Thought I'd Share My Yellow Cake Taste Test Results

Decorating By SusD Updated 23 May 2010 , 11:13pm by Loucinda

SusD Posted 23 May 2010 , 7:39pm
post #1 of 11

I've been struggling the past month to find a "go-to" yellow cake recipe. It seems to be the most requested of all cakes, and I have yet to find one that gets as many raves as my chocolate and red velvet. I spent a lot of time on here reading the yellow cake scratch-off thread and decided to make the following cakes:

Sylvia Weinstock Original
Sylvia Weinstock New
Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cake
Martha Stewart Yellow Cake (from her Baking Handbook)
The Durable Cake posted here by Heartsfire.

I iced each in different colors with your very basic of buttercreams. I then forced 17 of my friends and neighbors to partake. (It's hard being my friend!)

And the results.....

Heartsfire's Durable Cake was the clear favorite. Sylvia Weinstock's New Yellow was a close second.

I found this VERY interesting as I've been struggling between using box mixes or not. I had one lady, who is also a baker, know immediately that cake 5 (the Durable Cake) was made from a mix. She even identified the pudding in it. But I also had many more comments that it tasted "very" homemade. People also commented that it had a more traditional yellow color. My theory? America was raised on box cakes and it's the taste people gravitate towards.

As for the scratch cakes, I had 2 people recognize the ginger addition in Sylvia's New cake. Those that recognized it did NOT like it. That surprised me because it seemed that the threads on here said that you couldn't really taste it. Everyone else seemed to really like this cake. The addition of the milk REALLY helped the moist factor too.

Martha's cake was deemed the driest of the 5 but had a flavor everyone liked.

The Magnolia cake didn't seem to draw comments one way or another, as did the original Sylvia W. cake. Just "ok".

After everyone had finished the tasting, I told them the results. I then asked how they felt about ordering a custom cake (in the range of $3-4 per serving) and knowing that the cake was doctored from a mix. Everyone (16 people) but one said as long as it tastes this good, who cares. The one dissenting lady (who subsequently asked me to make her birthday cake) said that she would feel ripped off knowing that a $60 cake from a 'custom baker' came from a box. Her direct quote was "I'd rather make the cake myself from a box, then bring it to you to decorate, so that you could charge me less." I put myself in her shoes and I can understand where she's coming from, but it seems that she's in the minority.

So after all this, I came away with a good scratch recipe (Sylvia's NEW minus the ginger from now on) and a much loved doctored cake mix. But I have to say... the leftovers have been sitting on my counter for 2 days now and the Durable Cake is the ONLY one that is still moist... (thank you preservatives that I can't pronounce)... and the only one my family has been picking at.

Duncan Hines, I bow down to you.

10 replies
carmijok Posted 23 May 2010 , 7:59pm
post #2 of 11

[/quote]"The one dissenting lady (who subsequently asked me to make her birthday cake) said that she would feel ripped off knowing that a $60 cake from a 'custom baker' came from a box. Her direct quote was "I'd rather make the cake myself from a box, then bring it to you to decorate, so that you could charge me less." [/quote]

You should have told her the cost would change very little since the frosting and decoration is where the real time and labor is! They just don't understand do they?

sweetiesbykim Posted 23 May 2010 , 8:18pm
post #3 of 11

I found this VERY interesting as I've been struggling between using box mixes or not. I had one lady, who is also a baker, know immediately that cake 5 (the Durable Cake) was made from a mix. She even identified the pudding in it. But I also had many more comments that it tasted "very" homemade. People also commented that it had a more traditional yellow color. My theory? America was raised on box cakes and it's the taste people gravitate towards.

Thanks so much for posting your results and your guest's feedback! I couldn't agree more on your theory and all your comments!! Like your "baker" guest, I have always been able to tell a mix cake flavor from scratch, and love the real butter flavor of a scratch cake -not a superiority thing, just my taste buds. I thought my taste buds must be super sensitive, but my mom didn't bake cakes, so I wasn't brought up on "homemade like I remember" box mixes.
I use the Cake Bible's Downy Yellow with a little extra milk, but I can't wait to try Sylvia's now!! Thanks again for all your work!

sweetiesbykim Posted 23 May 2010 , 8:26pm
post #4 of 11

You should have told her the cost would change very little since the frosting and decoration is where the real time and labor is! They just don't understand do they?

SO TRUE!!!

chefshawna Posted 23 May 2010 , 9:22pm
post #5 of 11

I have also been struggling with whether to use box mixes or scratch. Everytime I make a from scratch cake my husband says he likes the box mixes much better. I feel guilty using box mixes but always get comments on how they've never tasted a cake so good. I will have to try a couple of these also, thanks for all your results!

Doug Posted 23 May 2010 , 9:22pm
post #6 of 11

wonders if you wouldn't be charging MORE for a completely scratch cake.... after all buying the flour, the sugar, etc. separately would cost more than a mix bought on sale. (not to mention extra work to measure, etc.)

confectionsofahousewife Posted 23 May 2010 , 9:27pm
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetiesbykim

I found this VERY interesting as I've been struggling between using box mixes or not. I had one lady, who is also a baker, know immediately that cake 5 (the Durable Cake) was made from a mix. She even identified the pudding in it. But I also had many more comments that it tasted "very" homemade. People also commented that it had a more traditional yellow color. My theory? America was raised on box cakes and it's the taste people gravitate towards.

Thanks so much for posting your results and your guest's feedback! I couldn't agree more on your theory and all your comments!! Like your "baker" guest, I have always been able to tell a mix cake flavor from scratch, and love the real butter flavor of a scratch cake -not a superiority thing, just my taste buds. I thought my taste buds must be super sensitive, but my mom didn't bake cakes, so I wasn't brought up on "homemade like I remember" box mixes.
I use the Cake Bible's Downy Yellow with a little extra milk, but I can't wait to try Sylvia's now!! Thanks again for all your work!




I use Cake Bible's downy yellow also! I loved it until the last time I made it. I baked it three times and it didn't turn out. The color was too light and the texture was too airy. So strange! How much extra milk do you add?

Maria925 Posted 23 May 2010 , 9:41pm
post #8 of 11

Thanks for posting your results. I have been struggling with a scratch yellow cake recipe for a year now! I tested several recipes, finally found one I liked and have been working on perfecting it. It seems I can never get it "just right" it is always on the dry side no matter what I do.

I have other wonderful scratch recipes for other flavors, but the yellow one just continues to elude. I finally decided last night that I'm going to try a doctored mix recipe for the yellow. I just can't take the battle with this stinking recipe anymore...LOL!

I will definitely try the "durable" recipe on here since it got such rave reviews!

Thanks for sharing icon_smile.gif

Majie Posted 23 May 2010 , 9:49pm
post #9 of 11

Really here where i come from we are basically all scratch bakers and we would have to import mixes from south africa if need be. I tried Martha Stewart's yellow cake receipe and was surprised at the amount of butter and sugar she uses! OMG, i cant even imagine it with fondant icing and sweet fillings!!!! Texture, wasnt dry, but moist, buttery and sweet. Oh well, maybe i would have to play around with the receipe, to get it right my way!!!!!!!

yums Posted 23 May 2010 , 10:14pm
post #10 of 11

I kinda feel like it is cheating to use a box mix but I try to think of it as just another ingredient I am using. I buy a bag of flour instead of milling it so why should I feel bad buying a cake mix. The mix is only one of many ingredients added. I have tried too many scratch recipes that I have just thrown away because I thought they were horrible.

Loucinda Posted 23 May 2010 , 11:13pm
post #11 of 11

Thanks for sharing! I have had the same basic results, so it my norm to use a box as the base for 99% of my cakes. The clients love it, and that is who I am here to please! icon_smile.gif

I know that took a lot of time to prepare and report on, kudos to you for reporting it back to us!

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