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Guests about to arrive and no time to make a cake from scratch? Birthday party imminent but lack the skill to make anything eye-catching? Help might be at hand. Cake kits - where you just add basics like eggs and butter - have been around for years, but they have the reputation of being a bit boring. Judy Yorke tries out those you'd be proud to pass off as your own.

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cake Mix Lakeland, PS3.99

This mix sounds adult and sophisticated. It takes about 30 minutes to bake and is all very easy and straightforward.

However the kit doesn't include the finishing touches - to make it look like the picture on the front, you need to make white chocolate buttercream, raspberry compote and white chocolate curls.

I'm not convinced people using cake kits will have the time or inclination - I don't!

Wow factor: That depends on what you do with the topping as it isn't included.

Verdict: One for the grown-ups - scores highly on taste.

Purple Rain Cake Mix Firebox.com, PS6.99

This is clearly American (the instructions mention measuring cups) but you can convert it on the internet.

Once you've made your mixture by adding water, oil and three egg whites, you split it into two bowls and dye one of them purple, using the food colouring that comes with it. The colour is fantastic - rich and vibrant.

You then alternately pour purple and white batter into each of two cake pans, creating a ring pattern.

The instructions rather leave you hanging - there's a mention of frosting but none is enclosed.

I found it a bit synthetic tasting, but the kids loved it.

Wow factor: Doesn't look much until you cut into it.

Verdict: Fun to make, looks great when you cut into it, but it is small.

Craft and Crumb Rainbow Unicorn Cake Kit (above) Yumbles.com, PS27.95

Beautifully packaged but luxuriously priced. There are 21 steps but don't worry, that's only because it's all explained so clearly. Making the two cakes is straight-forward and once they've cooled, you cut them in half and put them in the freezer to make them easier to ice. When you're ready to decorate, you mix the icing bag with butter and add the food dye, before joining the four halves together in a half-moon shape.

It all gets covered with icing and then you decorate it according to the instructions. It looks fabulous and the cake is delicious - really light and just sweet enough.

Wow factor: Extreme! Verdict: Being organic, it's very expensive and needs a lot in terms of additional ingredients - eight eggs, 700g of butter and some milk too. However, this is the tastiest and best looking cake of the lot.

Tesco Red Velvet Cake Kit PS1.70

Like all the others, you make two cakes and use frosting to sandwich them together.

This cake is a doddle to make and, unlike some, the kit comes with a packet mix of frosting too. Prep takes about three minutes flat. You blend the cake mix with two eggs and water, beat it, and split the mixture between two tins.

After it's baked and cooled, you make the frosting by mixing the second packet with butter, using it to join the cakes and decorate. You finish off by scattering the sprinkles. It's simple, quick and turns out to be tasty - light and not cloyingly sweet. Wow factor: It looks homemade and tempting.

Verdict: So simple to make and really nice, but maybe not one for a special occasion. Excellent value.

Betty Crocker Tempting Chocolate Cake Mix Widely available, around PS2.50 plus PS2.50 for the icing

The packet clearly says you need to add Betty Crocker chocolate frosting so I had to put some of that in my supermarket trolley too - no nipping out for extra ingredients with this one. The hands-on time is about five minutes - the hardest part is ensuring both cake pans are even.

Afterwards, you join the cakes together with the chocolate frosting and pile more of it on top. The cake is light, fluffy and richly chocolately.

Wow factor: Average.

Verdict: Stupidly easy and choc is always a crowd pleaser.

Candy Crush Rainbow Cake Baking Kit

Prezzybox.com, PS14.99

This is a really well thought out kit. You get four bags of cake mix, plus one for icing, as well as disposable cake tins, sweets and cardboard decorations. You even get a cake board to put it on.

This isn't a cake you can whip up in a hurry. Each cake mix makes a different colour layer so you have to make four separate cakes by adding butter, an egg and milk to each one. This creates a lot of washing up, making the whole thing quite time-consuming.

After baking, you layer the cakes, securing them with the buttercream icing, ice the outside and decorate it.

Wow factor: The "wow" is when you cut the cake to reveal the four different coloured layers.

Verdict: Perfect for a kids' party - and a good size too.

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KITS AND PIECES Judy gets decorating her unicorn cake
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Oct 19, 2017
Words:856
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