Boxed Cake Mix Vs. Cake Batter Made From Scratch

Decorating By KakesbyKerri Updated 25 Jun 2009 , 4:34am by jules5000

KakesbyKerri Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 1:16am
post #1 of 22

So, I am completely new to the cake decorating world. Actually, I have been "practicing" for a year, but the last 4 weekends, I have had at least 4 cakes to do each weekend. Im starting to be convinced that my work is possibly better than what I give myself credit for (please don't judge on the cakes I have posted....I haven't posted any in months)

Anyway, I currently use just boxed cake batter from a grocery store, but Im starting to feel like a schmuck for doing it. I am honest that it is boxed cake so praise Pillsbury for the taste and not me. I feel like I should switch to cake batter from scratch. What are your thoughts on this? Is it normal in the beginning to use boxed cake mixes?

I like for the cakes that I make for people to be super moist so is there a recipe that you can recommend that will come out moist? Don't worry about hurt feelings, please be honest. I will take all the advice and help I can get!!

21 replies
Minstrelmiss Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 1:26am
post #2 of 22

Get ready to be rained on!!

Use what you like best.

Whether it is a mix, doctored mix, or scratch...it's all good and ALL UP TO YOU! Do some taste testing, see what family and the neighbors prefer. Check out the Gourmet Flavors thread...try scratch recipes, try WASC, and Durable Duncan Hines (my favorite icon_biggrin.gif )

HTH and good luck!!

phoufer Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 1:28am
post #3 of 22

Scratch vs. cake mix is a personal choice I think. There are so many doctored cake mix recipes that are awesome. Try the WASC you can search in recipe section. You can do many variations on this cake and it is moist and for me always a customer favorite. HTH

katherinem Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 1:28am
post #4 of 22

If you do a search there is an enormous thread on this very subject.

lainvest64 Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 1:46am
post #5 of 22

This is the great debate...it seems to be discussed quite a bit here on CC. It seems to come down to whatever you like. Cake decorating is an art and most people are paying for the artwork. Of course, they want the cake to taste good but they are usually paying you to make it pretty.

The decorator I always bought "important" event cakes from used box!

howsweet Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 4:00am
post #6 of 22

Check out the WASC recipes in the recipe section. it's a good compromise. But I wouldn't just use a plain mix.

CakeMommy3 Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 4:09am
post #7 of 22

I bake for family and friends, and they have all agreed that they don't want to pay me more for scratch ingredients, lol. So I use doctored mixes, such as the WASC, and the chocolate version, and various others. Another thing I always do is to sift the mix before I use it. It really does make a huge difference. And I always bake at 300 degrees. It takes a bit longer, but the cakes come out really moist and level. Welcome to CC!!

icer101 Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 4:25am
post #8 of 22

lots of people on this site...use mix only.. so we don,t need to go there anymore... indydebi.. has a big catering business.. and she is proud to say she uses mixes only... so what works for each of us is what we should do.. sometimes scratch cakes comes out really dry.. sometime box mixes do.. sometimes people say their wasc does.. so each cake is a challenge. depends on the weather , etc.. i use cake mix extenders. sometimes scratch.. the original wasc...etc. some from other sites.. we want to bake good and moist cakes.. but also .. we are being paid for our knowledge of decorating.. any home maker can bake a cake from whatever.. but all cannot decorate. and they don,t care to learn.. they rather pay. some...no matter the cost.. hth

Gingoodies Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 3:00pm
post #9 of 22

This is the great "unanswerable" question. icon_confused.gif You should use what you, your friends, your customers like. Many people have grown up on boxed cakes and that is what they are used to. If you are wanting to experiment with scratch cakes, you should do that. I use mostly box mixes for my cakes, but there are a few cakes that I will use only a scratch recipe. There is no right or wrong here.

littlejewel Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 3:14pm
post #10 of 22

I'm been decorating for about a year to. I started out using box mixes, they taste just fine. I now have started scratch, just because I love to bake. But there are some very tasty recipes that use mixes that will fool just about anyone.

KakesbyKerri Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 4:22pm
post #11 of 22

Thanks to everyone for their feed back....I think I'll stick with the box mixes, but begin trying scratch recipes just to get practice.

indydebi Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 4:41pm
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Quote:

I currently use just boxed cake batter from a grocery store, but Im starting to feel like a schmuck for doing it.


Why would you feel that? icon_confused.gif Many bakeries across the country uses mixes ..... you buy yours in 18 ounce boxes from the grocery store and they buy theirs in 50 lb bags from the food supplier. No difference.

I believe a big factor is the talent of the baker. I dont' automatically assume anything scratch or anything non-scratch is better because I know people who can screw up Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. If someone can't bake, then it doesn't matter what recipe or mix they use, it's going to taste like crap.

It also depends on the preference of the person eating the cake.

I believe that having your cakes come out consistently well with a scratch recipe takes a very great talent.

If you want to move over to scratch baking, then go for it!! Keep using your mixes while you expand your scratch baking skills and find the recipe that works well for you.

Even tho' I use mixes, there are people who swear my cakes taste better. OK.....we'll go with that! icon_biggrin.gif My favorite story is when people ask me for my oatmeal cookie recipe and I shrug and tell them "It's on the side of the box". They use the same recipe and their cookies don't even come close to tasting like mine.

It's the love and the passion that you put into it! thumbs_up.gif

Price Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 4:48pm
post #13 of 22

I do both. I like the WASC, but I don't like Chocolate cake mix, so I make my chocolate cakes from scratch. It just depends what I'm in the mood for. I do have to say I get great reviews from the WASC.

Here's just one more thing to add to the great debate. I like wrapping and freezing my cake for a day. I think it helps to make the cake moist.

melissad Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 2:21am
post #14 of 22

I agree with what most everyone else has said; it's personal preference. I've never baked from a mix, but I think it's just because I grew up that way. (I don't remember my mom ever buying a mix, so that was more foreign to me.) A mix t would certainly be a time saver, but I also enjoy the baking just as much as the decorating.

If you do decide to try scratch baking and want to pick up a book or two, two of my favorites are: The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum, and Baking, From my home to yours, by Dorie Greenspan. The Cake Bible has just about any kind of cake/filling you could want. It's a big book, but there are very few photos, mostly illustrations. The baking book has a little of everything: cakes, cookies, pies, etc, and many full-color photos.

I'd give it a try and see if you like it. Even if you end up sticking with boxes most of the time, it would always be a nice option to have if you want a flavor that's not readily available in a box.

Rylan Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 2:46pm
post #15 of 22

I started baking from scratch and then discovered doctored box mix. There are many threads about this, you can find it at: http://www.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-forums-search.html

It's basically a personal preference.

newmansmom2004 Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 2:56pm
post #16 of 22

There's nothing wrong with using a boxed mix, especially if you haven't had much success with scratch cakes. I felt like you did when I was using boxed mixes, then I started experimenting with scratch cakes and so many of them were just plain AWFUL. I finally have found a great scratch chocolate cake but have yet to find a GOOD, MOIST, white scratch cake recipe - and believe me, I've tried LOADS of different recipes. I've tried two different WASC recipes since they always get such high marks from CC bakers, but they were dry and tasted pretty bad. I will still use a box white cake mix over doing a scratch white any day. I do, however, like to substitute using milk for water in the recipe, and I usually add an extra egg.

If you're comfortable with the quality of cake you're putting out using a box, go for it and don't feel guilty. There are so many different schools of thought on box vs. scratch that you can't go wrong. It's all a matter of preference and what works best for YOU.

If you want to experiment with some box mixes, I suggest the Cake Mix Doctor book.

CakeMommyTX Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 3:45pm
post #17 of 22

I use doctored mix, and I love them and so do my customers.
I use them because I can not bake a scratch cake to save my life, and I've tried, my hats off to those who can bake scratch!
It all boils down to what works for you and what your customers like, don't let anyone tell you what you "have" to do , just do what you do best, whether it's scratch or box, good cake is good cake!

BillaCakes Posted 25 Jun 2009 , 3:43am
post #18 of 22

I bake scratch, but then again, I live in a city devoted to green living and eating organically so I have a lot of requests for organic, natural or vegan cakes which require me to bake from scratch with no preservatives. I don't have a problem with cake mixes at all and I got my start doing it, but having tasted a homemade butter cake, I was hooked and have never looked back.

I think too, some of the folks in my circle (specifically the non-bakers and non-cooks) have a certain amount of awe for someone who bakes from scratch as opposed to a mix and it makes the experience more special for them. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't think that this is a reflection on who you are as a baker. Whether baked from a box or from scratch, the ingredient that no one can duplicate is YOUR love and passion that you've put into the work of art that you are about to gift someone with for their special event.

Take pride in what you do, whatever it is. As they say... if you build it...er, BAKE it, they will come!

matthewkyrankelly Posted 25 Jun 2009 , 3:58am
post #19 of 22

I use box with a little of this and a little of that, fresh butter and good flavorings. Life is good. Go with what works. When people hear that it is a box, they say'"When I make that it doesn't taste that good." It's the skill and knowledge you bring to the table.

For the record, when I spill paint on the ground, it never looks like Jackson Pollock.

woodruffbn Posted 25 Jun 2009 , 4:09am
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillaCakes

I bake scratch, but then again, I live in a city devoted to green living and eating organically so I have a lot of requests for organic, natural or vegan cakes which require me to bake from scratch with no preservatives. I don't have a problem with cake mixes at all and I got my start doing it, but having tasted a homemade butter cake, I was hooked and have never looked back.

I think too, some of the folks in my circle (specifically the non-bakers and non-cooks) have a certain amount of awe for someone who bakes from scratch as opposed to a mix and it makes the experience more special for them. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't think that this is a reflection on who you are as a baker. Whether baked from a box or from scratch, the ingredient that no one can duplicate is YOUR love and passion that you've put into the work of art that you are about to gift someone with for their special event.

Take pride in what you do, whatever it is. As they say... if you build it...er, BAKE it, they will come!






AMEN! I love my homemade butter cake. To me, there is nothing better. But I have yet to find a scratch choc cake that is any good. So For those I use the old fatihful... BETTY CROCKER!
icon_biggrin.gif

madgeowens Posted 25 Jun 2009 , 4:25am
post #21 of 22

Plenty of people cannot bake a box cake at all..........I know many....so don't sell yourself short. I have yet to find a scratch cake as moist as a box cake....so thats why I stick to that...however I do tweek them...if that makes me a schmuck, well so be it....people love my cakes.

jules5000 Posted 25 Jun 2009 , 4:34am
post #22 of 22

It really totally depends on the situation. Sometimes I do a boxed mix, but they usually have pudding in the mix and I always add something of my own if I use a boxed mix. I make sure that the filling between the layers is special. SOmetimes I add preserves to regular buttercream or just put preserves between the layers inside of your dam.

I am sure that you have heard of the cake mix doctor book. I use it and I do some from scratch also...Most of it is a time issue for me. They don't have to be from scratch to be special if you make them special by adding things to the cake mix like the cake mix doctor suggest or by using suggestions on the boxes the mixes come in. Mixes have improved a lot in the last 20 years and they are by far better than they used to be. I have gained a good reputation as a cook so most of the people I know don't even have a clue that I usually just use straight mixes. Even my husband. They don't question trying new things out either. I have tried some really different things out and always find willing guinea pigs to eat them and give their opinions. Most of the time my biggest trick is using straight cake mixes with pudding in the batter and using preserves between layers or adding buttercream to the preserves or creamcheese or whipped whipping cream to the preserves.

Just experiment with it. I think that you will be amazed at people's reactions to even the simpliest combinations. I have found that people are so impressed with your ability to decorate that the cake seems to taste yummier too!! Don't get me wrong. I know that God has given me the ability to be a good cook and a talent for it, but I think that people are impressed or appreciative of a decorated cake and somehow think that the cake taste yummier because it is decorated. I hope that this is helpful to you in some way. If you want me to I can tell you some actual combinations that I have used.

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