Thinking Of Switching To Scratch Baking... Now What?

Decorating By jenmat Updated 11 Dec 2009 , 3:23pm by denetteb

jenmat Posted 9 Dec 2009 , 11:06pm
post #1 of 15

Hey there~

After discovering and falling in love with a Guinness Stout Cake recipe that is from scratch, I am thinking of making the big switch.

I want to do this over the next year or so, since I know how long it takes to really learn the art of scratch baking, but I really would like to do it, and my menu structure really allows me to do whatever I want as long as I do it well. It may even take me longer than a year, but I am really ok with that.

I am one of those people who likes to know the ins and outs and whys of everything, so I am looking for some really good books that read more like a textbook on baking than just a cookbook.

I have definitely heard of the Cake Bible, but I don't know if I want to use recipes that everyone uses, and I definitely want to keep the recipes "American Style" if you know what I mean, since this is a farming community. (no one around here has ever heard of Genoise or Sponge!)

Are there some really good books out there that some of you have used, or even some Culinary School textbooks you would recommend to me?
Anyone made the switch, and any advice?

Thanks in advance!
Jen

14 replies
__Jamie__ Posted 9 Dec 2009 , 11:18pm
post #2 of 15

Oh heck yeah...CONGRATULATIONS! Welcome to the club! Well, I dunno if you have to go to The Cake Bible. I learned everything as I went, seriously. Lots of recipes tried, lots of them thrown away, lots of them tweaked. Several of my favorite recipes are right in these forums. Buttermilk White Cake, Sarah's Red Velvet, the Double Chocolate Layer cake on Epicurious.com is to DIE for.

Best tip I can offer-cream your butter and sugar WELL. It should almost double in volume, and be a fluffy pale yellow cloud. And not so gritty.

Really, try out some recipes people swear by, and see what works for you.

Oh, and a recipe which calls for buttermilk is always gonna catch my eye. icon_wink.gif

KrissieCakes Posted 9 Dec 2009 , 11:27pm
post #3 of 15

I think it's trial and error, just like Jamie said. Something that sounds good and works for one person, may not be for you. I still haven't found a white cake recipe that I like as much as WASC (maybe I'll have to try that one you mentioned Jamie!), but for chocolate I use the one right off the Hershey tin. It is sooooo good. I recently tried it with a higher quality cocoa and it was absolutely awesome. I also love the red velvet recipe on pinkcakebox.com. Just made one today and I can't stop munching on the scraps!

Good luck...and let me know ifyou find a good white cake recipe! icon_smile.gif

PinkLisa Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 12:42am
post #4 of 15

KrissieCakes -- I use Colette Peters white cake and I really like it. Have you tried it?

I bake most of my cakes from scratch. I like box cakes but just don't feel right about using them in my "soon to be business". But scratch cakes take a lot more time than box mixes. For those professionals, do you calculate this into the cost of your cake?

Deb_ Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 12:58am
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkLisa

KrissieCakes -- I use Colette Peters white cake and I really like it. Have you tried it?

I bake most of my cakes from scratch. I like box cakes but just don't feel right about using them in my "soon to be business". But scratch cakes take a lot more time than box mixes. For those professionals, do you calculate this into the cost of your cake?




Heck yeah! icon_biggrin.gif lol actually the cost of ingredients is more $$ then using a mix so that cost is definitely figured in.

I agree with Jamie too.....you don't really need a book.

The 3 keys to successful scratch baking are....
1)proper measuring/weighing of ingredients
2)proper mixing technique
3)use the best ingredients you can find

Yes, the recipe you use is important but you can use the best recipe out there and if you don't mix it correctly or measure those superior ingredients perfectly it will probably fail.

Trial and error is the best when it comes to finding the recipes that work for each individual.

Good luck....once you perfect the skill of scratch baking you won't ever look back. Don't give up after a couple of flops....I had dozens of them over the years. icon_wink.gif

FromScratch Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 1:00am
post #6 of 15

I love the guinness stout cake too and if you sub coffee for the beer it's just as fab and doesn't have that slight beer taste (which is great don't get me wrong, but you don't always want it).

niccicola Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 1:10am
post #7 of 15

I did scratch baking for the first 8 months when I became legit.

Basically, what Jamie said...trial and error. What works for someone else may not work for you and visa versa.

I use DH exclusively now, always doctored. I just can't seem to turn out a moist and fluffy scratch cake. But, like I said, what works for you may not for me.

So, if you are willing to put in that year or so of research and development, then each month you should focus on one recipe. Make it once a week, tweaking as you go...you can substitute a lot of things in scratch cakes like you can in doctored mixes. (yogurt & sour cream for oil, candy oils for flavor, etc.)

Enjoy it and you'll turn out some great recipes!

Jenteach Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 1:11am
post #8 of 15

I'm exactly like KrissieCakes - I bake the chocolate cake from the Hersey's tin, but I still use the WASC for white/vanilla cakes. I tried a scratch white cake and it was HORRIBLE. No one ate it! icon_cry.gif I'm still going to try and find one that I like though.

Good luck

Jen

FromScratch Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 1:17am
post #9 of 15

Sylvia Weinstock's Classic Yellow Cake is a great scratch white cake (it uses the yolks, but it is very light in color). Moist and light and flavorful... just great, and it lends itself to many different variations too.

PinkLisa Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 1:42am
post #10 of 15

I love Sylvia Weinstock's Yellow recipe?? It's my "go to" recipe for yellow cake. I just baked up six batches....... I find it moist and declicious but my sister and her client found it too dense. I happen to like dense cakes but it seems like many people like the light fluffy texture of box cakes. It does take a bit exta time to make given you have to whip up the egg whites...

Kitagrl Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 1:56am
post #11 of 15

I do both. As I find really "to die for" scratch recipes I use them.

I still use doctored boxes for yellow/white (tried a few scratch, even "good" ones, and not impressed) and also sometimes for kids cakes will use doctored boxes for chocolate but for most others I have a good scratch cake I use for chocolate.

People love my yellow/vanilla so I figure I won't "Fix" that one since its not broke. But I do have some really popular scratch recipes too. I have done tastings where I have box and scratch side by side and people rave over the doctored boxes as much as the scratch ones. Nobody can tell its a doctored box so I don't worry about it.

denetteb Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 2:42am
post #12 of 15

Check out any of the America's Test Kitchen cookbooks or magazines. Available at book stores or check out your library. They are all about perfecting recipes, trying all sorts of variations like what happens with milk versus buttermilk, cream, etc for every recipe. And trying different amounts, etc. Most of their materials talk about the different things they tried along the way to the final product. I just tried their chocolate sheet cake and really loved it. It did have a cumbersome mixing process though.

niccicola Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 11:49am
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

I have done tastings where I have box and scratch side by side and people rave over the doctored boxes as much as the scratch ones. Nobody can tell its a doctored box so I don't worry about it.




Exactly!! I've done this with family and it's funny when I tell them which is which...they couldn't believe it. Unfortunately, the box mixes are loaded up with conditioners and preservatives, but, MAN, they turn out some awesome cakes!!

jenmat Posted 10 Dec 2009 , 3:14pm
post #14 of 15

thanks everyone! I am still looking for that perfect book, but I think I'll check out the library first.
Thanks for the advice on mixing the cakes and measuring. I know it will take a lot of trial and error, but in the end, I'm really going to feel good with the achievement!

denetteb Posted 11 Dec 2009 , 3:23pm
post #15 of 15

I forgot to mention that America's Test Kitchen magazines are called Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country if you look for them. Some libraries keep them behind the desk cause they get taken so often. They also have a website where you can sign up for their online newsletter where you can get some of the info.

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