Scratch Cakes Vs. Cake Mix Cakes

Decorating By CarolLee Updated 13 Sep 2010 , 7:04pm by cakeythings1961

CarolLee Posted 12 Sep 2010 , 8:05pm
post #1 of 23

I have a question about the "mix" compared to a "scratch" cake. I get a fair price for my cakes but I do use the box simply because it's predictable for me. I add lots of different emulsions and flavorings and other ways to keep my cakes moist. Lately, I heard someone say (not about my cakes) that you can always tell a "cake mix" cake from one made by a recipe by the chemical taste and that they were a poorer quality. Implying that a "real" baker/cake decorator would NEVER use the box. I want to continue to be considered a professional baker. What do ya'll think??

22 replies
LindaF144a Posted 12 Sep 2010 , 8:25pm
post #2 of 23

I agree that you can tell by the taste and texture sometimes too. But of a poorer quality, absolutely not. Depending on the bakery and stuff, they use mixes also.

I just don't agree on the second part at all and I bake from scratch. I used took from a box and I don't believe one is of lesser quality than the other, just a different taste and texture. And even that depends on the recipe and the cake mix too.

Normita Posted 12 Sep 2010 , 8:51pm
post #3 of 23

This is a very heated debate here on CC....Scratch vs box. I would search for past threads that discuss this very same topic. I bake from both....sratch and doctored mix...just as many bakers here on CC. All my cakes are moist and taste great!! I get many compliments on my cakes and they never ask if they come from a box. You have to be proud of what you make and keep your head up high. Whether it is scratch or box, its what makes you and your customers happy icon_smile.gif Dont be embarrassed if your cakes begin with a mix....there is nothing to be ashamed of...and it certainly does not make you less professional than a baker that makes only "scratch cakes".

Seriously, do a search on this topic and it will answer all of your questions

momma28 Posted 12 Sep 2010 , 9:04pm
post #4 of 23

I agree with normite, this is wuite the hot potato here on cc.

We all have our preference. Im a scratcher, lots of people use doctored mixes.

Mommy2ThreeBoys Posted 12 Sep 2010 , 9:23pm
post #5 of 23

I've done both box and scratch cakes. My husband and kids like the scratch cakes or at least the doctor cakes the best. I use the WASC that they have on here and everyone I've ever made that for in my family loves it. Just depends on what you wanna do.

aswartzw Posted 12 Sep 2010 , 9:28pm
post #6 of 23

Highly debated on CC and people can get really defensive about their choices but there's no reason to! We are all different, all use different methods, and we all produce great cakes in the end.

I prefer scratch because in my own personal life, I prefer natural, unprocessed foods but I still have some cake mixes tucked away for those times I need a quick fix. icon_smile.gif

But for the person who made that comment, some people say they hate scratch cakes because they are always dry and dense. This is clearly not always the case either! Just some person wanting to sound superior by putting others down. I have noticed some cake mixes do have a chemical taste but not all of them. It's all trial and error--scratch or mix.

You do what works for you and what your customers like. That's all that matters in the end.

Loucinda Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 3:58am
post #7 of 23

There is no reason to feel less of a baker because you use a mix.
Do what works for you and your clients prefer.
I do both, but 99% of my clients prefer doctored mixes, so that is the majority of MY business. It it ain't broke, don't fix it. thumbs_up.gif

tesso Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 5:52am
post #8 of 23

BAMM...BAMM...BAMM...shew..wiping brow with arm.. there.. now this topic has finally been beaten to death. icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Okay..so I had to do that..lol..

do whatever makes you and your clients happy!! there is no right or wrong.. I have had clients that wouldnt touch my homemade cake with a ten foot pole. They were too used to the box taste..and everything else sucked to them. so box they got.

CarolLee Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 11:53am
post #9 of 23

Thanks everyone. I'm new to CC so I wasn't aware of the hot debate. I did a search before I posted but didn't come up with anything. I must have searched it wrong. Thanks for the encouragement! I'm sticking with the BOX!! lol

Karen421 Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 12:08pm
post #10 of 23

Hi CarolLee;

I found that if you do a google search, you can find the CC topics faster! icon_lol.gif

cakeythings1961 Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 12:34pm
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tesso

BAMM...BAMM...BAMM...shew..wiping brow with arm.. there.. now this topic has finally been beaten to death. icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Okay..so I had to do that..lol..

do whatever makes you and your clients happy!! there is no right or wrong.. I have had clients that wouldnt touch my homemade cake with a ten foot pole. They were too used to the box taste..and everything else sucked to them. so box they got.




icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif I guess I'm still kind of new here, 'cause I didn't know this was such hot button issue. I make both scratch and doctored box mix cakes, so I guess I just never thought it was such a big deal! Now I know. icon_biggrin.gif

leah_s Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 1:05pm
post #12 of 23

This topic has definitely been beaten to death on here.

I'm a scratch baker. Started baking from scratch in 4H at age 9. And yes, I can taste all the chemicals and preservatives in a box mix.

indydebi Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 1:17pm
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolLee

Lately, I heard someone say (not about my cakes) that you can always tell a "cake mix" cake from one made by a recipe by the chemical taste and that they were a poorer quality. Implying that a "real" baker/cake decorator would NEVER use the box.



This kind of statement is just someone's personal preference and may indicate the type of cakes and bakers they've been exposed to. If I've only encountered scratch bakers that were poor bakers, I could say that scratch cakes were always of a "poorer quality". That would be an untrue blanket statement,, but could be true of the scratch cakes I've encountered in my life.

Pies are a good example for me. I have always hated made from scratch pies. Until about a year ago when my daughter mastered the best tasting pie crust and scratch apple filling I've ever eaten (and I REALLY dislike apple pies .... scratch OR commercial made!). My exposure had only been to bad pies ergo I thought all scratch pies were bad.

In the history of cake mixes, women were judged on their culinary skills as a way to "ketch a man!" and a woman who could bake was considered a "good catch" for a man. When mixes came out, it was deemed an unfair advantage because now "just anyone" could bake a good cake and those with good baking skills felt threatened by those who baked by a mix simply because in the contest for "ketch a man", the playing field wasn't "fair".

An anthropological study of women and food shows that women's status were elevated because they had "the exclusive responsibility of baking bread..... With industrialization, women do not need to bake as bread is readily available for purchase .... and rather than being liberated from an ardous task, women actually lose the status they have as bakers." (Aida Kanifani-Zahar 1997)

An urgan legend states that when cake mixes originally came out with a "just add water" recipe they were not rec'd well. Researchers found that if they changed the recipe and "let" the women add some ingredients themselves (i.e. "Fresh" eggs), then women felt like they had "made" the cake ..... which plays along the lines of the story above. Howeveer the reasoning behind this legend is debated because it is found that fresh eggs just make a bettr cake than powdered ggs. The orginal "just add watr" mixes made cakes that stuck to the pans and didn't bake up well.

It takes a great deal of skill to make a scratch cake and I've seen people screw up a mix like I never thought possible.

Neither way is right or wrong .... they are just different and are liked or disoliked by different folks based on their taste and (a lot of times) on what they grew up with.

Do what works for you. If you like mix use mix. If you want to mov into the scratch baking, then spend some time practicing it first .... don't just throw away what works until you find a good substitute. thumbs_up.gif

(Plz excuse any typos ... my "e' key ... and som others.... are sticking and with th bouncing screens, it's just too hard to go back and correct all of them! icon_redface.gif )

CarolLee Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 1:40pm
post #14 of 23

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain the history! It really helps. I may work on some recipes to practice with.

indydebi Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 1:43pm
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolLee

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain the history!


It's my next new career!! icon_biggrin.gif

mkolmar Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 3:32pm
post #16 of 23

You can be a baker and use a mix. Most commercial kitchens due because of the volume of sales. In fact a lot of fancy scmancy cake designers on TV and challenges use mixes. They just don't want people to know it.

I bake pretty much everything from scratch. When you have someone who knows the science behind scratch baking it makes a difference. The cakes are wonderful and moist with no issues.
I can tell a difference in a cake mix or even a very well doctored one. Not only is the taste different but so is the texture. If it was easy to bake from scratch everyone would do it and there would be no need for a mix. It does take more skill to bake from scratch and produce a flawless product. I know people will disagree with me on that but it's the truth.

Does it matter? Not really. If you are going to bake from a mix, then do so, just be honest when people ask. Nothing ticks me off more then when people lie about it. Have pride in your product. If you don't have pride in using a mix and lie to say it's scratch then don't be in business because you don't have a strong enough backbone or cakeballs to stand it. *sorry about the rant, but I see so much of that on here and it drives me up a wall.*

If you like baking from a mix and that's what you clients like then do so.
Just make sure to stand by your product.

There is a ton of information on here about business questions and advice. Sadly, not all of it is good information either. You have to sift through a lot of BS to find what real business owners are doing. I'm talking about the successful ones who know first hand. Realize you didn't ask about this, but since your newer thought I'd give you a heads up. When I first started I followed some advice on here and wish I hadn't.

Welcome to CC. It's a great place to learn from for cake decorating.
thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

careylynn Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 3:56pm
post #17 of 23

I do both depending on what the customer wants in flavor. Some flavors are easier to do a doctered mix and others are actually much better as scratch. As far as which is better....both icon_smile.gif
I have a very high end bakery near me that does celebrity cakes and VIPs and I've heard that they use a box mix as their base. So, if they can get away with it, anyone can!!!!! icon_smile.gif

costumeczar Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 4:42pm
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mkolmar


I can tell a difference in a cake mix or even a very well doctored one. Not only is the taste different but so is the texture. If it was easy to bake from scratch everyone would do it and there would be no need for a mix. It does take more skill to bake from scratch and produce a flawless product. I know people will disagree with me on that but it's the truth.

Does it matter? Not really. If you are going to bake from a mix, then do so, just be honest when people ask. Nothing ticks me off more then when people lie about it. Have pride in your product. If you don't have pride in using a mix and lie to say it's scratch then don't be in business because you don't have a strong enough backbone or cakeballs to stand it. *sorry about the rant, but I see so much of that on here and it drives me up a wall.*




yesssss.....

cakeythings1961 Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 5:24pm
post #19 of 23

[quote="indydebi"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolLee


It takes a great deal of skill to make a scratch cake and I've seen people screw up a mix like I never thought possible.




There's an interesting article in the Sept. issue of CC Magazine by Summer Stone about this very thing--"Mixing it Up," pp. 62-64. She took a basic scratch vanilla cake recipe and made several batches using different techniques to combine the ingredients. She concludes that the simple "dump method" resulted in a cake with the finest crumb and most tender texture! Of course, not every recipe will work this way, but this was a demonstration that scratch baking isn't always complicated.

It is funny, though, how some folks can't manage to properly bake a cake mix. My younger daughter is in that category...I guess she just didn't get the baking gene! icon_lol.gif

costumeczar Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 5:34pm
post #20 of 23

[quote="cakeythings1961"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolLee


It takes a great deal of skill to make a scratch cake and I've seen people screw up a mix like I never thought possible.



There's an interesting article in the Sept. issue of CC Magazine by Summer Stone about this very thing--"Mixing it Up," pp. 62-64. She took a basic scratch vanilla cake recipe and made several batches using different techniques to combine the ingredients. She concludes that the simple "dump method" resulted in a cake with the finest crumb and most tender texture! Of course, not every recipe will work this way, but this was a demonstration that scratch baking isn't always complicated.

icon_lol.gif




That definitely doesn't work with every scratch recipe!

LindaF144a Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 5:40pm
post #21 of 23

[quote="costumeczar"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakeythings1961

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolLee


It takes a great deal of skill to make a scratch cake and I've seen people screw up a mix like I never thought possible.



There's an interesting article in the Sept. issue of CC Magazine by Summer Stone about this very thing--"Mixing it Up," pp. 62-64. She took a basic scratch vanilla cake recipe and made several batches using different techniques to combine the ingredients. She concludes that the simple "dump method" resulted in a cake with the finest crumb and most tender texture! Of course, not every recipe will work this way, but this was a demonstration that scratch baking isn't always complicated.

icon_lol.gif



That definitely doesn't work with every scratch recipe!




Yeah and ask me how I know! icon_biggrin.gif

Would be nice if it did, but then if it did, there would be no need for cake mixes ever. icon_wink.gif

mayo2222 Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 5:51pm
post #22 of 23

You will find a good number of people on here that can tell the difference, but most other non-cake people aren't able to tell if a cake is scratch or box. In fact most people just assume that a cake from a cake shop is from scratch.

I have lots of people ask me for a receipe and are surprised when I tell them its just a box mix.

Do whatever you feel is best - no wrong or right way to do it.

cakeythings1961 Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 7:04pm
post #23 of 23

[quote="costumeczar"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakeythings1961

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolLee


It takes a great deal of skill to make a scratch cake and I've seen people screw up a mix like I never thought possible.



There's an interesting article in the Sept. issue of CC Magazine by Summer Stone about this very thing--"Mixing it Up," pp. 62-64. She took a basic scratch vanilla cake recipe and made several batches using different techniques to combine the ingredients. She concludes that the simple "dump method" resulted in a cake with the finest crumb and most tender texture! Of course, not every recipe will work this way, but this was a demonstration that scratch baking isn't always complicated.

icon_lol.gif



That definitely doesn't work with every scratch recipe!




Definitely! I wonder if it would work with the Hershey's chocolate cake recipe--that's a scratch cake I make all the time.

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