Do I Avoid The "do You Use A Mix" Question??

Business By jessieb578 Updated 2 Jul 2008 , 3:07pm by FromScratch

-K8memphis Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 8:26pm
post #91 of 267
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Originally Posted by MaisieBake

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What if it's a competitor at a bridal show wanting to sway business in front of customers? Because the answer can adversely and unfairly profile my business and therefore hurt my livelihood. Declaring either way can hurt you depending on the feelings of the person. Why divide your market?



Flip side, why not stand behind your product?

If you think that what you're doing is good, defend it honestly.

Do you think that your customers won't buy from you if they learn more about what they're buying?




Because there is a prejudice out there that's at least fifty sixty years old or older. That if I'm running a business I don't have the will nor the resources to resolve.

You used the word defend--good word. There is no time or energy to take on one unnessessary fight when you are running a business not an itota of time or energy. Btdt.

It clearly influences potential customers.

Of course I stand by my products.
But I ain't standing there stupid and neked either. icon_lol.gif

lepaz Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 8:43pm
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OK, I don't sell cakes but from a "buyers" perspective (and this is just me), I really don't care how or where the cake is coming from


So because you don't care about it I shouldn't?

We've had decorators in CC not care about their cat licking the cakes, as long as they re-ice them so the tongue marks don't show. So maybe none of us should care about that either?

It's your business-- do what you wish. But don't lie to your customers. If someone asks, answer.




I never said you shouldn't care, that's why I said "this is just me", because someone always takes it out of context. Everyone has and is entitled to their own opinion and we are not talking about cat's licking cakes, we are talking about a box, whether or not to have it out for the public to see. She needs to do what feels right for HER, not me, not you, her.

Doug Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 8:45pm
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my original snappy comeback post was intended a retorts for a very special subset of customers mentioned by a previous poster....

the snobby doyen dilettantes who fancy themselves ever so "cultured" and get all snooty about things having to be ever so "original" (somehow the image of Eulalie McKecknie Shinn and the Pic-a-Little Ladies from The Music Man and Margaret Dumont of Marx Brothers movie fame when I envision these people)

I love it when you watch a cooking show that show how the famous chef _____ cooks. Hmmm....I sure see a lot of prepackaged ingredients going into those dishes. Granted, they may buy all fresh, organic, local grown produce and I have to settle for what WalMart has which might (is) days old and a bit past it's peak. It's still edible either way and more affordable to me the WalMart (tho' I prefer Aldi) way.

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Originally Posted by jkalman

I love you Doug, but your whole schpeal was totally off point. It's not about asking the artist if they grind their own pigments to make paints.. but asking if they used a paint by number picture or a blank canvas to create their art. Or asking the builder if they built a house using a pre-fab pattern where they just put side A next to side B and attach them you have a house or if they took actual plans and built a home piece by piece from the foundation up. Both can be beautiful.. but not the same. One option has a lot of the work done for you and the other takes more patience. Which is better??




one of my dreams is to own a big ol' timber framed home.

now, do I have it stick built or do I buy it prefab?

con$idering the dollar$ involved in $tick built, thank$, but I'll go prefab.

and interestingly, prefab homes are often BETTER built than stick built for reasons too numerous to discuss here.

----

possibly a better response would be when asked if scratch or mix:

Why do you ask?

then respond accordingly.

I flat out tell clients before we even get that far that I do not and will not accommodate any "special needs"

given that so many of the products we use beyond a possible cake mix can themselves contain allergens, preservatives or things that individuals might be sensitive to, it becomes almost a moot point to hassle over mix vs. scratch.

rather, we need to get the customer to focus on the end product. The taste and the quality of decoration.

keconnell08 Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 8:48pm
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I buy the full sheet cake sized mix from Smart and Final. They have white, choc, and vanilla. You can keep this mix in containers and call it "premeasured dry ingredients" and can say its a professional mix if they ask.

I just weight out the 18.25 oz like the box and then Dr. it.

MaisieBake Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:02pm
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the snobby doyen dilettantes who fancy themselves ever so "cultured" and get all snooty




Uppity women! That's so lovely to hear from a man in a group of women.

If you want to talk about all this in terms of class issues--and that's where you're going, Doug--this discussion is going to become very uncomfortable very quicky.

indydebi Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:03pm
post #96 of 267
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Originally Posted by Doug


the snobby doyen dilettantes who fancy themselves ever so "cultured" and get all snooty about things having to be ever so "original" (somehow the image of Eulalie McKecknie Shinn and the Pic-a-Little Ladies from The Music Man and Margaret Dumont of Marx Brothers movie fame when I envision these people).




How sad to realize that only a handful of us oldies on here will understand those references!! icon_lol.gif

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Originally Posted by Doug


and interestingly, prefab homes are often BETTER built than stick built for reasons too numerous to discuss here.



As hubby and I sit here discussing this thread, I had to laugh and interrupt his dissertation on stick-built vs. pre-fab to read your comments to him! icon_lol.gif He also offers "If you ask a contractor 'do you mix your own concrete or use a mix?', he's gonna look at you like you're nuts!"

Hubby also wants me share with y'all ... the REAL question is "is your cake good?" He offers his experiences with family reunions and work pitch in's where people brag on "I made this from SCRATCH!" and he says "....and it tastes like sh*t!"

As I've said before .... it's not whether it's mix-or-scratch .... it's the talent of the baker. If you can't bake, then it's doesn't matter what you use, it's gonna taste like crap.

indydebi Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:08pm
post #97 of 267
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Originally Posted by MaisieBake

If you want to talk about all this in terms of class issues--and that's where you're going, Doug--this discussion is going to become very uncomfortable very quicky.



Unfortunately, it IS women who tend to have "the attitude" about all of this. I rarely hear men debating this issue. See my previous post (about page 4?) on why it's an issue to start with ... because women looked upon their culinary skills as a status thing and their greatest tool to "ketch a man".

As I've said a number of times, women are their own worst enemy.

It's probably why I have more men friends than women friends.

-K8memphis Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:09pm
post #98 of 267
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Originally Posted by MaisieBake

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the snobby doyen dilettantes who fancy themselves ever so "cultured" and get all snooty



Uppity women! That's so lovely to hear from a man in a group of women.

If you want to talk about all this in terms of class issues--and that's where you're going, Doug--this discussion is going to become very uncomfortable very quicky.




But that's the point. It IS a class issue maybe not with the exact people Doug mentioned but it is a class issue. It's like a jr high school issue.

I think the majority of us would agree that it matters not at all in the grand scheme of things but it still is a definite factor influencing many many business' some who make millions of dollars a year. It's irrefutable.

It's the emperor's new clothes somehow--both scratch and mix.

And if we each one of us don't let the discussion go downhill it won't go downhill.

There's uppity men too.

Doug Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:14pm
post #99 of 267
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Originally Posted by indydebi

I rarely hear men debating this issue.




we've learned to keep our mouth shut.....

that or too busy stuffing it w/ cake!

Doug Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:23pm
post #100 of 267
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Originally Posted by k8memphis

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Originally Posted by MaisieBake

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the snobby doyen dilettantes who fancy themselves ever so "cultured" and get all snooty



Uppity women! That's so lovely to hear from a man in a group of women.

If you want to talk about all this in terms of class issues--and that's where you're going, Doug--this discussion is going to become very uncomfortable very quicky.



But that's the point. It IS a class issue maybe not with the exact people Doug mentioned but it is a class issue. It's like a jr high school issue.

I think the majority of us would agree that it matters not at all in the grand scheme of things but it still is a definite factor influencing many many business' some who make millions of dollars a year. It's irrefutable.

It's the emperor's new clothes somehow--both scratch and mix.

And if we each one of us don't let the discussion go downhill it won't go downhill.

There's uppity men too.




ok....drop "doyen" and then that part applies equally to both sexes.

add references to ---- any stuffy butler and...

Hmmmm.....can't for the life of me, with the exception of Prof. Henry Higgins (Pygmalion, My Fair Lady --- love his mother's retort when he shows up unexpectedly: "Perfectly DREADFUL surprise!" -- even his own mother can't stand him) come up w/ male embodiments of "uppity" beyond the classic butler.

sad to say, but even in the mass media, the image of "uppity" is almost always portrayed/personified using a woman --- I wonder why.

---

as for class issue....

well dilettantes cut across all classes.

you can have NASCAR ones

you can dirt bike ones

you can have redneck ones

opera/ballet/symphony ones

theatre ones (oh don't I know that one!)

snobbery is found in all classes.

----

it's more a simple --- I've got to find some way to feel superior to and dismissive of "you"

that knows no class

it is classless

indydebi Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:33pm
post #101 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug

it's more a simple --- I've got to find some way to feel superior to and dismissive of "you"

that knows no class

it is classless



Doug, you are one class act! thumbs_up.gif

Doug Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:36pm
post #102 of 267
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Originally Posted by indydebi

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Originally Posted by Doug

it's more a simple --- I've got to find some way to feel superior to and dismissive of "you"

that knows no class

it is classless


Doug, you are one class act! thumbs_up.gif




icon_redface.gif

and you are too! thumbs_up.gif



(well, what do you expect from a drama teacher! --- tho' temporarily "class-less" for the summer! icon_rolleyes.gif )

NikkiDoc Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:42pm
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I agree Lutie. I still don't think the mix should be advertised or openly visible but if it comes up, let the client choose. Be velrsatile, agreeable and be able to do both scratch and mix well.

lepaz Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:43pm
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Hmmmm.....can't for the life of me, with the exception of Prof. Henry Higgins (Pygmalion, My Fair Lady --- love his mother's retort when he shows up unexpectedly: "Perfectly DREADFUL surprise!" -- even his own mother can't stand him)




Oooh, I love the movie My Fair Lady, I'm getting my kids into "old" movies and they are realizing the "new" movies are basically made from the "old" ones. Just like their music. Hum, go figure, mom and dad were cool one time....a long time ago. Doug, now I'm going to have to rent the movie tonight! Maybe watch it with some box made cupcakes. Yummy! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

NikkiDoc Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:53pm
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Wow. In the time I started the post and the time I finsihed posting...

Crap! Where is my coat and boots?

Mike1394 Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:54pm
post #106 of 267
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Originally Posted by Doug

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Originally Posted by indydebi

I rarely hear men debating this issue.



we've learned to keep our mouth shut.....

that or too busy stuffing it w/ cake!




Hehehehe Doug.

Mike

coldtropics Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 9:55pm
post #107 of 267

jkalman I agree

maisebaker... you are funny. The reality is that the only one who really ever gets offended by these threads are those who choose to use box mixes. If a scratch baker is asked they dont get defensive... asking did you mill the cobblestone for the road you drive on... but proudly proclaim that they are scratch bakers. I think the expectation is that the product that the customer is purchasing is a fresh compilation of ingredients vs box thats why they ask. The whole walmart uses premade or frozen doesnt hold water to me. Usually if someone is shoppin for a boutique style cake there is a certain expectation. I just dont get the defensiveness like a previous poster said if you use box mixes ... use 'em and be proud of it. If there is nothing indeed wrong with it dont hide the boxes... give your spiel about the baked with love .... i start with a mix and add tender kisses. MHO

johnson6ofus Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 10:08pm
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Best reply- MY recipe is just that, my recipe. (forget the box/ scratch thing).

Question- "Do you use a mix?"
Answer- "Sorry, I don't share my recipes."

Question, "But do you bake from scratch?"
Answer- "Sorry, I spent years perfecting my methods and recipes and just don't discuss them. I'm glad you like the taste."

fat-sissy Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 10:17pm
post #109 of 267

I don't have a shop and I sell only 1-2 cakes per week max, but here's my reply if a customer asks. And it's very rare that they do. "Some of my cakes are from scratch, (like pound cake, carrot cake, german choc) and others are made with recipes that include a cake mix as an ingredient along with add'l flour, sugar, sour cream, flavorings, etc."

Just for convenience sake I've been considering repackaging my cake mixes in ziploc bags w/the dry ingredients called for in the enhanced recipe I use so that when I'm ready to bake, all I need to do is get out the eggs, butter, sour cream. Any little short cuts help around our crazy house. This would eliminate having cake boxes sitting around your shop, which looks lovely BTW.

disubu Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 10:20pm
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Wow! This does seem like a touchy subject! I am new to decorating and have tried some scratch, some doctored mixes, and some plain mix recipes. I have found success with all three. I have thought about using a variety if I ever make it to the business level. I think that people who come to a "cake designer" want something special and different from the grocery store cake. They want a custom cake that is delicious and beautiful. I would like my product to showcase my talent by being memorable in all aspects.

I think that baking from scratch gives me a knowledge about baking that helps me create a unique product. I think that cake mix gives convenience and a consistent product that is reliable (no "night before the wedding" disasters). I say "Whatever works for you and keeps the customers coming back!"

If you are being honest, and your cakes are yummy and unique, people will come to you for cakes! I really believe it is that simple. I see no reason to hide or be ashamed of your techniques. If you notice you are losing business because you are telling about or exposing your cake mix, then it's time to rethink your options. That's what businesses do! Good luck to you in your beautiful new kitchen!!

flowers40 Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 10:44pm
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I use a box mix as by base and add many things from there. When people ask me, I say, I use the box mix as my dry ingredients, because so many recipes call for cake flour and that is much more expensive than a box mix. I use the extender recipe I got here on this site, to help give my recipes a more home made texture. I don't think I save time by using the box mix, because I have to sift the box mix, which is harder to sift than from scratch ingredients. Truth be told, when I want a really good tasting cake, just for my consumption, I use a box only. I love the taste. I just like the texture of the home made cakes (less crummy). And you know, I'm not going to apologize for my decision. I just want a high quality product and a reasonable price, and if I get it from a box , oh well.

indydebi Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 10:45pm
post #112 of 267
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Originally Posted by disubu

They want a custom cake that is delicious and beautiful.




That's pretty much what they get from me..... a custom cake made just for them that is delicious and beautiful!

Afarren Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 11:16pm
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I actually prefer the box mixes...so much easier--for me that is icon_smile.gif . I do Doctor them so that I can get the moistness that I like.

Petit-four Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 1:44am
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Hi jessieb578! First, that is a wonderful shop! I like your use of the space, and the decor.

I see you are in NY, as I am. If I understand it correctly from my inspector, we are required to label all ingredients in our baked goods (unless you are doing work under a restaurant/catering license). So, all ingredients, including those trace preservatives have to be listed. Also, as you know, DH's yellow cake mix has Yellow No 5 or whatever it is.... called a "declared" coloring under NYS law. So, in other words, we've got to type it out on the label....even water!

I agree with the suggestions for ways to more efficiently store box mixes -- they do take up a lot of room. I think if you find it detracts from the appearance of your lovely bakery, then go right ahead and store them in a better way! And, as discussed, those individuals who want to know about ingredients because of allergy, ethical, or medical reasons, rightly should know about all ingredients. So, basically, someone who takes an interest in ingredients -- for whatever reason -- can see with one glance at a baked good label if it is from a pre-measured commecrcial product, or not. (See, I didn't write mix!). Someone who does not care other than being sort of nosy, will most likely not know what to "look" for.

Does that make sense? icon_confused.gif

Anyway -- I do scratch baking, and believe me, I find myself doing LOTS of typing for my labels. I have tried to find the simplest ingredients I can, because, after thinking it over, it seemed to reflect what I wanted to do as a business. So, for example, I was glad to find a "all natural peanut butter" that was reasonably priced, and now, I can just type (peanuts, salt) in the ingredients. But, this is just my tiny little part of the whole wonderful world of cakes...no preaching intended!

As for some of the observations about "grinding wheat" and such...well, I drive to a local farm so I can get free-range fresh eggs, and I know a local baker who does indeed grind up her own flours. So, some do...some don't. I hope we can all respect each other, and try not to "label" each other like I've got to label my cakes! icon_rolleyes.gif

Thanks for starting a great discusion, jessieb578! I am always glad to learn the many points of view on CC. thumbs_up.gif

FromScratch Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:09pm
post #115 of 267

Does your island have a cabinet in it? If it does why not store them in there? And if it doesn't.. it'd be easy to add some doors to it.. even salvaged ones that wouldn't be expensive.. you'd just need a jig saw. Or you could get a nice wicker basket and put it on the bottom of your leaning shelf unit and fold a towel or two to cover the boxes. Not necessarily to "hide" them, but to keep the look more appealing and less "look at me I'm a storage unit.

Just thoughts that ran through my tired head this morning. A wicker laundry basket (tall) could maybe work too.. you know.. one with a lid.

Mamas Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:13pm
post #116 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaisieBake

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Quote:

What if it's a competitor at a bridal show wanting to sway business in front of customers? Because the answer can adversely and unfairly profile my business and therefore hurt my livelihood. Declaring either way can hurt you depending on the feelings of the person. Why divide your market?



Flip side, why not stand behind your product?

If you think that what you're doing is good, defend it honestly.

Do you think that your customers won't buy from you if they learn more about what they're buying?




If I understand this correctly, the question is not whether she should lie or tell the truth or whether she is insecure about her product. I think the question is should she be concerned about people's prejudices keeping them from trying her product. She is in the beggining stages of her business and if people don't get to walk in the shop and see/taste her product beofre that nasty rumors about "that bakery down the street attempting to rip people off by using a boxed mix" starts she might be in a lot of trouble.

I would definately hide the boxes and any of your other key ingredients. Not out of insecurity or with the intention to deceive. I would do it to try and forstall any negative reaction based on stupidity. Those with an allergy will ask about the ingredient they are allergic to. Those operating from the point of stupididty will assume that you bake from scratch and the question won't come up unless they see a box and walk away with their noses in the air. Most people still don't know that bakeries often use mixes to make their favorite cakes.

Do yourself a favor and don't voluntarily put it out there. I would definately adopt a don't ask don't tell attitude and when they ask, don't beat around the bush simply say "I use a doctored mix recipe my mom gave me." (well that's what I say. Feel free to borrow it)

Mamas Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:33pm
post #117 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnson6ofus

Best reply- MY recipe is just that, my recipe. (forget the box/ scratch thing).

Question- "Do you use a mix?"
Answer- "Sorry, I don't share my recipes."

Question, "But do you bake from scratch?"
Answer- "Sorry, I spent years perfecting my methods and recipes and just don't discuss them. I'm glad you like the taste."




I like this approach and would use it for some customers. I would add "are you asking because you have specific allergies?" and then decide whether or not youare willing to accomodate.

JenWhitlock Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:34pm
post #118 of 267

I have really enjoyed this thread! thanks all!

Petit_Four, you had a interesting point that struck a chord with me...
my cousin is deathly allergic to red food coloring.
I guess it's a good idea to know all your ingredients, box or not icon_lol.gif

cakegal Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:35pm
post #119 of 267

I like the doctored mix recipe my mom or a very close friend gave me. I really like that one.
Most of my friends think I lie to them when I say ..Oh, it's just a cake mix...LOL.. So I just let them think I make from scratch if they want to.
I just give my cakes a very yummy flavor title, and they think it's scratch...I never say it's just chocolate or yellow.... I say something like, it's double chocolate, chocolate chip fudge, with chocolate peanut butter fudge icing...Do you think that sounds like a box mix?
Anyways, try to avoid the mix question.

jlsheik Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:41pm
post #120 of 267

I recently bumped into this issue and I believe that I agree that it is simply none of the persons business... we research and gather info on these recipes doctored or not and it comes down to taste matters, and people want to know how you make that darn cake better than they can. If we asked what the secret spices are at KFC do you think they would tell us? Let them do the research and figure it out!!!

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