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Right – shop bought cakes – what are your options? No, don’t cover your eyes in disgust. Even I, lover of everything homemade and delicious, believe there IS  a place for shop-bought cakes (decent ones) in our lives. Whether its because you need to make a tiramisu, trifle or cake pops and need some perfectly serviceable cake or because you just don’t have the time to bake – there are some good options out there.

Generally I’ve found that anything out of Waitrose (bless them they can do no wrong on the cake front – their cookies though are actually horrible so steer clear of those!) is a fantastic option and tastes almost as good as homemade, which is high praise indeed.

But Waitrose cakes are expensive (£2.50 – £12) at which point it starts to make more economic sense to make a cake… so what options are there out there for supercheapskates like us?

In the name of research, I sampled a budget option – McVities lemon cake which costs £1 (on offer or more normally about £1.35). I tried the lemon variety but they also do chocolate and fruit cake.

Good points

  • Price – at about £1, this cake is less than a third of what it would cost you to make a homemade version
  • Lovely crunchy sugary sprinkles on top – I’m a sucker for those things
  • Considering its shop bought, it actually tastes okay
  • No hydrogenated oils (don’t eat anything that has this on the ingredients list!)

Bad points

  • Although it costs about a third of a homemade cake, it tastes about a third as good…
  • Ingredients also include beta carotene, xanthum gum and potassium sorbate, none of which I can recall putting in my last homemade lemon cake!

Overall – I gave the McVities lemon cake a rating of 6/10 – not a bad shop bought option if you don’t have time to bake your own and certainly a MILLION times better than the horrible Tesco Madeira cake that I bought to make my poor cake pops.

What shop-bought cakes have you found that actually taste decent? Are there any budget gems out there I should know about?