I Need Honest Opinions/feedback Please Help!

Decorating By eriksmom Updated 19 Oct 2007 , 2:23am by mami2sweeties

eriksmom Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 2:56am
post #1 of 38

I am having quite the dilema here, and I would like some input so i can weigh my options.
I opened my cake shop about 2 months ago. Everything is going well, I'm staying pretty busy.
I have always been a cake mix doctor, as my specialty is decorating, not baking. People have always loved the taste of my cakes. Lately, I've been trying some scratch recipes, and so far, they've been pretty good. As we all know, scratch cakes are a bit more dense than mixes, even doctored ones. But the flavor is usually equivalent.
I've been getting some real serious calls from wedding consultants and the like. I'm thrilled about it. I also am doing my first bridal show in January. So here is my dilema. Do I keep on with the doctored mixes, which are tried and true and I know what to expect, or do I go to scratch, which tastes just as good but doesn't have that same consistency?

So far, I have found a chocolate cake recipe (scratch), that I refuse to part with. I absolutely love it. I am experimenting with white cakes that I can color and flavor, but so far, my favorite includeds shortening, which i don't care for as much as butter or margarine.

I recently had a repeat client who has had the "old" WASC, and tried the "new" recipe. She loved it, but her daughter thought there was something different and prefered her original cake (mix) better.

OH, WHAT DO I DO???!!!

Any input and opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Becky

37 replies
eriksmom Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 3:38am
post #2 of 38

I know i'm not supposed to bump, but I really need some input!

mthiberge Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 4:04am
post #3 of 38

I think that if it's not broken then don't fix it. Scratch is great for carving but for anything else doctored is consistent. Consistency is VERY important especially for repeat customers. If it was good once but dry the next time they may not come back a third time. On the other hand scratch is like mom made it. Different things are going to work for different people. I prefer scratch but don't always have time. If I was in your shoes from what you've told me, I would stick with doctored and save the scratch for carving...but that is just my 2 cents of course!

leily Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 4:07am
post #4 of 38

My personal opinion. Once you have a customer base try not to substitute with something similiar (crisco is a great example here) It just isn't the same, and if the first product is selling then don't change it.

I did a lot of experimenting with recipes/fondants/icings before I came up with my basic menu. I will continue to add to it as I get more recipes and more things available (like once I figure out how to do ganache it will be another option)

Depending on how many customers you have right now will be a judgment call on your part of what you want to change/add/remove. Personally I would add the cakes. I have two chocolate cakes on my menu, one is a modified box mix, and the other is a family scratch recipe. Both sell well but they have a different texture and different ppl like both.

mthiberge Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 4:10am
post #5 of 38

What kind of ganache are you looking for?? Poured or whipped?

indydebi Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 4:51am
post #6 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mthiberge

I think that if it's not broken then don't fix it...... Different things are going to work for different people.




I agree with the "dont' fix it". I'd say it's ok to add, but I wouldn't replace your tried and true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mthiberge

On the other hand scratch is like mom made it.



hahahaha!!! icon_lol.gif Careful not to fall into the Madison Avenue advertising gurus "inside the box" thinking! "The way mom made it" worked in the 60's when the mom's were a product of an era when everything was made from scratch but it's almost just a stereotype rather than a fact anymore.

My mom never made a scratch cake in her life .... and I'm almost 50 years old!

But somehow Madison Avenue hasn't kept up with this unusual phenomena of "modern technology"! Heck, I remember being in my 30's and seeing a commercial about "the taste of fresh churned butter like gramma made". OMG, that was in the 80's, which means they were referring to women of the 40's and 50's .... funny I don't remember seeing Beaver Cleaver's mom churning butter! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

kdannewells Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 5:06am
post #7 of 38

If I were in your shoes, I would keep both the doctored mixes and from scratch recipes. Everyone has a favorite, so why limit yourself? WHy not use your tried, and continue to test new recipes to see if you come up with anything better? Keep a journal of the recipes you use most often and weed out the ones you never use(mixes or from scratch). Eventually, you won't have both. Just keep the what the majority of your clients like and retire the others. icon_smile.gif

leily Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 5:16am
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mthiberge

What kind of ganache are you looking for?? Poured or whipped?




I will send you a PM so I don't get to far off of the topic.

jab Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 5:33am
post #9 of 38

I think you could offer both choices. Keep track of what your customers like and go from there. I use a box mix and add the extender unless they specify differently.

flowers40 Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 6:11am
post #10 of 38

Which is cheaper. I think when you are in the business of making a profit, your overhead should weigh in somewhere in there. I think when it comes to food, we eat with our eyes 1st, then our pilates. If it looks good, but is not consistantly good, you will probably have a problem there. If I could make the from scratch cakes just as good and as consistantly for the same amount of money and time, I would always go with scratch. But if when I added up the money and or time, and it was costing me in either one of those areas, but I was getting a consistantly good Dr'd cake mix cake, then I would go ahead a use the tried and true Dr'd cake mix. Just realize, you can't please everyone all of the time, so which is going to consistantly taste good for the customer, but consistantly give you a quality product for a reasonable amount of money and time.

emmascakes Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 7:40am
post #11 of 38

I don't understand your dilemma - are you saying you feel you have to either do scratch or box cakes and can't do both?

If you want to go for scratch then you need to find several fail safe recipes - you've got your chocolate cake but no others. So you're not yet ready to go for just scratch baking.

Do you feel bad about using box mixes? If so then start researching (i.e. baking and eating) scratch recipes until you've got a good enough stock to move away from them. If you don't mind using box then why not offer both and be upfront with your clients about their choices, making sure to price this so you don't lose out either way?

fmcmulle Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 10:47am
post #12 of 38

Hey Becky,
Congrats on opening your shop. I will have to take a drive over and check it out.
I'm with the other ones, "if it ain't broke don't fix it". icon_biggrin.gif
Take care
Faye

woodthi32 Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 11:20am
post #13 of 38

stay with what got you the calls. I would assume doctoring is easier and more economical. If someone comes along and requests a special scratch recipe, do it, and charge them!!! Stick with what has gotten you this far, and move as your customer base demands!

elizw Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 11:45am
post #14 of 38

CONGRATULATIONS!! i'm impressed with people that have the drive and determination to open a shop!!! best wishes!!

i've got scratch recipes for everything except a good white cake. i've experimented and have fallen short. i wanted to be able to say "everything i make is from scratch!" well, i would much rather say "everything i make is yummy!!" so, i would stick to what your customers like and leave it at that. most of my customers are repeat clients and i need to keep that base so i've learned not to alter, just add to their choices.

one thing i do with some of my customers is i tell them i'm experimenting and would like an opinion. i'll send them home with a mini loaf (2x4) size to try along with their order (if i have the time). they tend to be honest with their feedback and tell me whether or not they would order it next time.

again, best luck with the shop!

eriksmom Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 11:52am
post #15 of 38

wow, thanks all for all the feedback. this makes things alot easier. i guess i can stick with both, as there are some box recipes that are delicious (WASC). Like i said, both ways are good, and at least now i feel more comfortable offering a choice.
Thanks all!

kicky Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 12:04pm
post #16 of 38

I'm in England don't know if it's different here but i have never heared of a doctored box mix only the little boxes that contain everything you need to make 12 cup cakes. Just add water i think not even a egg.

I make all of my cakes from scratch i go to Costco once twice a month depending on how busy i am and buy all my individual ingredients. Eggs, flour, sugar, marg, and vannila extract. Then lemons coco etc. Or all my ingrdients for a fruit cake.

The only thing i don't make is my fondant because it's cheap enought to buy a 5kg box and so much less hassel. I have loads of repeat customers as well as referals and new. I would'nt change a thing of what i do. I just go with the flow and if some one want something different i make it.

One recepie i am missing is a good eggless cake from scatch. Have a banna one but not a plain mix.

Go with what you think is best for your business if your customers are liking it and are coming back and the mix you use is what's working stick with it. It dos'nt hurt though to keep experimenting to offer all that you can.

Your work is fantastic and you have guts to open a shop. I'm a long way from opening one.

Good luck with what ever you choose.

jibbies Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 12:20pm
post #17 of 38

I agree with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset. I have one scratch cake recipe that I use that gets raves (carrot cake) but the rest I use good ole Pillsbury.
Does anyone remember this? Back in the 90's one of the cake mix companies had a line of cake mixes that you soaked the mesh bag of stuff in before you added it the one I remember was the carrot cake mix, It was really good. Wonder why they stopped making it, oh well.

Jibbies

nicrysmom Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 12:33pm
post #18 of 38

for me there is no debate, stick with the tried and true, as long as you are happy with it why not???

tbittner Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 12:56pm
post #19 of 38

I agree to stay with what works, but keep trying to expand! Doctored box mixes have great versatility as well as all the different scratch options. If you are looking for a great white scratch cake I have had great consistency with the WBH white butter cake. I flavor it with different extracts (like cheesecake, yum!) and it works well for me. I believe it is listed here at CC in the recipes section as well as the WBH book.
I wish I had the guts to open a shop, congratulations!
Tracy

peacockplace Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 12:59pm
post #20 of 38

I was just wondering where the show in January is going to be?

MCook Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 1:36pm
post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by eriksmom

wow, thanks all for all the feedback. this makes things alot easier. i guess i can stick with both, as there are some box recipes that are delicious (WASC). Like i said, both ways are good, and at least now i feel more comfortable offering a choice.
Thanks all!




I agree with sticking with what works--and definately don't try out something new at a show. Congrats on your new shop--I'm jealous and happy for you!!
OK--there's a box mix for WASC????? Who makes it? Where do I get it???

mixinvixen Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 2:07pm
post #22 of 38

OK--there's a box mix for WASC????? Who makes it? Where do I get it???[/quote]

i think she means that the foundation of the wasc recipe is a box mix.

tasteebakes Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 2:09pm
post #23 of 38

I opened my shop n July. I have decided to go with doctored box mixes simply because I have a small amount of space (easier to store) and since it is just me, it is way easier to bake 12 doctored box cakes for the weekend than it is to bake those same cakes from scratch. At least, that's the way I feel because I am soooo not a baker. Definitely all decorator.
When I need an employee, my first one's the baker. I can't wait to come in and decorate and the cakes are all ready to go!

CarolAnn Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 2:53pm
post #24 of 38

I say stay with what you know works and add to that as you want. You need to have the base recipes you know are consistent and then work with what you might add as you go along.

sarahnichole975 Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 3:27pm
post #25 of 38

Ya know, I've debated this with myself as well. Trying to decide if I want to go with scratch cakes. I guess I feel a little guilty making boxed mixes. But I have come to the conclusion that as long as it looks and tastes good, people really DON'T care. I consistently hear, "that was the best cake I ever tasted!" The whole time I'm thinking "it's just a barely doctored Pilsbury mix." But, hey, my clients really do love it! So I'm going with the thought that "it ain't broke" myself. Because the last thing I'd want is to change up and then have people decide they don't like the new as much!

Congrats on your shop! I'm trying as well, so yes, I'm quite envious!

fondantgrl Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 4:38pm
post #26 of 38

Just keep doing what you have been doing.. you don't have to "disclose" things you don't want people to know. and they don't really have to.

they liked you for what you have done, so stay that way.. icon_smile.gif

nickymom Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 4:55pm
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahnichole975

Ya know, I've debated this with myself as well. Trying to decide if I want to go with scratch cakes. I guess I feel a little guilty making boxed mixes. But I have come to the conclusion that as long as it looks and tastes good, people really DON'T care. I consistently hear, "that was the best cake I ever tasted!" The whole time I'm thinking "it's just a barely doctored Pilsbury mix." But, hey, my clients really do love it! So I'm going with the thought that "it ain't broke" myself. Because the last thing I'd want is to change up and then have people decide they don't like the new as much!

Congrats on your shop! I'm trying as well, so yes, I'm quite envious!




Ditto what she & most others are saying........it cracks me up to hear my family & friends rave over my "doctored cake mixes"..........I just smile and say thank you when they tell me it's the best cake they've ever had.
The base is boxed but adding all the extra "special" ingredients to enhance all while being baked from a loving heart is all it takes to make my family & friends happy. icon_smile.gif

Speaking of how moms made our cakes; scratch or boxed. I thinks it's just the fact that MOM made them & that's what made them so good! I can follow my mom's recipes to a tee but for some reason they never taste as good as hers and that's because mom them.

nicki9774 Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 5:10pm
post #28 of 38

My opinion I think you should use both, the scratch is a specialty cake and your basic cake is your box mix. That's what I plan doing when I get my cake shop open. I think it gives you the best of both worlds. Wish you the best in you decision.

Nicki

lionladydi Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 5:55pm
post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahnichole975

Ya know, I've debated this with myself as well. Trying to decide if I want to go with scratch cakes. I guess I feel a little guilty making boxed mixes. But I have come to the conclusion that as long as it looks and tastes good, people really DON'T care. I consistently hear, "that was the best cake I ever tasted!" The whole time I'm thinking "it's just a barely doctored Pilsbury mix." But, hey, my clients really do love it! So I'm going with the thought that "it ain't broke" myself. Because the last thing I'd want is to change up and then have people decide they don't like the new as much!

Congrats on your shop! I'm trying as well, so yes, I'm quite envious!




This is something that I have never been able to figure out on CC. I repeatedly hear people say that they feel guilty for not using scratch cakes. I do not feel guilty at all using a box cake.......even ones that I don't doctor. If people like the taste of them, what is there to feel guilty about? I just don't get it.

I admire anyone who makes from scratch if that is what is best for them but I wouldn't do it just because it is "the thing to do." I guess it depends on what flavor someone wants and what they want to spend.

I made one for a lady not long ago who came back and quoted her grown daughter, "Well, it's about time you found me a REAL birthday cake with REAL birthday icing." All it was was a Betty Crocker cake mix with an extender and plain old buttercream icing. icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Diane

SusieHazCakes Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 5:58pm
post #30 of 38

I am very new to this, but have been troubled with the same dilemma, i.e., scratch v. mix. The WASC I've made several times everyone LOVED, but half the time I bake it, it doesn't get done in the middle. I've made a few scratch cakes that had great texture, but folks didn't like it as much because it didn't have the pre-packaged, preservative laden mushy taste. I donated a cake for a school cake walk. The school was in a posh neighborhood -- and therefore ususally quite PC -- and they wanted a list of ingredients for the cakes in the cake walk. I couldn't very well make the much-loved WASC because I'd have to list the ingredients from the DH mix and there is NO WAY I'm putting that list of chemicals on a cake I'm offering. I would love it if the Good Cake Fairy would send me perfect scratch white, yellow and chocolate cake recipes that I'd never have to doubt, but so far, that hasn't happened. So, good luck in your choices.

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