Do I Really Have To Do All Trial & Error?

Decorating By LaBellaFlor Updated 20 Mar 2009 , 8:07pm by maryjsgirl

LaBellaFlor Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 10:13pm
post #1 of 29

So I'm in the process of building my recipe portfolio and have been trying several recipes I've came across this site. I have pretty good recipes all ready, I just wanted to get more fillings & different flavor scratch cake recipes (my personal preference). I am totally grateful to everyone on here, cause I have found some GREAT recipes! BUT, and I am not trying to be rude or mean, I have came across one that tasted like BLAH (I'm being nice here)! I looked at the ingredients, a little different, and the way it was mixed was definitly different. The descrption was like these were the best chocolate cupcakes ever made in the history of cupcakes. Not! How do you all go about deciding on a recipe to try? What catches your eye, what do you look for, or do I just have try what looks right to me & it'll be like I may win some & I may lose some?

28 replies
indydebi Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 11:14pm
post #2 of 29

I'm not a scratch cake baker but all of my cookies are scratch. What I noticed as time went on, is the more familiar I was with my own recipes, then I could eye-ball another recipe and see if it looked proportionately right or not.

Until you're to that point, I'd suggest taking 3 or 4, for example, choc cake recipes. Lay them side by side. Then compare the ingredients listed, such as quantities. You should start to see a pattern.

Cakepro Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 11:25pm
post #3 of 29

Well, first you check the recipe against the baker's formula to make sure the recipe will work. There are various methods of mixing (creaming method, dissolved-sugar method, two-stage method, one-bowl method, etc.) I also like to read others' reviews of recipes before trying one.

Then, you just have to try a bunch and decide what is YOUR personal favorite.

Indideby, I thought your cookies were made from generic-brand cake mixes.

indydebi Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 11:35pm
post #4 of 29

I had 2 that start with a cake mix .... my chocolates and my lemons ...., but since walmart pulled their Great Value brands off the shelf, I had to search and find a new chocolate cookie base. none of the name brand cake mixes worked, so I had to find a scratch recipe.

So I will backpedal a little ..... MOST of my cookies are scratch, except for a couple. icon_redface.gif I'd say it's a 2 to 18 ratio.

sadsmile Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 11:41pm
post #5 of 29

They pulled their GV fudge frosting and I used that and liked it on stuff just for us..LOL now I have to find a thick fudgy something to replace that with. I wonder why they pulled it all.It really irked me at the time. I am still half hoping that they are changing the brand name and it will come back like what happened a few years back.

indydebi Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 11:47pm
post #6 of 29

I heard on Wall Street Report they are rethinking this and may bring the brand back because of the "current economic crisis" (I'm sick of that phrase already!)

nikki72905 Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 11:58pm
post #7 of 29

GV brand (I have a little inside scoop and I'll try to get more) But what I can tell you is that the GV Brand of sugar is made at Dominos

I'm sure the GV brand of mixes and such are also from other places - I'll find out to see if it is the same product from a brand name. icon_wink.gif

maryjsgirl Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 12:08am
post #8 of 29

I just saw an article about Walmart revamping their generic brands. I didn't read the story, but it sounded like they are changing labels to look more high end. So this may be why you can't find these things right now.

I wish I would have actually read the article now. icon_rolleyes.gif



Back on topic...

I am a visual person and I hate recipes with no pictures. Especially when it comes to cake. So I've started checking out sites like tastespotting and foodgawker so I can SEE the recipe before reading. I also like to do a google image search for recipes. I want to see the texture, moisture, crumb, etc of a cake before I bake it.

For scratch cakes I always look for recipes that call for buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream. These always seem to be more moist than others. I stay away from recipes that I have to whip eggs and fold them in or do a bunch of extra steps. I like easy recipes. If I open a bakery I want everyone who works there to be able to pull the recipes off with as little a margin of error as possible.

-K8memphis Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 12:25am
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by maryjsgirl

...I stay away from recipes that I have to whip eggs and fold them in or do a bunch of extra steps. I like easy recipes. If I open a bakery I want everyone who works there to be able to pull the recipes off with as little a margin of error as possible.




Omg Omg there is one thing worse than having to whip the egg whites separate and diddle with folding them in & not deflating them yada yada yada. And that is tasting egg white in the finished product <insert gotta hurl smilie face here>

But when I write a recipe, I use two columns, I list the ingredients in the order that I will use them, then I use brackets to group them and in the second column I give the instructions for those ingredients.


butter } whirl in mixer to soften
sugar } add to above and cream
eggs } add to above one at a time

flour......................}
spice.....................} sift all together add one third to above
salt .......................}
baking powder.......}

sour cream } add one half to above

Add another third of dry mixture
Add other half of sour cream
add the rest of the dry

blablabla

That kinda gives you the gist. But dude repeating the ingredients in the instructions gets on my last nerve fast.

So I'm not exactly sure how that relates to the op but there it is.

icon_biggrin.gif

DesignerCakes Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 12:35am
post #10 of 29

Like you, I have always liked recipes that have photos of the finished product. I recently learned that 90% of the items we see photographed in magazines are not the actual item, but rather something made to look like what it's supposed to be! Food stylists make things look a certain way and there are many tools of the trade to make that happen. I just saw a Food Network Challenge where food stylists were competing against each other and they made 'ice cream' out of shortening and powdered sugar! Obviously, the thick paste doesn't melt and they can take their time photographing it. Who knew!

Unfortunately, trial and error is the only way. What tastes good to one person may be awful to another. I go with what works for my palate and hope others like it. I tried a gazillion recipes and threw out a ton of cake before I found what worked for me.

LaBellaFlor Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 12:47am
post #11 of 29

I actually do compare ingredients & mixing process.. If they are variations of a standard, I try. But I did try a more extreme variation of chocolate. It did have the basics, plus a couple of extras. I'm glad for others opinions of how they go about checking. Maybe I was missing something.

coldtropics Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:03am
post #12 of 29

A lot of trial and error is required. My recommendation is to stick with
'clean' recipies. I prefer scratch recipies and like to be able to keep it clean with each recipe being a base of butter sugar flour and eggs vs a box of this with coffee creamer etc added. To me I get identifiable natural flavors that smell and taste fresh. I get good and consistant results with my recipies but it took alot of time. Any recipe ... and again this is stricktly my opinion...that asks for whipping of eggs and folding them in tends to be dry. For myself because i dont use anything artificial.. its taken much longer to create recipies because its much harder to create a fool proof scratch creme brule cake then add creme brule coffee creamer to a cake mix.

indydebi Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:14am
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by coldtropics

A lot of trial and error is required. My recommendation is to stick with 'clean' recipies. I prefer scratch recipies and like to be able to keep it clean with each recipe being a base of butter sugar flour and eggs vs a box of this with coffee creamer etc added.




This makes good sense. Comparing apples to apples!

SugarFrosted Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:21am
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by maryjsgirl

I just saw an article about Walmart revamping their generic brands. I didn't read the story, but it sounded like they are changing labels to look more high end. So this may be why you can't find these things right now.

I wish I would have actually read the article now. icon_rolleyes.gif




was this it?
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iTcbCeN1mvahVwuRNPNbjmaB1WvAD96VBIOO0

JGMB Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:40am
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

I heard they may bring the brand back because of the "current economic crisis" (I'm sick of that phrase already!)




That's funny!! I told my husband the other day that if I heard one more person say "in these tough economic times," I was going to scream.

Well, it was only about 5 minutes into some show that evening that I heard it, so I did . . . scream that is! Sometimes I wonder my husband thinks I've gone off the deep end. icon_wink.gif

Deb_ Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:49am
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by coldtropics

Any recipe ... and again this is stricktly my opinion...that asks for whipping of eggs and folding them in tends to be dry.




Usually when the finished product is dry the reason behind it is "over beating" of the egg whites. Try to beat them a little less, I'm sure you'll like the results much better. thumbs_up.gif

To the OP. There are many factors behind the success or failure of scratch cake recipes.........i.e. the experience of the individual baker, quality of ingredients used, oven used, altitude, weather etc. What may work for me may not work for another. It really is trial and error and personal opinion.

I have derived most of my recipes from existing recipes that I've found over the years in books or on-line, but 99% of them I've "tweaked" to my liking. It's definitely a learning experience, and my family has eaten a lot of "trial and error" products in the last 25 yrs. (they've got the love handles to prove it) icon_lol.gif

rezzygirl Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:50am
post #17 of 29

Regarding GV cake mix, they pulled it off the shelves because it contained "undeclared milk proteins"

http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/recalls/2007/03/cake_brownie_mix_recall_expand.html

I hope they get it back soon!!!!

Ruth0209 Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:52am
post #18 of 29

For those that don't already know this, many generic brands are made by the same companies that make name brand foods. They're often made with the same ingredients and processes in the same facilities. The big price difference is usually because of advertising.

I learned in a consumer class years ago that you should start with the generic brand first. If you're satisfied with the quality, keep using it. If you don't like it, move up to the higher priced item. This is true with so many products that come in generic like cereal, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, etc.

I have found that a lot of generic frozen potato products are not as good as Simplot or Ore-Ida. But then, I'm from Idaho, so I'm a potato connoisseur. Ha! Not really. I just had to say that!

Ironbaker Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 2:01am
post #19 of 29

Like most have already said, I tend to look at the ingredient list and the ratios to get a "first impression" feel for the recipe. I like sites like allrecipes.com or recipezaar because I can then read through the reviews first to see if anyone's come across things I should know about the recipe. I do this with regular food recipes too.

But I tend to look for a good "base" recipe and go from there on my own.

LaBellaFlor Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 2:02am
post #20 of 29

Coldtropics thats exactly what I've been looking for. Recipes that get the flavors without the artificial additions like flavored creamers, though I do think that was a creative idea, but I don't do mixes. The chocolate cupcakes had GREAT texture, but AWFUL flavor. I totally agree with the buttermilk/sourcream, definitly godd texture. And Ruth0209, agree, the name brand potatoes taste better & have better texture then the generic. By the way Coldplay...do youmind PMing me you creme brulee cake recipe, cause I have been looking for a scratch recipe & NO LUCK!

sadsmile Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 4:30am
post #21 of 29

But when I write a recipe, I use two columns, I list the ingredients in the order that I will use them, then I use brackets to group them and in the second column I give the instructions for those ingredients.




flour......................}
spice.....................} sift all together add one third to above
salt .......................}
baking powder.......}


No way K8 I did that to several of my recipies. I love it -nice and simple and usually takes 3 paragraphs and turns it into a few lines. My mom saw one of my cards and she just couldn't follow it though..LOL If my scanner was speaking to my pc I would proove it- just because i know you like to call BS icon_evil.gif ROFLMBO I heart U! icon_wink.gif

OhMyGanache Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 5:13am
post #22 of 29

I go to recipe sites that have customer comments (epicurious & Martha Stewart's) and READ THEM. Granted, there are a lot of people who change the recipe to their taste and post those results, so you have to weed through sometimes to find those who made the recipe as written to find out what they think of it. This has saved me a lot of time and money. If 10 people make it, and it turned out well for only half, then I won't make it.

cakesbycathy Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 5:59pm
post #23 of 29

I primarily food shop at Aldi's, which carries mostly generic. With the exception of peanut butter (I only eat Jif), my family prefers the generic brands. You can't tell the difference for most things. Example: given the choice between Honeycomb cereal and the Aldi's version, my kids pick the generic version every time.

playingwithsugar Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 6:11pm
post #24 of 29

Attenion, WalMart Shoppers!

They are not taking products off the shelf permanently. They have come up with a new logo for their label. It will still be called Great Value, but the design will be different, more contemporary.

This was brought to my attention in an online news article last week.

http://www.csnews.com/csn/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003952422&imw=Y

Theresa icon_smile.gif

Ayanami Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 6:28pm
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy

I primarily food shop at Aldi's, which carries mostly generic. With the exception of peanut butter (I only eat Jif), my family prefers the generic brands. You can't tell the difference for most things. Example: given the choice between Honeycomb cereal and the Aldi's version, my kids pick the generic version every time.




YEA ALDI'S!!!! thumbs_up.gif

I luv Aldi's & I totally agree about the generic preference. Though my stickler is cheese. I can't eat cheap crappy cheese. Uhn-uhn, no way. I think the ladies at my Aldi's are starting to recognize me just because of the massive amounts of PS that i buy on a very very regular basis.

icon_lol.gificon_wink.gif

imakecakes Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 6:34pm
post #26 of 29

I, too, look at sites with ratings and reviews (--and pics). I especially like to go to the reviews low ratings first, because I get more of an idea of what NOT to do than I get from the 5 star reviews.

I also recommend Allrecipes as a good site to check out.

I have only tried recipes from here when they are talked about in the forums and have feedback from others who have tried them.

whisperingmadcow Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 6:43pm
post #27 of 29

To be honest, most of my recipes are hand-me-downs from my mom.

If I have to find new ones, I look in old school cookbook, anything before 1980's. Some of the newer books have healthier recipes which is fine, but I really like all the older ones because they did some or added something because it tasted good, not because of health.

I am always nervous about trying recipes from the internet (not including CC) because anyone can put anything on the net.

After that, you really do have to fine what works best for you.

LaBellaFlor Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 6:47pm
post #28 of 29

Thanks for the advice. I definitly would look at cakes with ratings & making sure most people gave a good rating. The chocolate cupcakes I tried were from a forum, not from the recipe section. I just tried a recipe from a forum that was also listed in the recipe section (vanilla cake) & put it with a chocolate mousse I make & I have to say, DELICIOUS!

maryjsgirl Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 8:07pm
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SugarFrosted

Quote:
Originally Posted by maryjsgirl

I just saw an article about Walmart revamping their generic brands. I didn't read the story, but it sounded like they are changing labels to look more high end. So this may be why you can't find these things right now.

I wish I would have actually read the article now. icon_rolleyes.gif



was this it?
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iTcbCeN1mvahVwuRNPNbjmaB1WvAD96VBIOO0




Yep that's it thanks!

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