CharismaticMom Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:16am
post #1 of

Hey everyone! I know this probably comes up every few minutes, but I am wondering about making a cake for a client from a box, vs. doing it from scratch? Does this take away from the value/authenticity of the cake? It's just that my chocolate cake recipe STINKS!!! I'd rather have a good-tasing cake from a box than worry about whether or not they'll like my recipe!!

TIA for the expertise!

43 replies
__Jamie__ Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:27am
post #2 of

Gotta do what's comfy for ya. Personally, there are two things I pride myself on. Scratch recipes and darn good looking cakes. Kind of like the moon and stars, the night and day, the stop and go for me. Yin and yang and all that jazz. But like I said, it's what you and your customers like. icon_smile.gif

cathyscakes Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:29am
post #3 of

I seem to have more problems with white cakes from scratch, always looking for a good recipe, still like doctored white cake mix recipes better. I usually think white cakes from scratch tastes floury, dry, flat, I haven't found the perfect recipe for it. I wouldn't feel bad about using a mix, alot of people on cc use mixes, they usually doctor them, so its like your own recipe.

makeminepink Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:31am
post #4 of

I agree. Sometimes I think you can't beat a doctored mix. For instance, I haven't found a white cake that I like as well as WASC. I like the flavor of the scratcj cakes, but they're dry. And I'm sure I didn't overbake. Chocolate, however, is different. I did try the chocolate WASC, but it wasn't all that chocolatey even with brownie coffee! But it was good! I have a recipe from foodnetwork.com-- Ina Garten's Beatty's chocolate cake. There are good chocolate recipes out there. I'm sure there are good white as well. I just haven't baked one yet!

sugarMomma Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:36am
post #5 of

The only moist scratch chocolate cake I have made is Guiness Chocolate Stout. Yumm! But i do use a lot of doctored mixes and everyone loves them, and nobody knows (except the people I tell).

CakeMakar Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:43am
post #6 of

I just tried the Chocolate Buttercake on the Smitten Kitchen's site. I love it and the customer I made it for loved it too. It baked up nicely. If you give it a try, please let me know how it did for you.

soygurl Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:43am
post #7 of

Have you tried Amazon Chocolate cake? There are a bunch of hits on google, but they're all the same from what I can see. It's really easy, keeps well (at the bakery I work at, we make huge batches that get used over several days), and is cheap because it doesn't use eggs or dairy.

I can always taste the chemicals in box mixes. Even doctored ones usually (though I do have a doctored chocolate cake I use occasionally). But some people only like box mixes it seems. I think it depends on what you "grew up on" usually.

madgeowens Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 5:02am
post #8 of

I use cake mix, and hald the time I doctor it, and people go crazy for my cakes. They are very moist.

No-goodLazyBum Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 1:55pm
post #9 of

I agree with a statement made earlier "... It's what you and your customers like." (with an emphasis on customer). I do both scratch and mix recipes for most of my cakes. Which one I use depends on the customer, the occasion, and/or the cake they choose. In my small experience the scratch vs mix choice is more or less driven by competition, the customer's preference, and/or sometimes cost. I think (IMO) focusing on the customer(s) takes the tension out of that debate. As long as you are not telling stories about what you offer, I would think you'd be fine either way.

cakesdivine Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 2:42pm

I do both, most of my cakes are doctored mixes but there are a few cakes that I do from scratch but mostly I use the mixes.

Deb_ Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 2:48pm

The secret to a great "from scratch" chocolate cake is you have to use very high quality chocolate.....no Hershey's, Nestle, Baker's etc. Spend the extra money and buy Callubet, Ghiradelli, Godiva etc.


Try Toba's Chocolate Fudge Cake (found in our Chocolate Scratch Off thread in the General forum, recipe on page 5 of that thread). It's knock your socks off chocolaty and very moist. It's a simple scratch recipe in that you throw everything in the bowl, mix it up and then add the melted chocolate. No creaming of the butter/sugar, no whipping egg whites. Easy peasy!

sweet-thing Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 2:53pm

I agree with everyone else in that a doctored cake mix can taste wonderful and many people prefer that taste. I use both depending on the cake I am making and the flavor I want.

snarkybaker Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:03pm

To me, a cake from a mix is like a painting from a paint by number kit. It may be pretty, but it has no soul.

This recipe is very good. ( http://www.scharffenberger.com/re0216.asp), although I use Felchlin Cocoa. It has 24% cocoa butter and is just amazing. You can buy it online @ www.scff.com.

Only you can decide whether you wish to persue the art of scratch baking. I personally believe that the baking is more important than the decorating, but everyone is different in that respect.

chanda Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:17pm

After years of bad luck with scratch recipes, I found a recipe book I like. The two cakes that I have tried were great. I am going to use them from now on, but they are time consuming and expensive!!! The book is Cake LoVe by Warren Brown. I made a lemon cake and a banana cake from his recipes and they were yummy!! Finally!!!! icon_smile.gif

rayandmarta Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 4:56pm

I tried this recipe and was very pleased with it. Good flavor and very moist.
www.bestmoistchocolatecakerecipe.com

Narie Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 6:24pm

I normally prefer scratch cakes; however, this is an excellent 'start with a box mix recipe.' http://www.cakecentral.com/cake_recipe-2163-0-Darn-Good-Chocolate-Cake.html It rivals what I make from scratch. As far as the 'other start with the box mix recipes' are concerned I personally don't care for them, particularly WASC, which most people seem to like, it reminds me of a hockey puck. As was said earlier, make what you and your customers prefer. You are offering a home baked product whether you start from scratch or start with box mix. For favorite scratch chocolate cake recipes, I like Hershey's Black Magic cake.

DreamCakesOnline Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 2:56am

I'm going to have to agree/disagree on the Hershey's chocolate cake. I have tried to make a lot of different chocolate cakes over the years and the one that rings my chimes is the deep dark chocolate cake recipe on the Hershey's site. Uses their dark cocoa but I usually mix it about half and half with regular cocoa. It always comes out really moist and just the right amount of chocolaty richness for me (I like to eat mine with a glass of milk). It's actually the only purely scratch cake that I do regularly. Otherwise, I do doctored mixes. Most of the time, my scratch cakes come out too flat or doughy tasting even after overbaking them. Besides, my peeps rave about the doctored mixes and, as long as they like them, it's cheaper to go that route.

Adevag Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 3:25am

Anything you can stand behind, and if you don't have a scratch recipe at the moment that you are happy with you can use a box as an exception but still keep trying for a scratch one for you to keep.
I have never used a box in my life and never eaten a cake made from a box so I don't know what they taste like. (I have only lived in the US for 6 years so I did not grow up on the "artificial taste"). Personally I use mainly organic ingredients and "real" flavorings. I would never want to feed my kids chemicals and ingredients I can't even pronounce so I would not give it to anyone else either.
One thing I was wondering is how, for bakers in business, it becomes profitable to use cake mixes? You must pay much more for ingredients that way. Just curious...

DreamCakesOnline Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 4:57am

Ahhh.... I am a former cost accountant so costing was my profession... I just did a spreadsheet on my favorite Hershey's chocolate cake recipe and for one batch to make 2 - 8" rounds, just for flour, sugar, cocoa, milk, baking powder and baking soda, I am up to almost $2.00 for a batch, just based on the grocery costs (don't forget the 8% sales tax on top of that extra money). I didn't even do the salt, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract (a deal killer). Not including gas that is going to be higher based on different batch amounts in each ingredient's packaging which would more than likely necessitate more trips to the store to keep stock on hand. There's also storage considerations and a cost for that. As well as refrigeration of the milk (not counting the refrigeration of the eggs because both the box and the scratch use about the same). I can buy a box mix that makes the same amount of cake for less than $1.00 at Walmart and I have not included any ingredients in my costing that would be used in both (i.e., vegetable oil and eggs). My experience is that I pay at least twice as much to make a scratch cake over a mix. However, once I start doctoring my mix, the difference is less. Possibly only a 40-50 cents per batch cost savings using the mix. Over the course of a wedding cake, where I would use about 20 batches, that's a $20 difference on straight mix and approximately a $10 difference on a doctored mix. Now, for people who are charging $500 for a cake, that's negligible. However, I live in one of the most economically depressed counties in one of the hardest hit states in the country and I have unemployed young couples who can't afford $250 for a cake (and half their family is out of work so the grandparents are probably paying for it) or have non-professional family members making the cakes themselves in order to save money they don't have. So, to be able to make a cake at all, I have to be cost-effective and I can't sell a scratch cake where I can't get the money to pay for it. People here love my cakes and my icing and they like the prices even more. It's fine to be snob among your colleagues but where I live people have simpler tastes and it'll keep you from working.

jlynnw Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 5:25am

Ya know it is really funny. I have baked many scratch cakes that people usually go nuts over. Italian cream, chocolate, true white and yellow, lemon etc. I recently had to made a cake spur of the moment. I used a cheap mix and purchased premade icing from Sam's. I got more rave review on the cake. Several people commented on how nice it was to have a cake not from a mix. "I can tell a box mix from scratch every time and this is most certainly scratch" was a comment from a pastry chef who ate the box mix. He still loves my scratch recipe but did ask for my "other" cake. He was shocked to find out it was a doctored box mix. Bottomline??? Do what you are comfortable with and your clients like. The rest is a tired arguement that will never end.

Adevag Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 12:49pm

That's interesting numbers. I would never have thought scratch cakes would cost more. But I have to say, I still prefer scratch cakes when you can decide your own ingredients (like good chocolate, vanilla etc). But then, I only bake for friends and family. When you are in business, I understand it's different and that you need to adapt to the customers' needs. Sometimes I have been thinking about buying a box mix just to try and see if it's different at all. But most mixes have so many preservatives and additives and food colorings...

tracycakes Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 1:30pm

I have some scratch and some doctored mixes. I love Hershey's scratch chocolate cake but I'm haven't tried to make a large cake and cover it with fondant. I"m just afraid it won't hold up. Another time, I made a chocolate cake with doctored mix and was told that it was the best chocolate cake ever!

Everyone LOVES WASC! However, carrot cake HAS to be from scratch. I just wish I could find a strawberry cake, mix or scratch, that I like. icon_cry.gif

I think it's whatever you and your customer like.

-K8memphis Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 1:45pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlynnw

... "I can tell a box mix from scratch every time and this is most certainly scratch" was a comment from a pastry chef who ate the box mix. He still loves my scratch recipe but did ask for my "other" cake. He was shocked to find out it was a doctored box mix.




I love this. I mean my plan A is to try and avoid the whole issue and I'm not pleased to have to myth bust someone to their face especially a fellow professional but it just could not be more true.

It's an aura that's created. It's the emperor's new clothes. It's a myth.

I'm sure there are some folks who can detect artificial flavoring--I can sometimes like in icing and I don't think I have a super palate--but most of us cannot in a baked good.

Most of us, like 99% or more would fail a test that determines if the ingredients were combined from a list of ingredients or from a box. You know it's true.

Everything is a chemical.

'Organic' vanilla = orchids

DreamCakesOnline Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 4:51pm

I agree. And talking about preservatives when it comes to baked goods is like looking at a particular tree in the forest. 90% of what you buy these days has something added to it in manufacturing so, unless you live on a farm and grow it all yourself, you're getting it from all sides anyways. If you eat store bought bread or bagels, you're getting it. Even a lot of the ingredients you're putting in your cakes, like those expensive chocolates, have stuff in them to preserve them because they don't know how long it will take you to buy them from the store. And, when you add in the cost of all your expensive flavorings, you're greatly increasing your cost on the cake. It's a selling point, to be sure, but if your customer doesn't care, it's a mute point. Kind of like when a guy was trying to sell me a car one time and was pointing out the racing stripes to justify the cost of the car. Told him I didn't care about them, go ahead and remove them and drop the price. If you're baking in an area that requires high-end ingredients (like Hollywood or Manhatten?) then it does make a difference to the customer but only because they have an image themselves to protect. Most of the rest of the world couldn't taste the difference anyway.

Narie Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 5:00pm

Scratch cakes are definitely more expensive. We can't compete with the large companies buying ingredients in bulk the way they do. Those savings are passed on to us in the price of the mix. As far as the chemicals and artificial flavorings/colors are concerned, even baking from scratch doesn't eliminate those. Check the labeling for each of your ingredients. As I said earlier I prefer scratch, but that is personal preference. One exception to that is Angel food cakes-Box mix all the way on that one.

majormichel Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 5:03pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamCakesOnline

I agree. And talking about preservatives when it comes to baked goods is like looking at a particular tree in the forest. 90% of what you buy these days has something added to it in manufacturing so, unless you live on a farm and grow it all yourself, you're getting it from all sides anyways. If you eat store bought bread or bagels, you're getting it. Even a lot of the ingredients you're putting in your cakes, like those expensive chocolates, have stuff in them to preserve them because they don't know how long it will take you to buy them from the store. And, when you add in the cost of all your expensive flavorings, you're greatly increasing your cost on the cake. It's a selling point, to be sure, but if your customer doesn't care, it's a mute point. Kind of like when a guy was trying to sell me a car one time and was pointing out the racing stripes to justify the cost of the car. Told him I didn't care about them, go ahead and remove them and drop the price. If you're baking in an area that requires high-end ingredients (like Hollywood or Manhatten?) then it does make a difference to the customer but only because they have an image themselves to protect. Most of the rest of the world couldn't taste the difference anyway.




Dreamcakesonline, you truly are an Accountant. Very analytical in a good way. I am studying accountant now.

You brought up a few good points.

DreamCakesOnline Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 5:07pm

Four year degree and all... icon_biggrin.gif

Also majored in marketing and management (triple threat...) and I've owned and run businesses for 20 years...

cakesweetiecake Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 5:30pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkybaker


Only you can decide whether you wish to persue the art of scratch baking. I personally believe that the baking is more important than the decorating, but everyone is different in that respect.




I agree! I say bake whatever you are comfortable with. No matter which way you go, you are not going to please everyone. And I dont think you are going to get a clear answer here as everyone does what's comfortable for them. I think all of us could come up with reasons (i.e. cost, convenience, etc.) to justify why we do what we do. Baking from scratch is the only way for me. I've loved baking long before I discovered cake decorating. However, this is what works for me. As much as I love baking from scratch, I dont feel a need to defend my reasons why or even try to convince others to bake from scratch. I think you have to decide what's best for you.

Kandy4283 Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 5:34pm

I am right there with ya! My scratch is nasty and it's almost like a pound cake, so I prefer to use box and add some stuff to jaz it up! I normally add pudding mix to the cake or cocoa powder or even choc chips melted down...there is so much to jaz them up with! I also have the cake doctor book that helps alot! That is the best book to get and it shows you how to jaz up ANY box cake mix ANY way possible!

Yankie Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 5:41pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesweetiecake

Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkybaker


Only you can decide whether you wish to persue the art of scratch baking. I personally believe that the baking is more important than the decorating, but everyone is different in that respect.



I agree! I say bake whatever you are comfortable with. No matter which way you go, you are not going to please everyone. And I dont think you are going to get a clear answer here as everyone does what's comfortable for them. I think all of us could come up with reasons (i.e. cost, convenience, etc.) to justify why we do what we do. Baking from scratch is the only way for me. I've loved baking long before I discovered cake decorating. However, this is what works for me. As much as I love baking from scratch, I dont feel a need to defend my reasons why or even try to convince others to bake from scratch. I think you have to decide what's best for you.




I too agree..I love baking from scratch...from time to time I'll bake a box mix for my family.....I have a problem with business owners using these mixes and selling it to customers as if it was a scratch cake. I think when someone goes into a bakery they expect a scratch cake...and I dont believe they would ask if it is or not...just because I think is expected. This is my opinion.

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