Do I avoid the "do you use a mix" question??

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

Mamas Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:46pm
post #121 of 267

I beleive it was Carl Sagan (not sure) that said to truly make something from scratch we would have to start with the creation of the universe. I really hate the do you grind, grow, ect. comments. It is a snappy retort that would throw off a non professional but among professionals it doesn't seem to fit as an answer to anything.

MissT Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 2:50pm
post #122 of 267

I forget who said this first, but when asked a question that we would prefer to not answer or that makes us uncomfortable, answer with the question, "Why do you ask" icon_confused.gif . Then, if it is about allergies, you would know. If, like a gentleman I know, it is about not consuming specific non-foods (corn syrup), then you would know. Some people take very seriously every bite of food they consume (wish I was one - I wouldn't have weight issues icon_redface.gif ). This would help anyone to know how best to answer. thumbs_up.gif

emccle Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 2:58pm
post #123 of 267

I always get compliments on my Aldi cake mixes. So many people have asked me how I get my cakes so moist.

moreCakePlz Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 3:19pm
post #124 of 267

Just curious. Iâm a just a casual home baker, so I donât really understand the where the âscratchâ line is drawn.

If a doctored cake mix is not considered scratch because it uses pre-measured, pre-combined dry ingredients, how would my coconut cake be classified?

For my coconut cake I measure out the flour and sugar, but I use a can of Coco Lopez Coconut Cream to achieve the unique flavor and texture. The Coco Lopez is pre-measured and pre-combined. Does this make my cake a âcanned mixâ vs a âbox mixâ or âscratchâ?

From the ongoing debate it sounds like if you measure out and combine your own flour and sugar the cake it is considered scratch.

Is it that simple?

Is that the only difference between the two?

Iâm so confused. Does someone have a definition for âscratch bakingâ.

costumeczar Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 3:47pm
post #125 of 267

*Climbing up on my soapbox*

Scratch baking is when you use basic ingredients such as flour, sugar, eggs, milk, etc. to bake something that is chemical and preservative-free. That's the basic reason for scratch baking in my case, I don't like the preservatives and the chemicals, and contrary to what many people here have posted, I can tell the difference between scratch and a mix. If I made a pie crust from scratch and then dumped cherry pie filling from a can into it, I wouldn't call it a scratch pie.

Whenever this kind of thread pops up is elicits a lot of responses because people are touchy about it, but I've noticed that it's usually the mix bakers who argue that mixes with stuff added to them are scratch. IMO, mixes have so many chemicals added to them to extend their shelf life and make them relatively foolproof to make, you can't say that it's scratch baking if you use them.

There are so many recipes that I've seen on CC that start with a cake mix and add a lot of stuff to them, you might as well avoid the chemicals and start with cake flour and sugar. And no, it really isn't more expensive to do it that way. You do have to know how to mix a cake batter the right way, though, and that's why a lot of people choose to use a mix...I'll say it again, get The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum, it's a great book and has a lot of information in it.

It's a personal decision whether to use the mixes or not...I choose not to because I don't like the taste and texture. You might like them, so have at it!

*Climbing down off my soapbox, time to go get some chocolate.*

Ladivacrj Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 4:03pm
post #126 of 267

To the OP, your shop is very cute.

To the issue:

I can't name a bakery in my area that bakes everything from scratch. They start with bulk mixes for just about everything.

When you go to a restaurant those big beautiful cakes you see displayed are not even made in the restaurant. They are ordered and shipped in (I know this because a place called Sweet Heart USA in my area provides 90% of cakes for the restaurants here) and they are not from scratch.

You are rarely going to find a bakery that bakes from scratch, let alone a grocery store. So the people with "special needs" that many are referring to, will let you know that when they contact you. The others are just nosy.

I make many of my cakes from a mix some I would never make from a mix (family recipes that everyone is used to), I have no problem saying so and telling them which cakes are which.

If they have a problem with it, then I'm not the baker for them.

Denise Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 4:06pm
post #127 of 267

I don't think a customer has EVER asked me that question!

I do bake with mixes. I am not a scratch baker at all but I get RAVE reviews on the taste of my cakes. I have had other bakers ask for the recipe and couldn't believe it was a box mix. It is a doctored mix so I guess it works for me.

I do volunteer the information that I bake my cakes with real butter and buttermilk - this is usually as brides are eating the cake and tasting the frosting (made with butter also) and raving about how good it is. I think by volunteering the "real butter/buttermilk/extra large or jumbo eggs are used to make my cakes" they don't feel the need to ask if it is scratch or box.

I get my thrills by decorating. If I got my thrills by baking - I would be baking from scratch. Each to his own and whatever works for his or her personal situation.

Lots of restaurants use precooked (especially chain restaurants) foods and deserts from Sysco. People lap them up and LOVE it. My son was the head cook at a local family owned restaurant who made all of the savory dishes from scratch. Devin poo poo'd Olive Garden because he said their food was all made at huge kitchens and shipped frozen to the individual sites for basically "reheating". He said working for one of those restaurants wouldn't have taught him what he knows - and that is how to make KILLER meatballs, marinara sauce and KILLER brouschetta. But at the same time - they did not make the pasta from scratch sometimes a blend of the two - scratch and prepackaged can work together to bring a wonderful product to our customers!

tcakes65 Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 4:19pm
post #128 of 267

I was in Nashville, TN, last weekend and read an article about singer, Michelle Branch, opening a new bakery there. Her chef apparently plans to bake from scratch, and they're using this as a marketing strategy. The article says, "Michelle plans to support local farmers by using their butter, milk, eggs and fruit". I thought this to be interesting since scratch baking seems to be one of her biggest selling points and marketing tools. The more this type of marketing strategy is used, the more we will have to answer the question about mix or scratch. Many people have switched to organic foods so that may be a reason for the question as well.

By the way, I forgot to mention to the OP that I love your shop! Very cute and classy.

FromScratch Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 4:42pm
post #129 of 267

I have been asked plenty of times, and I know that I would ask if I were cake shopping as that is important to me. I had one woman ask if I baked from scratch and I said yes.. and she asked if there was any mix involved.. I said no I measure out flour and sugar and eggs and butter and all that. She said "Good!! I am not interested in buying something from a box.". So yes it does matter to some. If they don't ask.. it doesn't matter. If they do ask.. then you have to be honest. If I was sold a Dr'd mix when I was told it would be scratch.. I'd be LIVID. But if I was told up front.. I might order anyway. Chances are I wouldn't though.. since I don't care for the dr'd mixes. Especially the ones with coffee creamers in them. I hate coffee creamers in all shapes and forms. I am an admitted foodie though. I love clean flavors and simple combinations.

So I suppose my rambling has a point somewhere.. LOL.. people do have their preferences and they will order based on them. As long as you are honest.. you have nothing to worry about. You can say "My cakes start with a mix, but by the time I'm done adding all of my special touches to them they don't even resemble a straight out of the box cake." Maybe add that your icings and fillings are all made from scratch if they are. Get your product out there for people to sample.. if they love it.. they will come and order. icon_smile.gif

terrylee Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 4:53pm
post #130 of 267

I'm not a scratch baker. I always tell my clients I use cake mixes. I do have a couple of scratch cakes, which I offer. A lot of the time $$ is the issue and using a cake mix is the least expensive way to go. I do want a good tasting cake though..... and have been sucessful with the mixes.
What is a beautifully decorated cake if it doesn't taste good.

JenWhitlock Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 5:01pm
post #131 of 267

again, this is a great thread, I have learned a lot....
I just picked up a flyer from a local pie-baker at the farmer's market.
it says "homemade" all over it, but no where does it say scratch.
she even says that her crust is homemade, but she doesn't say anything about the ingredients or that it's from scratch.... so now, I wonder LOL!

Petit-four Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 5:13pm
post #132 of 267

I like the idea of being a small business, and supporting local small businesses as well (hence, buying local, free-range eggs, local fruits, etc.) For some customers, that is important, and that's the market I enjoy working with. That's why they buy from me, and I don't have to worry about competing with Walmart -- they don't shop there anyway!

But, to get back to the original post, again, under NYS law, we have to provide an ingredient list -- and every single one of the "numbered" food colorings must be declared -- so box yellow, box red velvet -- and ALL the commercial preservatives -- one would have to declare those components. When I use spices, I can write "organic spices" (hence, KFC doesn't have to disclose their secret spices).

I am sure the OP (also NYS) is doing this...it would be interesting to know if other states require this as well. I can't just provide it if asked, I have to attach it to the box. icon_confused.gif

What do box mix users do in terms of disclosing ingredients? I was just wondering what your state/country requires....? icon_rolleyes.gif

shisharka Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 5:26pm
post #133 of 267

I grew up on scratch cakes, and baked them for half my life, before I started decoratingâ¦

The only reason I personally dislike the âregularâ box mixes is the amount of chemicals and whoever knows what other unpronounceable preservatives in them⦠My rule of thumb for anything pre-packaged is if it has more than 3 lines of ingredients, I donât just buy itâ¦

The issue of box vs. scratch for cakes in my world has less to do with easy to bake, or texture, or price â it is about that chemical aftertaste that I personally cannot stand and I do claim I can spot a box from a scratch recipe from a mile away. With that said, I use a line of organic BOX mixes that taste and feel just like scratch⦠I was soooo exited to discover them!!! I still use my pastry crème, syrups, ganache, SMBC and butter-only buttercreams and all the other good fillings and frosting from my scratch recipes, but those organic BOXES rival my scratch cakes for a fraction of the time it takes to bake themâ¦

If cake decorating were my business, I would likely use those box mixes⦠But I donât think I would use the chemically infused version, which I personally dislike, to feed to someone else⦠Then again, I made a 3-tier cake for my friendâs wedding, top and bottom two of my staple scratch recipes that she asked for, and middle tier was the white BC mix â just because I knew some of the people would crave that and she was looking for something more âuniversalâ⦠We were right â rave reviews on both scratch and box, from respectively the people used to scratch and to over-flavored chemical boxes... Some scratch connoisseurs refused to even taste the box⦠the box lovers were ok with the scratch but gobbled down the box (there was enough cake to feed an army... It is all a matter of personal preference and what people have had all their lives.

I donât think there should be any guilt associated with the boxes as long as thatâs what your customers want. And if they didnât, they wouldnât be coming back⦠So as long as you get repeat business, donât change what works for you!

snarkybaker Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 5:54pm
post #134 of 267

The original question was " do I avoid the question? ", which is a different question than which is better. The answer to which is better depends on what you are trying to acheive. Mixes are better for consistency. Mixes are easier on labor costs( because you can hire someone with virtually no training to bake up cakes from a box) Now those savings of time and in some cases money may allow you to price more aggressively and get more business, or you may have more time to spend on the decorating and thus charge more because the cakes are more elaborate.

This is not a "what is better ? "question, IMO. Both business models can work. The question is " should I lie or try to misdirect a customer who asked a very specific question ?' And if that is a question you need to ask, then I personally wouldn't want to do business with you. I don't see aproblem with putting the mixes in canisters. I don't see a problem with not sharing recipes. I do see a problem not answering truthfully a direct question.

lepaz Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 6:17pm
post #135 of 267

I come in peace.
Question, I make my cakes from box (doctored),and have no prejudice eating a scratch cake (Hey, we're all cake-ladies and a couple of gents icon_biggrin.gif ) and all this talk about fresh eggs has me thinking. We started eating fresh eggs and I've noticed a heavier texture to them (I love the yolk!! thumbs_up.gif ). Does the texture of fresh versus store eggs make a difference in cakes?? If so, in what way? icon_confused.gificon_confused.gif

icon_razz.gif Now, we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya icon_rolleyes.gif

dandelion56602 Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 7:19pm
post #136 of 267

I've only gotten 1/2 way through the posts & I have to run away from the computer for awhile.

I too use mixes & just feel like people think they shouldn't pay you what you ask b/c you use a mix & "they can do that themselves". I know they can't decorate like me though...another subject.

But my ? is what do you do if it's not a client. Eg. At my dd's bday party I was getting soooo many compliments on how moist the chocolate cake was & then I'm asked "so how do you make your cakes, what do you do to make them so moist, do you start from a mix, etc". I just said I try so many different recipes ( & I do b/c I'm trying to get a set of recipes to use). But everything I do is docotored, not just a box. So, I do start w/ a box but it's more than that. So, my thing is I don't want them thinking that I open a box, pour in water, oil & eggs & bake when I don't. It's not fair for others to assume that we take the "easy way out", b/c it's taken me just as long to find my doctored mixes that I like as it has for scratch bakers to find their recipes. Plus, everything else I do is from scratch (cookies & desserts) & I wish I could honestly say I make everything from scratch

Mike1394 Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 7:32pm
post #137 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by lepaz

I come in peace.
Question, I make my cakes from box (doctored),and have no prejudice eating a scratch cake (Hey, we're all cake-ladies and a couple of gents icon_biggrin.gif ) and all this talk about fresh eggs has me thinking. We started eating fresh eggs and I've noticed a heavier texture to them (I love the yolk!! thumbs_up.gif ). Does the texture of fresh versus store eggs make a difference in cakes?? If so, in what way? icon_confused.gificon_confused.gif

icon_razz.gif Now, we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya icon_rolleyes.gif




The fat is fresher, and non pasteurized. So yes farm fresh eggs will make a difference.

Mike

lepaz Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 7:39pm
post #138 of 267
Quote:
Quote:

lepaz wrote:
I come in peace.
Question, I make my cakes from box (doctored),and have no prejudice eating a scratch cake (Hey, we're all cake-ladies and a couple of gents ) and all this talk about fresh eggs has me thinking. We started eating fresh eggs and I've noticed a heavier texture to them (I love the yolk!! ). Does the texture of fresh versus store eggs make a difference in cakes?? If so, in what way?

Now, we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya


The fat is fresher, and non pasteurized. So yes farm fresh eggs will make a difference.

Mike




Thank you for the answer Mike thumbs_up.gif

MaisieBake Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 7:55pm
post #139 of 267
Quote:
Quote:

The fat is fresher, and non pasteurized. So yes farm fresh eggs will make a difference.




Except most eggs in the supermarket aren't pasteurized. If your supermarket eggs aren't specially labelled (and marketed and priced) as pasteurized, they're not.

"Farm" eggs may be fresher and the chickens may (or may not, don't assume) have been fed on things most people would be more comfortable with their food, eating. Factory-farm poultry and egg production is problematic for a lot of people, for a variety of reasons.

peacockplace Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 8:37pm
post #140 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by txkat

The original question was " do I avoid the question? ", which is a different question than which is better. The answer to which is better depends on what you are trying to acheive. Mixes are better for consistency. Mixes are easier on labor costs( because you can hire someone with virtually no training to bake up cakes from a box) Now those savings of time and in some cases money may allow you to price more aggressively and get more business, or you may have more time to spend on the decorating and thus charge more because the cakes are more elaborate.

This is not a "what is better ? "question, IMO. Both business models can work. The question is " should I lie or try to misdirect a customer who asked a very specific question ?' And if that is a question you need to ask, then I personally wouldn't want to do business with you. I don't see aproblem with putting the mixes in canisters. I don't see a problem with not sharing recipes. I do see a problem not answering truthfully a direct question.




I agree completely!!! The topic never was which is better. It's about being upfront with your customers. If it's a nosy neighbor who wants you recipe then blow her off. If it's someone at a family reunion who's jealous of your cakes blow her off, but if it's a paying customer who wants to know what's in their food then I think you have a responsibility to tell them.

indydebi Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 8:45pm
post #141 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaisieBake

Quote:
Quote:

The fat is fresher, and non pasteurized. So yes farm fresh eggs will make a difference.



Except most eggs in the supermarket aren't pasteurized. If your supermarket eggs aren't specially labelled (and marketed and priced) as pasteurized, they're not.

"Farm" eggs may be fresher and the chickens may (or may not, don't assume) have been fed on things most people would be more comfortable with their food, eating. Factory-farm poultry and egg production is problematic for a lot of people, for a variety of reasons.




If an egg is considered a dairy product, then I share this quote directly from the Indiana State Health Dept website:
Do not eat unpasteurized dairy products; it is illegal to sell unpasteurized dairy products in Indiana.

I know a LOT of time was spent covering pasterized eggs during the Food Safety Certification Class I was in!

Mike1394 Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 8:54pm
post #142 of 267

Yeah they have to be pasteurized. It is also illegal to switch up the good ones in broken cartons tomake a new carton. Most stores will combine the good ones to make a new carton. Can't say I blame them.

Mike

peacockplace Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 9:05pm
post #143 of 267

Speaking of eggs... I paid $4.65 for two and a half dozen eggs yesterday. icon_cry.gif How much are these going to go up???

Petit-four Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 9:06pm
post #144 of 267

In NYS, it is perfectly legal to purchase "unpasteurized" eggs from inspected, legal farms. Here are the regulations for selling eggs from farms:

Selling Eggs Egg: cartons must be marked with grade and size. Eggs may be sold in bulk displays but grade and size must be indicated. Eggs should be washed and candled. Cartons must include the name and address of producer and the date packed. For a fact sheet on egg sales consult:

www.agmkt.state.ny.us/FS/general/farmprods.html


When eggs are baked, they become, de facto, safe to eat (assuming they are fresh). Pasteurized egg products are used when raw whites are used, such as in some meringue frostings, etc.

And again -- scratch or mix -- we here in NYS are required to label the exact ingredients we use, and we are legally required to answer questions about our food's ingredients. So, if the question is, "Do you use a mix" the OP could refer the person to her labeled boxes. They can read for themselves exactly what is in the cake. And in the case of mixes, BHA, BTA, etc. would sort of answer the question, I would think.

As food providers, we cannot side-step any of these inquiries in NYS. It is interesting to learn about the wide variations between states, however! thumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 9:14pm
post #145 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by peacockplace

Speaking of eggs... I paid $4.65 for two and a half dozen eggs yesterday. icon_cry.gif How much are these going to go up???




Between 5-14 and 6-4 (approx 3 weeks), the price of my eggs went up 7.7%. Between 6-4 and 6-11 (1 week), the price went up an ADDITIONAL 9.7% .... a total of 18.1% in less than 30 days!!! Amortize this over 12 months (assume 18.1% every month) = 217.1% annual increase. So in simple math (not compounded math, which would be WAY worse!), your 4.65 will be over $10 by the end of 12 months.

Debi Does Data! thumbs_up.gif

peacockplace Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 9:16pm
post #146 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by peacockplace

Speaking of eggs... I paid $4.65 for two and a half dozen eggs yesterday. icon_cry.gif How much are these going to go up???



Between 5-14 and 6-4 (approx 3 weeks), the price of my eggs went up 7.7%. Between 6-4 and 6-11 (1 week), the price went up an ADDITIONAL 9.7% .... a total of 18.1% in less than 30 days!!! Amortize this over 12 months (assume 18.1% every month) = 217.1% annual increase. So in simple math (not compounded math, which would be WAY worse!), your 4.65 will be over $10 by the end of 12 months.

Debi Does Data! thumbs_up.gif




icon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gif
I see another cake pricing increase coming!

Mike1394 Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 9:16pm
post #147 of 267

I stand corrected on the pastuerization of eggs in MI. The AG says only washed before sale.

Mike

-K8memphis Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 9:23pm
post #148 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by Petit-four

...

And again -- scratch or mix -- we here in NYS are required to label the exact ingredients we use, and we are legally required to answer questions about our food's ingredients. So, if the question is, "Do you use a mix" the OP could refer the person to her labeled boxes. They can read for themselves exactly what is in the cake. And in the case of mixes, BHA, BTA, etc. would sort of answer the question, I would think.

As food providers, we cannot side-step any of these inquiries in NYS. It is interesting to learn about the wide variations between states, however! thumbs_up.gif




Yes big difference state to state.

Hey question for you. 20 years ago I was all on top of the BHT stuff because my boy was on a special diet. But I mean nowadays I don't even see it listed on my box of cake mix. I mean I did see it previously on some cereal boxes. Omg...

BREAKING NEWS>>>Hey y'know what it says on the top of the DH classic white cake mix box??? "No preservatives" Who knew???

But that was my question for you. The box itself may have the preservative on it (I'm not sure either way) so do you list that too? I mean once you find out once and for all if it does or not.

But I mean I guess It couldn't have preservative if it says none huh??

-K8memphis Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 9:38pm
post #149 of 267

And I am not doubting that anyone who says they can tell if it's scratch or mix can really tell that. I can't tell but I'm not doubting you. But would you all not admit that most people cannot tell the difference? Especially in light of the fact that so many people get it wrong wrong wrong. There are posters in this thread testifying to that. I've had many comments over the years about my 'scratch' cakes and I just smile.

If it's a pleasing cake it is often deemed 'scratch' no matter how you made it. If it's an unpleasant cake it's deemed a mix. Let there be no mistake cake mix takes the wrap for many a suffering scratch failure.

You can get a metallic taste from a wonky cake pan no matter what kinda cake you make in it. If the metallic taste is from the baking powder then baking powder is often an ingredient in scratch cake.

If cake mix really tasted as bad as it seems to taste to some of us it would not could not be a million dollar baby and it's probably a billion dollar baby.

Petit-four Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 9:40pm
post #150 of 267

Mike -- (sending a hug) -- I did not mean to contradict you. icon_cry.gif I was just mentioning our state's rules -- I realize they vary widely. And yes, for meringues -- I use the pastuerized 100%, and am obligated to do so. icon_rolleyes.gif

k8 -- yeah! I checked a box -- no preservatives. thumbs_up.gif Cool! Anyway -- what we have to do is write out everything -- including Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum. If I use colorings, I have to list them too -- like yellow No 5, I think is in the many of the yellow mixes.

So, for me, "scratch" is easier on many levels -- simplfies my life big time.

Anyway -- I sort of feel I am re-stating things, but since the OP is in my area, I thought I should mention that (at least my inspector) was very, very clear and insistent that we must answer each and every question about content. I suppose a legal answer to the OP's original question would be: "I list my ingredients on my box. Please check them if you have any concerns."

Someone suggested answering the question with the reply "Why is it important to you?" By law, in NYS, that is illegal because 1) we are not allowed to quiz people on their diets 2) we have to disclose.

OK (taking deep breath) -- I now have to go and make dinnner. thumbs_up.gif

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