand.
I found the packages super easy to navigate, minus a bit of confusion on the Vanilla Cake Mix where I did not seem to immediately understand what I was alternating ingredients with. Once I figured that out, it was smooth sailing. The vanilla cake batter was thick and delicious. I realized that I had not made a vanilla cake or eaten vanilla cake batter since being diagnosed 7 years ago! This was really a taste of heaven. The chocolate cake mix was more liquidy, but I was prepared for that because it was noted on the package.*
I am a vanilla goddess to begin with, but I obligingly sampled both. The chocolate cupcakes were moister than the vanilla, but they both had that sponginess that is often missing in gluten-free baked goods.. Not a single guest knew the difference! My one friend noted, “I haven’t written to you about the cupcakes, because I scarfed them down at [the] party. They tasted good to me! I tried all of them . . . but truly, to me, they all tasted good, with normal textures, color, etc.,” which proves how incredibly authentic these gluten-free cupcakes tasted. The creamy and inviting icing just melted in your mouth.
The frosting whipped up rich and creamy, as promised on the outside of the packaging. I found the chocolate icing to spread easier than the vanilla, so perhaps I should have added some more liquid to the vanilla batch. I had no trouble icing the vanilla cake with the thicker vanilla icing, but the chocolate cake was a bit more delicate and took a finer touch with the thicker vanilla icing. The chocolate icing glided smoothly onto each cupcake, regardless of delicateness.
I would say that just on personal preference alone, I favored the vanilla on vanilla, but by the looks of the crowd and what was hardly left, chocolate seemed to be the bigger sell. The cupcakes were a testament to what my childhood palate remembers. They held up to Deitsch’s promising standards and I will definitely use these mixes again..
A special thanks goes to Lindsey Deitsch and her wonderful XO Baking Co. for providing me with samples and sharing her story with me. To order Gluten-Free Baking Mixes, visit XO Baking Company online.
*Note: That although both mixes are dairy-free, I used butter and/or milk to make them. They packages offer dairy-free substitutes, but my review is of the dairy-containing version.