summer

The $4 Boxed Mix That’s Always in My Pantry (I’ve Been Baking with It for 20 Years!)

published Jun 13, 2024
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Various brands of baking ingredients on store shelf in Village Grocer Store. Village Grocer is the coolest fresh premium supermarket in Malaysia.
Credit: TY Lim / Shutterstock

One of the first (and my personal favorite) signs of summer in southern Vermont, where I spend as much time as possible between May and October, is the early jewels of local strawberries. With a juicy sweetness that’s from a different galaxy than the packaged, fridge-hardened berries you can buy the rest of the year, summer strawbs are perfect to me. 

My family spends hours at the closest pick-your-own spot (Dutton’s Berry Farm, for those in the area) with stained fingers and cramping lower backs to harvest enough berries for several rounds of the season’s most anticipated dessert: strawberry shortcake.

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

Long-awaited and labored-for berries like these also deserve shining stars for their supporting roles in this all-American dessert. Aside from homemade whipped cream (for extra tang, add skyr), I’ve been turning to my trusty blue-and-white box of Jiffy baking mix for at least 20 years. This unassuming box turns out the butteriest, creamiest shortcakes to sop up all that beautiful fresh berry juice. 

If you make one showstopping dessert this summer, let it be strawberry shortcake with the best berries you can find and Jiffy mix biscuits (Psst: Toss in a few blueberries and you have a striking red, white, and blue dish for the Fourth). 

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

What’s So Great About Jiffy All-Purpose Baking Mix?

My family has kept a box of Jiffy in the pantry for as long as I can remember. As far as I can tell, the charming retro packaging hasn’t changed, and the reliable box is always there for a quick batch of pancakes or waffles. While I love the weekend effort and practice of making homemade bread, even sourdough, I’ve never found a scratch-made shortcake recipe that rivals a Jiffy biscuit. 

Jiffy mix produces biscuits that are delightfully buttery and moist with a creaminess that rounds out the tart fruity flavor of macerated berries. The shortcakes are fuss-free (don’t worry about shaping perfect circles; they’re going to disappear under a mountain of strawberries) and bake up nicely with a golden crust and pale, layered center. Not to mention, a 40-ounce box of the versatile baking mix costs less than $4

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

What’s the Best Way to Use Jiffy All-Purpose Baking Mix?

If it’s not yet clear, my favorite way to put Jiffy to use is to make shortcakes. (Though certainly not the only way I use this trusty mix; it’s also great for waffles, pancakes, and savory biscuits.) I follow the no-frills recipe on the back of the box and online, which calls for baking mix, butter, sugar, and milk. You don’t even need cold butter; it goes in melted, so there are no fancy butter-cutting tools or techniques required. 

The only key, as with all biscuits, is to avoid overworking your dough. As soon as it comes together — and even if it’s a bit shaggy and uneven — stop mixing, cut your biscuits, and bake them off. 

If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll sprinkle my cakes with coarse sugar after a quick egg wash to make them look bakery-quality. Split one open while it’s still just slightly warm, pile on those berries, and don’t forget a generous glop of just-whipped cream. 

Buy: Jiffy All Purpose Baking Mix, $3.78 for 40 ounces at Walmart

What baking shortcuts are you breaking out this summer? Tell us about it in the comments below.

This is part of The Summer of Lazy Baking, featuring our easiest-ever recipes and grocery store hacks for making this the most delicious summer ever.