Mixes Vs Scratch

Business By cakefort Updated 24 Aug 2015 , 3:59am by whitleyjean

cakefort Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 12:54pm
post #1 of 48

I assume nobody even thinks that a professional baker uses a mix, but does anyone ever ask if your cakes are from a mix or from scratch? If so, how do you handle it if you DO use a mix?

47 replies
costumeczar Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 1:01pm
post #2 of 48

Tell them the truth.

-K8memphis Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 1:37pm
post #3 of 48

I avoid answering straight forwardly because it divides the market one way or the other unjustly too in my opinion. I can honestly say I use both and I recommend this approach as well.

I can make a 'scratch' cake with the emulsifiers that are in the cake mixes that are often found offensive by some people. So...

It's such a conflicting subject, I avoid the drama if I'm trying to book a cake. If it's debate time, game on.

Or say something like, I use both but I provide an ingredient list. I mean to me that's not the flagship quiestion for a person with allergies. That's the flagship question for a debate or a put down. Allergies are a different ball of wax to me.

Win Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 1:54pm
post #4 of 48

Welcome to CC cakefort, you are still classified as a newbie so I will warn you that this topic often sets of a string of rather heated replies. Not sure why it stirs up such emotions, but it does. I bake from both. I just think there are some cakes that cannot be replicated from a mix: German Chocolate and Red Velvet are my two. I have never baked a moist white cake (and I have tried many, many recipes) so I use kakeladi's Original White Almond Sour Cream. No one has ever asked me if I use mixes or bake from scratch, but if they did - I'd tell them exactly what I wrote above. I'm not ashamed to start with a mix if I think it provides a superior quality product.

Williamus Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 2:12pm
post #5 of 48

OK...here's my 2 cents. My baking is definitely more about flavor than about elaborate decorating. I really don't the kind of skills that a lot of people who participate on this blog have...and I don't use fondant because I don't like the taste. I only bake from scratch...I feel that the taste and quality are better....but again, we are talking about taste...and well, its a matter of taste. I have good butter cream skills and I'm handy with a pastry bag and I can produce neat, pretty, and well piped cakes....and Only bake from scratch. There are people who prefer the taste of a mix cake. I don't know a lot about this, but there is a flavor additve called "cream bouquet" which is added to a lot of cake mixes. Since so many people bake from mixes, the flavor of cream bouquet is associated with "home baking" for a lot of people. I know a very expensive and famous cake decorator/baker/designer (someone who shows up on TV a lot and has well selling books on the shelves) and she actually adds cream bouquet (available at one of the big baking stores here in NYC) to make her scratch cakes have that flavor that people like!

I make no judgements...it is all a matter of taste.

CakeMommyTX Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 2:14pm
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Win

I'm not ashamed to start with a mix if I think it provides a superior quality product.




Well said thumbs_up.gif
In the end it comes down to what your customers like and how best you can make it.
I bake entirely from doctored box mixes.
Why you ask ?
Well the answer is simple ,I cannot bake a scratch cake for the life of me. If I offered a customer one of "my" scratch cakes they would run for the hills screaming.
It's not that I have'nt tried , I have a million times, and everytime the cake goes right in the garbage, I would'nt wish my scratch cakes on my worst enemy (ok maybe a few of them icon_lol.gif ).
So I bake from a mix, it tastes good, my customers love them, they work well for stacking and carving and I can make any flavor with the same results everytime.
I've never had a customer ask and if they did ask I would tell them I start with a mix and add from there.
If you think about it a mix is the same ingrediants you would use anyways just premeasured and combined in one easy package.
icon_wink.gif

majka_ze Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 2:25pm
post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMommyTX


If you think about it a mix is the same ingrediants you would use anyways just premeasured and combined in one easy package.
icon_wink.gif




Exactly what I wanted to ask. My cakes are from scratch but for some of them I am starting to prepare "homemade cake mix" - meaning pre-measure the dry ingredients and package it in a one-cake-packages. This way it is cheaper for me than cake mix and I can still save some time or at least to move the time schedule.
But will this be a scratch cake or cake from mix???

-K8memphis Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 2:25pm
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMommyTX

Quote:
Originally Posted by Win

I'm not ashamed to start with a mix if I think it provides a superior quality product.



Well said thumbs_up.gif
In the end it comes down to what your customers like and how best you can make it.
...




I'm challenging not at all~I'm making a (hopefully) philosophical observance~isn't shame or no shame an intriguing choice of words--and let me hasten to say a set of words I certainly would also use.

And then in the end it is indeed what is liked--but in the beginning, how do you answer the caker's essential underwear question, boxers or briefs, to shame or not to be shamed but where did the shame come from, the chicken or the egg?

Random scratchy mixed up thoughts for the ages.

CakeMommyTX Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 2:35pm
post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by majka_ze



Exactly what I wanted to ask. My cakes are from scratch but for some of them I am starting to prepare "homemade cake mix" - meaning pre-measure the dry ingredients and package it in a one-cake-packages. This way it is cheaper for me than cake mix and I can still save some time or at least to move the time schedule.
But will this be a scratch cake or cake from mix???




I would say this is a scratch mix cake, meaning you made your own mix from scratch.

playingwithsugar Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 2:36pm
post #10 of 48

Win is right. This is one of the topics that can cause emotions to run high.

My opinion - It's all a matter of preference.

If you prefer to use a mix, and maybe add some ingredients to make it more to your liking, then by all means, use the mix. Some folks don't have the time, patience, or storage space for scratch baking. Others just plain like the convenience of using a boxed mix. Whatever your reason, as long as it works for you, then that shouldn't matter to anyone else but you.

If you would prefer to bake from scratch, and have the opportunities to do it, then by all means, go for it.

I bake from both, depending on the recipe and the reason the cake is being baked. If it's a special event, I bake from scratch. If I am just doing a dessert cake for home or to take to someone's house for dessert, there's a chance it will be from a boxed mix.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

leah_s Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 2:38pm
post #11 of 48

This is always a heated argument and there are a gazillion threads already on this topic. There's little need to open this up yet again.

costumeczar Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 2:39pm
post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMommyTX

[
I've never had a customer ask and if they did ask I would tell them I start with a mix and add from there.
If you think about it a mix is the same ingrediants you would use anyways just premeasured and combined in one easy package.
icon_wink.gif




Ah, but they're not. A scratch cake doesn't have artificial flavorings and added gums and hydrogenated oils. (Unless you decide to put them in there, and I don't know of any recipes that call for that.)

Some people want to avoid those types of addititives, so will ask the question. If you know how to bake, and you have a good recipe, you don't need to use a mix to get a good cake. If you know that your scratch skills aren't the best, and you prefer a mix, use them. Just tell people that you do if you're asked, like you said above.

LaBellaFlor Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 2:59pm
post #13 of 48

I asked the question when I looked for someone to make my wedding cake. EVERYONE told me "Sure, we bake from scratch". Do you know how ticked I was when I tasted the cake & could taste that it was from a cake mix?! I asked for a reason (whatever it may have beeen and who cares if it didn't have anything to do with allergies). I only found ONE person who baked from scratch, and thats where I got my cake. What I don't understand is, if people who bake from a mix find it to be just as good and the same as scratch, why don't you just tell your client "yeah , it's from a cake mix". Why the denial or trying to find a round about way of answering the question. It's just as good to you, then why lie? How about just answering your customer's question with the truth.

conb Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:16pm
post #14 of 48

I bake from scratch because that's just my preference. When I took a baking course the Chef told me that all of the bakeries in our area used cake mix because of the large demand and time. Cake mixes don't rise the same for me and I have found to be much smaller. Some people have asked if my cakes are "homemade". I say whatever works best for you. I think we all strive to produce an outstanding product no matter how it is made.

kelleym Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:19pm
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

I asked the question when I looked for someone to make my wedding cake. EVERYONE told me "Sure, we bake from scratch". Do you know how ticked I was when I tasted the cake & could taste that it was from a cake mix?! I asked for a reason (whatever it may have beeen and who cares if it didn't have anything to do with allergies). I only found ONE person who baked from scratch, and thats where I got my cake. What I don't understand is, if people who bake from a mix find it to be just as good and the same as scratch, why don't you just tell your client "yeah , it's from a cake mix". Why the denial or trying to find a round about way of answering the question. It's just as good to you, then why lie? How about just answering your customer's question with the truth.




Well, "scratch" doesn't mean the same to all people. At the restaurant whose kitchen I used to use, they called themselves a "scratch bakery" and all their cakes were Duncan Hines mixes, and their icing came from a bucket. They thought (well, they were SURE) that "scratch" meant that they made their cakes on site, unlike the grocery stores that bring them in frozen.

cakeymom Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:23pm
post #16 of 48

I called around to several local bakeries just to see if I could get a straight answer. One bakery that touts "Homemade" in it's name, but did admit that their yellow and chocolate cake was from a prepackaged mix. So at least they were honest????????

One bakery whose employee answered the phone didn't know if they used a mix, yeah right - that says MIX all over it.

I agree, it's a matter of taste. But, if I were a mix maker I would be honest and proud enough to admit it. Just me??????

playingwithsugar Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:34pm
post #17 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

What I don't understand is, if people who bake from a mix find it to be just as good and the same as scratch, why don't you just tell your client "yeah , it's from a cake mix". Why the denial or trying to find a round about way of answering the question. It's just as good to you, then why lie? How about just answering your customer's question with the truth.




Because the consumer consciously places more value any product that is described as:

made by hand
from scratch
artisan
hand-crafted, or any similar adjectives

Alternately, that same consumer automatically devalues any product that can be described as:

pre-made
instant
mass-produced
convenient

Consumers will always put a price on the vendor's convenience factor. The more work it appears the vendor has put into the product, the more the vendor can charge, and the more the consumer would be willing to pay.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

MalibuBakinBarbie Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:35pm
post #18 of 48

I understand both LaBellaFlor and conb's comments. However, like someone mentioned above, I have watched previous thread topics turn very heated. Seems people who bake from a mix (or start from a mix) believe that all of the same ingredients are in the mix that they would use from scratch. So the fact that they add a couple more ingredients to the mix essentially makes it scratch. I've also seen people who use a mix ask people who bake from scratch if they grind their own flour, etc. (Essentially saying where do you draw a line with saying something is NOT considered scratch.) I hope this discussions stays informative and positive.

I'm a hobby baker who prefers to bake from scratch. However, for my sister's baby shower, her favorite cake is DH White, so that's what I made (not doctored up or anything). Everyone ~ even my sister ~ asked me if it KILLED me to bake from a mix, and I said not at all. I'd do anything to make her happy. Besides, I keep mixes on hand because I sometimes need a cake in a pinch and may not have sour cream or some other needed ingredient.

I (personally) think people should be honest when customers ask about what is used to make their cakes. Allergies should not be the only consideration. Some people have a preference for one or the other, and to know would satisfy them. If some are concerned about the division of the market with respect to being honest (I see your point), I think if they get creative (don't confuse that with deceptive) about how they make their cakes, I have total confidence they can sell it! icon_smile.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:35pm
post #19 of 48

I don't agree. My BFF went into a bakery and asked if they baked from scratch. The lady said yes. She specifically asked, "So, you measure the flour, butter, baking powder, and sugar. You pour in the vanilla & milk and crack the eggs?" She was THAT specific. And the lady said yes. She was lieing through her teeth, cause I know the wholesaler who supplies there cake mix. And I think people on this site who ask the question of "What should I say if they ask if I bake from scratch, cause I bake from a mix?" know the difference as well or else they wouldn't be asking the question.

LaBellaFlor Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:40pm
post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by playingwithsugar

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

What I don't understand is, if people who bake from a mix find it to be just as good and the same as scratch, why don't you just tell your client "yeah , it's from a cake mix". Why the denial or trying to find a round about way of answering the question. It's just as good to you, then why lie? How about just answering your customer's question with the truth.



Because the consumer consciously places more value any product that is described as:

made by hand
from scratch
artisan
hand-crafted, or any similar adjectives


Alternately, that same consumer automatically devalues any product that can be described as:

pre-made
instant
mass-produced
convenient

Consumers will always put a price on the vendor's convenience factor. The more work it appears the vendor has put into the product, the more the vendor can charge, and the more the consumer would be willing to pay.

Theresa icon_smile.gif





You are absolutely right. If I'm paying high-end custom cake prices, then I want the scratch cake that goes with it. But I still don't see why people just don't say, "I bake from a mix." Just cause people value "from scratch" more, doesn't make it ok for someone to lie or mislead that they bake from a mix.

dsilbern Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:41pm
post #21 of 48

Before I started decorating, I baked my cakes from scratch and was proud of the fact I could and that they were tasty. But they were served right away since no timely decorating was involved.

I found out the hard way that scratch cakes don't always hold up so well. So I do both - a homemade if it's a smaller caked to be eaten pretty soon after decorating. And I do a "speed scratch" (doctoring a box mix) when I will be freezing, thawing, crumbcoating, putting in the fridge and finally decorating the poor thing.

Looking at something like the WASC recipe I can't really decide if that should be considered scratch or box. There is alot more going on than just the typical box cake stuff and the result is a cake with an exceptional home made taste and a texture that holds up well.

Spuddysmom Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:49pm
post #22 of 48

As a hobby baker I bake both ways - I never found a great chocolate cake from a mix, no matter how doctored up and yes, that includes WASC, so I only bake from scratch for myself, and extended family, but no one has ever asked. Funny thing is whenever I've used a mix people come up and say, "Oh, now that's a homemade cake! People just don't know what good cake tastes like anymore, but I can tell, etc."

prettysweet Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 3:57pm
post #23 of 48

Like so many of you I do both. If I need something different like polynesian carrot cake, it's from scratch. But sometimes I start with a mix and that's where the concept of a "mix" goes out the window. I add sour cream or cream cheese, pudding. spices, grated fruit zests, fruit, nuts, grated chocolate, chocolate chips or other chips,,candies, cookies or whatever. Do we still call that a" mix"? I DON'T THINK SO.We should develop a name for those batter that start with term "mix" and are nothing like the product that would result if you just followed the directions on the box.

-K8memphis Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 4:02pm
post #24 of 48

Riddle me this one, Batman.

Tons of consumers call a cake by one method or the other, "this is a great scratch cake" or "Mom couldn't turn out a cake mix like this" when in truth a great percentage of them A.) cannot tell and B.) are dead wrong about it.

So it's up to me to divide my suctomer (sic) base and educate the masses? Naw, too much unrewarding work for me.

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

I totally have a box of cake emulsifier and just any minute now I'm gonna bake a 'scratch cake" with it. Seriously, I'm planning a mildly scientific taste test too--seriously. Don't hold your breath exactly but it's coming.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~from Alber Uster:

Quote:
Quote:

Basic Cake - Jilk

Category: Pastry
Yield: 1 batch equals 2 - 10" cakes

American/ Metric ~Ingredients ~cost


1 lb 2 oz 510 g Eggs $ / lb $ 1.03
11 oz 312 g Water $ / lb $ 0.01
1 lb 2 oz 510 g Sugar $ / lb $ 0.43
2 oz 57 g Jilk Cake Emulsifier 023001 $ 3.19 / lb $ 0.40
1 lb 10 oz 737 g Cake Flour $ / lb $ 3.25
?oz 14 g Baking Powder $ / lb $ 0.08
11 oz 312 g Butter $ / lb $ 2.74
?oz 14 g Vanini Lemon Rappe 008019 $ 10.24 / lb $ 0.32
?oz 14 g Frutta Prima Vanilla Bean w/ Seed Compound 011001 $ 30.27 / lb $ 0.95

For chocolate cake, add melted Confiseur D'or Unsweetened Cocoa Paste
8 oz 227 g Confiseur d'Or Unsweetened Cocoa Paste, large 505056 $ 5.54 / lb $ 2.77

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Total cost per Batch: $ 11.97
Total cost per - 10" cakes: $ 5.98

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Preparation:

Basic Cake
Ÿ Place eggs and water in mixing bowl.
Ÿ Scale jilk with sugar and add to bowl.
Ÿ Gently mash jilk into small pieces.
Ÿ Add flour and baking powder.
Ÿ Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
Ÿ Add softened butter.
Ÿ Mix all ingredients at high speed for approx. 3-5 minutes.
Ÿ Place mix into cake rings or cake pans.
٠Bake at 400-420̼F (204-216̼C).


Important Info
Ÿ When mix forms peak, stop machine immediately.
٠Jilk requires a 25-50̼F higher baking temperature.
Ÿ Store jilk at room temperature.
Ÿ Never stir jilk paste.
Ÿ Always use a spoon to remove jilk from its container.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How 'bout them cranberries?

CakeMommyTX Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 4:14pm
post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

, "So, you measure the flour, butter, baking powder, and sugar. You pour in the vanilla & milk and crack the eggs?"




I do all that and I start from a mix, so does that mean I bake from scratch after all?

Where is the line drawn between scratch and mix?

Yes I start with a mix but the end product is not a straight box cake, I actually add everything a "scratch" cake would need, just in addition to the mix, so what category does that put me in?

Is it the additives and preservatives that separate mix from scratch?

Because I just read the ingredients on some powdered sugar and flour and they both have stuff added to them other then "flour and sugar", some things prevent caking others add nutrients back into the flour that is lost during the bleaching process.

And what if I use clear vanilla? That is an artificial flavor, does that mean I can make a white cake completely from scratch but the minute I add clear vanilla it loses its "quality" due to an artificial flavor?

So what is a good additive versus a bad one?

Which ones define scratch?



~Not trying to start or add to the drama these are just questions Iâve always wanted to ask, I usually stay out of these debates but Iâm curious as to what yall think about this?




edited to change "bake" to "start"

tx_cupcake Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 4:29pm
post #26 of 48

Poor thing.
LL

__Jamie__ Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 4:44pm
post #27 of 48

Speaking to a client: (because God forbid anyone in here take it directly, which some still do....ahhh, it never ends) icon_biggrin.gif

A. I prepare all of my cakes from the finest ingredients. Fresh eggs and butter, crushed vanilla beans, and gourmet imported chocolates. No box mixes here! Ever!

Now, if that were directed as a general statement, woooooooo boy, would that enrage some people in this forum!

So...do whatever works for you. That's what I do....what works for me. icon_smile.gif

costumeczar Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 5:17pm
post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMommyTX

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

, "So, you measure the flour, butter, baking powder, and sugar. You pour in the vanilla & milk and crack the eggs?"



I do all that and I start from a mix, so does that mean I bake from scratch after all?

Where is the line drawn between scratch and mix?

edited to change "bake" to "start"




Well, the OP asked what to say if a client asks if you use a mix. I'd say that it's a pretty clear line, that if you open a box of cake mix when you're making the batter, the answer is that you're using a mix. And not baking from scratch, which doesn't involve mixes.

The basic distinction between mixes and scratch baking is that mixes use emulsifiers and additives to give a consistent batter, so that my 7-yr-old neighbor or my grandmother can mix it according to the directions and get the same result. That's why bakeries use mixes, so that any employee will get a consistent result regardless of baking skill. If you want to add an emulsifier to a scratch cake, that would just say to me that you don't know how to bake well enough to get a good batter without it, not that scratch and mixes are the same thing.

So, to answer the OP's question again, if someone asks you "do you use a mix," and you opened a mix to make the batter, regardless of how much other stuff you added to it, the answer is yes. And if you used a mix, you're not baking from scratch, regardless of how much you try to convince yourself you are.

And now I'm going to go open one of those bags of frozen pasta dinners that Bertolli makes, add some broccoli to it, and if anyone asks whether I made it from scratch I'll tell them no. Maybe I'll feed some of it to the dead horse.

cakeymom Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 5:31pm
post #29 of 48

I would define "Scratch" as ONLY using fresh eggs, butter, cream, sour, cream, buttermilk, etc.

Then having measured the flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, etc.


Then, mixing the two together.

To me, saying that scratch is a combo of prepackaged store bought ingredients and then adding to that is considered just what it is a "Doctored Mix" and for one to say that this is scratch baking is splitting hairs?????

But, in the end if the client is happy and the baker is happy use what you like and what produces the best product for those involved. I just don't care for that and so I ONLY do Full scratch baking.

cakeymom
thumbs_up.gif

-K8memphis Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 5:35pm
post #30 of 48

Here it is from my friend, Merriam (Webster of course)

Quote:
Quote:

â from scratch 1 : from a point at which nothing has been done ahead of time <build a school system from scratch>
2 : without using a prepared mixture of ingredients <bake a cake from scratch>




http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scratch

So I will be making a cake from scratch that incorporates emulsifiers and some non-scratch ingredients like vanilla and flour and chocolate because those ingredients contain a mix of other ingredients.

The definition of 'scratch' is getting kinda fluid. Fluid as in overflowing it's banks.

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