Cake Mix Vs Scratch

Business By Taralyne Updated 8 May 2009 , 6:28pm by ntertayneme

Taralyne Posted 4 May 2009 , 9:10pm
post #1 of 82

I'm new to the site and I would first like to say thanks to all, this site has help me immensely..

I'm wondering if people can tell the difference between a box and a scratch cake.

The problem is, I'm not having much luck with the scratch cakes (dry) and I've commited to a wedding cake that's supposed to be made from scratch. I'm not sure how to handle this now? The wedding is in two weeks and I'm going into panic mode now.

Looking for advice

Thanks in advance

81 replies
cdent Posted 4 May 2009 , 9:28pm
post #2 of 82

This sounds horrible, but I am not afraid to admit I use boxed cake mix! I have had tremendous luck with the Betty Crocker cake mixes, people can't tell the difference! If they do ask, I say my cakes are boxed cake mix because I would rather spend the time pouring my heart and soul into the way it looks, instead of all that time making it. Plus you can't beat the price of a box cake mix! In our WalMart they are only $.88 each!

Cheap Cake Mix (but still very yummy) + Time Saved = Happy Cake Decorator that can maybe make a profit!

lol

Madiken Posted 4 May 2009 , 9:36pm
post #3 of 82

I used the Betty Crocker cake mixes too but I doctor them. The "cake mix doctor" book has many great recipes!

cdent Posted 4 May 2009 , 9:40pm
post #4 of 82

Oh and I forgot to mention this story:

For my wedding cake, one of the layers was carrot cake (Betty Crocker Box Mix) and my husband's aunt came up to me and said "I don't eat carrot cake but I ate all of the carrot cake you made! You have got to give me that recipe, I just loved it!" I looked at her a smiled and said I would mail it to her because she doesn't have email. A week later I mailed her a box of Betty Crocker Cake mix and she couldn't believe that it was a box mix cake and she cracked up! icon_smile.gif

heehee

panchanewjersey Posted 4 May 2009 , 9:46pm
post #5 of 82

Just depends on what kind of cake i'm making, but for plain cakes bc is the best I think so. Have to agree with cdent, and everyone likes it. For cakes like orange/lemon they are scratch but they are still moist.

pattycakesnj Posted 4 May 2009 , 9:53pm
post #6 of 82

I can taste and smell the difference between cake mix and scratch. The cake mix has a chemical taste and smell and they are not cheaper than scratch. There is another thread going on now that has been discussing this very issue. (Sorry, I don't know how to link you to it)

nicolesprinkle Posted 4 May 2009 , 9:57pm
post #7 of 82

I use Kakeladi's ORIGINAL WASC cake recipe. It uses boxed cake mix. I have changed up and used almost every flavor. I have made scratch cakes but everyone seems to like the altered box mix better. Also with me being a SAHM it is a quicker process. I'm also just making cakes in my free time for friends and family. Here is the recipe!

http://www.cakecentral.com/cake_recipe-7445-The-Original-WASC-cake-recipe.html

-K8memphis Posted 4 May 2009 , 9:58pm
post #8 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taralyne

I'm new to the site and I would first like to say thanks to all, this site has help me immensely..

I'm wondering if people can tell the difference between a box and a scratch cake.

The problem is, I'm not having much luck with the scratch cakes (dry) and I've commited to a wedding cake that's supposed to be made from scratch. I'm not sure how to handle this now? The wedding is in two weeks and I'm going into panic mode now.

Looking for advice

Thanks in advance




Hmm.

Can you wiggle out of it that easy?

Tell me about your experience,
your length of time in caking and
what have you been trying to bake?
And your arrangement with the bride,
how much are you charging,
what flavor cake,
how could you agree to something you can't do or never did before?
Who would pay for that?
Who would expect that?
Do you have oven thermometer
What recipe/s have you tried?
How big is the cake?
What kind of decor are you gonna use
have your tried simple syrup to ramp up he moistness

__Jamie__ Posted 4 May 2009 , 10:00pm
post #9 of 82

Everything K8 said....yup. Need details. I have a great no fail scratch white "pound" cake that you pretty much cannot botch up.

Taralyne Posted 4 May 2009 , 11:00pm
post #10 of 82

I know I have gotten in over my head.

I don't have any intention of being dishonest. This woman decided 4 weeks prior to the wedding that she wanted a cake and still isn't sure how many are attending. She does know that she's want's a 3 tier.

I don't have a lot of experience, but I was recommended to help out.
The design of the cake is,

- 3 tier - 12, 9, 6 - w/ 14" -16" cake board wrapped in fondant and ribbon.
- 6 " vanilla - Filling - w/lemon curd and seedless raspberry perserve. (SRP)
- 9 " Rich Chocolate - Filling - w/ milk Choc and srp.
- 12" Marble - Filling - custard w/ srp
- smooth white BC w/beaded boarder
- Scattered rose petal from organic flourist.

She asked for scratch and I didn't think it would be a problem, I have made them occasionally. My temp. of oven is fine it has recently been adjusted. I have a new fridge, frost free and I'm wondering if that has contributed to my failure?

I've been trying the martha stewart recipes from her new book, the carrot cake is fantastic, but not having any luck with the cakes in question and I've tried each of them. The vanilla cake recipe is Dede Wilson's.

I tried brushing on a simple syrup, but I'm unsure of how much to use and do I put it on before I torte the cake?
Should I spritz it on rather then based?

I'm charging her $180 and that included delivery, flowers.


Thanks everyone for your help and suggestions
I appreciate your advise

rockytop Posted 4 May 2009 , 11:12pm
post #11 of 82

I prefer box. All the cakes that ive ever made were box and I always got great feed back. They cant tell the difference and I wont tell if they dont ask. I would prefer to spend my time on apperance .

HTH
Roger

-K8memphis Posted 4 May 2009 , 11:17pm
post #12 of 82

Friging your cakes does pull the moisture out of them.
I freeze mine.

If these are butter cakes as opposed to oil based cakes you will experience a scraping down the back of your throat (after chilling) because the butter does not relax at room temp--so the cake comes off as dry even though it's just that the butter's cold--and even though the cake is moist--it has a dry mouthfeel.

So this is why I avoid scratch cakes for commercial purposes--I need to chill my cakes for delivery and butter based cakes donot do well after being chilled--they are not the work horses that cake mixes are.

Will the bride be ok switching to mixes?

I mean she needs to get you some totals asap.

Go with the 16" board under a 12" cake.

I use a pour bottle--like a ketschup type bottle-- to apply the simple syrup- I just put a stripe of it like a giant scrollie all over the top of each torte. Like if you were making a maze out of the path of the simple syrup--just go 'round and 'round leaving a little space in between.

icon_biggrin.gif

Taralyne Posted 4 May 2009 , 11:34pm
post #13 of 82

K8,

Thanks for your suggestions, but I need to impose a little more if it's ok.

Are suggesting that I freeze rather then refidgerate?
Can I make a scratch cake with oil rather then butter to eliminate the dryness?
Should I use an IBC or a SBC?
The cake will be on display for aleast 3 hrs.

Finally I don't know how to tell her that I need to switch to mix without looking like a complete idiot.


Any advise?

sjbeatty8 Posted 4 May 2009 , 11:48pm
post #14 of 82

I personally (and everyone I know) prefer a doctored up cake mix.... everything about it is better then any scratch cake I have ever made and I have tried ALOT of them (not saying there isnt a good one out there). I have also been to a lot of bakeries (with some famous bakers) who I know bake from scratch and just dont like them.. too dry and crumbly.

I only bake for my friends and family right now and always think about what I will do if I ever open a shop.... but what I always tell people (if they actually ask) is that I dont know make my cakes straight from a box.... Because I dont, and if anyone wants to challange a straight box cake to mine... go for it!!!!

Lita829 Posted 4 May 2009 , 11:56pm
post #15 of 82

I personally don't use box cake mixes when I bake. I just find that I like the flavor and texture of homemade cakes better. I posted my recipe for a basic yellow cake on CC which can be flavored any way you want it....lemon, orange, vanilla, almond...etc. I think it is moist and it has gotten good reviews by those who have tried and rated it. By no means am I trying to force my recipes on you but I haven't tried any of the other basic yellow cake recipes on CC. I also posted a Deluxe Chocolate cake recipe that I use faithfully which I got of the Soft-a-Silk Cake flour box. I also get rave reviews when I make this cake.

I don't know how much time you have until the wedding, but maybe you can make half recipes of some of the recipes on CC and see which one works for you. Also, you can try cake syrup or coating the cake with apricot preserves, as if you were going to use fondant.

HTH
Darlita icon_smile.gif

MLopardi Posted 5 May 2009 , 12:05am
post #16 of 82

Did the bride request scratch or did someone just tell her that you do scratch? You could mention to her that some people prefer the firmer scratch cakes and some prefer the more moist box cakes, it just depends on what they are used to and that you can do either. If she says she really prefers the scratch cakes, then you know she is not expecting that super moist box mix flavor. You could also bring her (small) sample of each to try if you think that would set your mind at ease.

anasasi Posted 5 May 2009 , 12:10am
post #17 of 82

Personally, I've tried a ton of scratch cakes over a period of two years and they never seem to win out over the doctored recipes. It drives me crazy because I'd honestly rather say all my cakes are purely from scratch. I've even alternated tiers of scratch and doctored mixes, and the doctored mixes win hands down every single time. I guess it's all a matter of preference, but I think that the general population has become so accustomed to the moistness/fluffiness you get out of a box that some of the scratch recipes seem too dry, floury, or heavy for alot of people. I do have to say that nobody evers asks me if my cakes came out of a box, they all just assume they're scratch. Of course, I've only made cakes for friends and family to this point. I'd really like to find a from scratch recipe that I like better than a doctored one, but I think it's much easier to just give in and give people what they want, lol!

With that said, is it at all possible to giver her a small tasting of your scratch recipe and a doctored mix just so she can compare the two? I think that's the way I'd go about it if possible. This way you don't necessarily have to bring up doctored mixes, just go with the cake that she likes best.

anasasi Posted 5 May 2009 , 12:50am
post #18 of 82

Sorry, MLopardi...I just noticed that you said basically the same thing I did in a much shorter version, lol!

And, not to go off topic or anything but I just have to say your cakes are AMAZING!!!!

FromScratch Posted 5 May 2009 , 12:57am
post #19 of 82

If you haven't been doing this long I am willing to bet that it's your technique that is failing you more-so than the fact that the cakes are from scratch recipes. Baking is something that takes time to master. You don't just get it 100% perfect right out of the starting gate. You have to learn what looks right and what feels right. Yes there is a science to it, but you really do have to know what you are doing for it to consistently come out well.

If you don't normally do scratch cakes then honesty is your best option. I'd tell her that you'd be happy to make her a sample cake so she can taste what you have to offer, and if it's not good enough then oh well... you can wish her luck on her last minute cake quest. For the money you are charging, there's no way I'd do scratch cakes. I know that some say that scratch isn't more expensive, but I have to disagree. A box of BC mix and some eggs and oil costs a fraction of what it costs me to make a cake. A 6-9-12 will feed 100 people... that's $1.80 per serving. With all of those gourmet fillings you will more than likely be losing money on this deal so I'd have no trouble sending her packing.

For a chocolate cake you can't go wrong with the Double Chocolate Layer cake from Epicurious.com. It's a simple cake with a pretty much no-fail technique (so long and you don't over bake it) that comes out moist and very chocolatey. I don't have the same problem as K8 does with butter cakes... or maybe the texture doesn't bug me as much as it bugs her, but I chill all of my cakes and have never had one complaint about a dry butter cake... quite to opposite and I don't use syrups. I love Sylvia Weinstock's Classic Yellow Cake recipe. It's a vanilla butter cake and it's very good. I haven't found a yellow/white cake recipe made with oil that I love, but the chocolate cake I talked about above is made with oil... though I sub melted butter and it still has a wonderful moist texture even when it has been chilled.

Just my 2 cents. (okay maybe more than 2.. icon_lol.gif)

__Jamie__ Posted 5 May 2009 , 1:10am
post #20 of 82

Creaming the butter and sugar is very important too. I made the mistake when starting out scratching, of just whipping it up until it was mixed. Not long enough! I cream it now for a good long while, it almost doubles in volume, and the color turns pale yellow, and is light and fluffy.


That chocolate recipe from Epicurious is to die for! I still use the oil it calls for, but it sure is good! Especially with Valrhona chocolate...oh good God. icon_smile.gif

maryjsgirl Posted 5 May 2009 , 1:34am
post #21 of 82

Here is a super simple cake I made yesterday for dessert. The recipe calls for the cake to be baked in a loaf pan, but in the recipe book Dorie states you can bake it in a cake pan.

I found a blog where a woman tested adding the oil at the end as the recipe stated and adding it in the beginning like most recipes. She liked it in the beginning so that is what I did too. I really liked the cake! It is more of a pound cake, but pretty fool proof and with no complicated steps.

I didn't have almonds so I subbed them for flour.

Here is the link to the recipe...

http://cookbookaddiction.blogspot.com/2009/03/french-yogurt-cake-with-marmalade-glaze.html

If you google image "dorie french yogurt cake" you can see a lot of different photos of the cake from different food blogs.

sweet_teeth Posted 5 May 2009 , 2:00am
post #22 of 82

I really think it depends on what you're used to. I grew up on scratch chocolate cake... and will have no other type of chocolate cake. Just as JustScratch (you changed your name!) said, the Double Chocolate layer cake is to die for... and fool proof! I also feel carrot, red velvet, Italian, and coconut cakes should be scratch (based off what i'm used to at home).

On the other hand, I also grew up on yellow cakes only from a box (my mom never understood creaming butter and sugar until fluffy)... so she relied on the box mix. Because of this, I prefer the box taste. I do think it tastes chemically.. but for some reason I like it.. lol. icon_confused.gif

For my customers, I make both. I usually ask what they grew up on. If they like scratch, I bake scratch.. if they grew up on box and prefer box.. i'll do a box cake. If I'm making it for myself and it's a yellow cake.. box all the way.

-K8memphis Posted 5 May 2009 , 12:17pm
post #23 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratch

I don't have the same problem as K8 does with butter cakes... or maybe the texture doesn't bug me as much as it bugs her, but I chill all of my cakes and have never had one complaint about a dry butter cake... quite to opposite and I don't use syrups. I love Sylvia Weinstock's Classic Yellow Cake recipe.




Try testing it it yourself. That's all I did. Put some in the freezer then defrost at room temp--leave some out of the freezer all together. Makes a difference. Reheating (like in the microwave) restores the better texture but of course you can't do that after it's iced. So try it.

I used Sylvia's formula--I use a quarter cup more flour and I add the eggs to the creamed butter & sugar--I ditch two of the egg yolks. I do not separate the eggs and whip them up --I just add them as is (minus two yolks)

-K8memphis Posted 5 May 2009 , 12:49pm
post #24 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by anasasi

...I guess it's all a matter of preference, but I think that the general population has become so accustomed to the moistness/fluffiness you get out of a box that some of the scratch recipes seem too dry, floury, or heavy for alot of people. I do have to say that nobody evers asks me if my cakes came out of a box, they all just assume they're scratch.




The truth about the controversy between scratch versus mix is that 99% of the time it is mass hysteria*. If the person already thinks that they prefer one kind over the other and they eat a cake that pleases them they deem it their choice, scratch or mix, whether it is or not--don't confuse 'em with the facts. The judgment calls are generally not fact based even among pros.

Quote:
Quote:

*Mass hysteria is a form of groupthink, in which several people with something in common begin to think in the same way. In mass hysteria, the group members all develop a common fear that often spirals into a panic. The group members feed off each others emotional reactions, causing the panic to escalate.




Quote:
Originally Posted by anasasi

...With that said, is it at all possible to giver her a small tasting of your scratch recipe and a doctored mix just so she can compare the two? I think that's the way I'd go about it if possible. This way you don't necessarily have to bring up doctored mixes, just go with the cake that she likes best.




Me, I would not open this can of worms at this point two weeks ahead of the event. Because you are then giving control to the bride. You are trying to get her approval. Ugh uh no way would I do this. But that's just me.

When I book a cake I say that I reserve the right to make the cake to the best of my ability. In other words, I'm going all the way with this and I'm not gonna ask you for your decisions going forward. If the cake table is unsteady or if it it's in front of a window--if I have to make a change in order to produce, it's gonna happen and I'm not bothering the bride. To me within two weeks of the wedding is too late to worry her about cake stuff like this.

Oven calibration is different than oven temperature.
Get an oven thermometer and check that temp.
At the end of the bake when the middle is not quite set and it needs to stay in the oven--turn the heat down 15 20 degrees. Tent the foil over it and don't remove it after you take the cake out of the oven.

Doctored mixes are borderline products. They are part scratch, part mix. So it all depends on how you look at it. If the cake mix is an ingredient in your formula like say for example enriched flour--flour is not a pure ingredient--it is a mixture of chemicals check the label on all purpose flour or cake flour. It has stuff in there to help it brown among many other things.

Check the label on vanilla--many ingredients go into pure vanilla extract depending on which brand you use. Those are 'mixes' you put into your formula. Each one of us decides where we draw the lines.

I think you can do this and hold your head up high knowing you used the formulas that perform best and make the best product for the job and are within the guidelines that you booked (the cake) under.

Don't make a dry cake.
Make the cake to the best of your ability to produce.
It's more important for you to feel and be confident right now.

Cake Buddies, lets be supportive and not judgmental to Tara--she's over whelmed and doesn't need the You will burn in cake hell for all eternity if you don't figure out how to bake a scratch cake like a pro in the next ten days. Let's consider extending more mercy than our personal verdicts and scrutiny. Let's let her make her decisions without our hysteria.

When she's out of the weeds she'll do it different next time huh. we've all been there in one way or another.

-K8memphis Posted 5 May 2009 , 1:08pm
post #25 of 82

This is published in The New Doubleday Cookbook and they call it appropriately, White Wedding Cake However it is a little golden in color - egg yolks & real vanilla - I paraphrased the directions to avoid infringing on the copyright.

Golden Cake

6 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups milk at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 # butter or margarine or 1 1/3 cups margarine with 2/3 cups vegetable shortening
(the margarine is not vegetable spread)
4 cups sugar
8 eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind (optional)

Preheat oven to 325.
Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside.
Combine milk and vanilla and set aside.
Cream butter until light, add sugar gradually, continue to cream until fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix in lemon extract (and rind).
Add dry ingredients alternately with milk beginning and ending with the dry and adding about one sixth of the total at a time.
Beat just until smooth.
Spoon into 1 ungreased 13" and 1 ungreased 7" pan lined on the bottom with wax or parchment paper filling no more than half full - this is a high-rising batter.
Bake larger layer 60-65 mins until it pulls from the sides of the pan and is springy to the touch.
Cool upright in pan on wire rack 10 mins then loosen and invert on rack peel off paper turn right side up and cool thoroughly.
If you make 3 batches you get two 13", two 7" and two 10 " layers.
Make cupcakes with any leftover batter.
This is from The New Doubleday Cookbook 1975.

Real good cake. And this recipe is not real fussy - can be halved. Excellent.

Remember that square layers take more batter--check the wilton site for that chart.

Kerry_Kake Posted 5 May 2009 , 1:24pm
post #26 of 82

I personally LOVE the WASC (white almond sour cream) cake. Can I suggest something? Maybe if you decide on a doctored cake mix you could make a sample soon and let the bride come over to taste test it! What do you think?

-K8memphis Posted 5 May 2009 , 1:28pm
post #27 of 82

I use self rising flour in the wasc.

Kerry_Kake Posted 5 May 2009 , 1:32pm
post #28 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

I use self rising flour in the wasc.




What does the self rising do differently than the regular flour?

-K8memphis Posted 5 May 2009 , 1:39pm
post #29 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerry_Kake

Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

I use self rising flour in the wasc.



What does the self rising do differently than the regular flour?




It's got baking powder in it so it helps it rise a bit. Instead of being a plunk of flour where it all has to depend on the leavening in the cake mix--it adds it's own baking powder. Or if I didn't have the self rising I'd add a teaspoon of baking powder myself. But then you don't have to measure the salt either when you use the self rising. Salt is already in the self rising flour.

costumeczar Posted 5 May 2009 , 1:59pm
post #30 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taralyne


- 3 tier - 12, 9, 6 - w/ 14" -16" cake board wrapped in fondant and ribbon.
- 6 " vanilla - Filling - w/lemon curd and seedless raspberry perserve. (SRP)
- 9 " Rich Chocolate - Filling - w/ milk Choc and srp.
- 12" Marble - Filling - custard w/ srp
- smooth white BC w/beaded boarder
- Scattered rose petal from organic flourist.

She asked for scratch ...

I've been trying the martha stewart recipes from her new book, the carrot cake is fantastic, but not having any luck with the cakes in question and I've tried each of them. The vanilla cake recipe is Dede Wilson's.

I appreciate your advise





Since she asked for scratch and is using an organic florist, she probably wants to avoid any unnecessary chemicals, thus no boxed mixes. Since you committed to doing scratch, I'd get a copy of The Cake Bible, which is an excellent book that explains why recipes work, as opposed to just giving them to you. There are also charts for cake syrup amounts, icing amounts, lots of filling recipes and instructions on cake assembly. The white cake recipe in there is good, but if you substitute half and half for the milk, it improves it (IMO)

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