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Sweet Neecy's cake mixes are the best ever! I have tried all 3 kinds and each produces a fantastic cake.

JL, Cary, NC

 

 

 

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Preserving that homemade flavor

BY CLIFF BELLAMY, Writer, The Herald Sun

cbellamy@heraldsun.com; 419-6744

Annette Council has been around restaurants and food most of her life, and one of her fond memories is of watching her mom, Mildred "Mama Dip" Council, and grandmother make homemade cakes from scratch. Much of the process was by touch and feel and involved measuring and sifting flour, sugar and leavenings (baking powder, soda and salt).
The results of that painstaking process, which usually happened on Saturdays in the Council family, could be tasted Sundays, when the anticipated cake was finally sliced in the afternoon, Annette Council recalled.
That taste, and those memories, inspired Council to create a new line of cake mixe s that take some of the fuss out of the process but still preserve the homemade flavor she remembered growing up. "I have simplified the art of cake baking while preserving the made-from-scratch taste," Council said recently of her new product. The label and company are called Sweet Neecy -- a family nickname for Council. She has created three varieties of Make It Batter ... From Scratch mix -- original, chocolate and spice cake.

Right now, she is marketing the mixes in specialty food stores. Cliff's Meat Market in Carrboro and Nofo Cafe & Market in Raleigh have carried the mixes since November. Recently, Weaver Street Market in Carrboro and Whole Foods Market in Chapel Hill also began carrying them.
All the mixes contain "everything except your butter, milk and eggs," Council said. "To make a homemade cake, you have to sift your flour and your leavening together at least twice," she said, but that process already is contained in the Sweet Neecy p ackage. She advises that all the non-dry ingredients cooks will add to the mix should be room temperature (see sidebar for some more of her baking tips).

A cake that Council made from the chocolate mix got thumbs-up for authenticity from an informal taste test in The Herald-Sun newsroom. (After about one work cycle, only once slice remained standing -- and this was from a cake without any icing.)

Council, who still works at Mama Dip's, said the mixes are her way of carrying on her family's legacy of homemade Southern cooking. "That's why I knew when I went to make this cake, that I had to make it right," she said.

The challenge was making a recipe that could be duplicated by multiple cooks. It was also important that the recipe be simple and easy to follow and assemble. "I know I can do it," she said, but "I can't go by that because I'm used to baking." She had 20 or so different people bake the product to ensure the same results. She also has taste-tested the product at various locations.

The mixes are adaptable for those with a vegan or vegetarian diet, she said. The recipes also can be adapted for different ingredients. For example, the spice cake mix can be adapted to accommodate apples, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato or fresh peaches.

A Web site (www.sweetneecycakemix.com/) is currently under construction. When it comes online, cooks will be able to order mixes online and look up recipes, and get instructions for those with a vegetarian or vegan diet. The site also will carry recipes for various icings, and Council anticipates someday adding icings to the Sweet Neecy line.

ON THE WEB

For more information, visit www.sweetneecycakemix.com

"Thanks to my grandmother and mama, we ate some of the best cakes ever to be made in our town at our house on those Sundays after church. It was a rich experience, one that should be taking place in a ll households."

--Annette Council, writing about her new Sweet Neecy Make It Batter ... From Scratch

TIPS ON MAKING CAKES

Each box of batter mix can make:

(1) 10- or 12-inch Pound or Bundt cake (baking time, 1 hour)

(3) 9-inch round cakes (baking time, 25-30 minutes)

(1) 1- by 13- by 17-sheet cake (baking time, 25-30 minutes)

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