Do You Feel Like Less If You Use Box Mixes In Your Recipe?

Decorating By Dayyi Updated 16 Oct 2011 , 9:57pm by DaDa561

Dayyi Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 3:17pm
post #1 of 114

Lately I've been feeling less because I use cake mixes in my recipe. Do any of you struggle with not baking from scratch? Do you feel like your cheating because you use mixes? I just feel the cake mixes give my recipes that homey taste? icon_rolleyes.gif

113 replies
ConfectionsCC Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 3:27pm
post #2 of 114

Ugh, I constantly battle with this! I do feel like I am cheating, and I am constantly feeling like I need to justify using the cake mix in my recipes!! BUT my customers LOVE the cake mix recipes, and prefer them over most scratch! Its hard to change to all scratch if I know that the WASC, my only cake mix recipe, IS my #1 selling cake!! If we are going to use them, we need to be proud of them! I know that I have some of the best tasting cakes, and I am not afraid to tell people what is in them!

TexasSugar Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 3:29pm
post #3 of 114

I use cake mixes, usually doctored and am perfectly fine with it. I have always had rave reviews from those that eat my cakes.

This can be a very heated debate on this website and what it pretty much boils down to is:

1. Do what you feel most comfortable with.
2. Do what those that eat your cakes like the most.
3. Tell the truth to your customer if you are ever asked.

Kiddiekakes Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 3:30pm
post #4 of 114

I use what sells and that is mixes...I am not a scratch baker except for a few recipes...I don't feel guilty at all.It is a personal preference and as long as you and your customers are happy...then I wouldn't worry about it!!

sillywabbitz Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 3:36pm
post #5 of 114

I don't feel bad at all. I look at it two ways. 1) Using a mix saves me time because everything is pre-measured. 2) It is tested and more tolerant to "minor issues" such as weather or old baking soda. By not having to worry about the consistency of my product, I save myself time which saves my customers money. I agree, never lie. I tell people that I use box mixes as a base for most of my cake recipes but my Carrott Cake recipe is scratch. My family "secret" recipe strawberry cake is from a box mix. If it was good enough for my great grandmother it's good enough for me.
I applaud scratch bakers...truly. It is truly artisan. But I know that there are times when a scratch cake will just fail and you have to rebake. I am a small , newly starting out home based business. I can not afford that kind of instability and cost.
Also people like mixed based cakes and there are so many flavor options for upping the quality and flavor variety of a box mix.

FYI, a lot of big famous bakeries use commercial bases (ie cake mixes) that just add eggs and water and others pre-purchase frozen cakes. Depending on volume and cost it makes sense.

luv2bake4u Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 3:41pm
post #6 of 114

I do a little bit of everything. My chocolate cake is from scratch because thats what works for me and people like it. Wasc is awesome. You will know what works when you get feed back from your customers and thats all that matters. thumbs_up.gif

leah_s Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 3:49pm
post #7 of 114

I honestly don't understand why people believe that scratch baking is difficult. I'be been a scratch baker since I was 9 years old in 4H.

littlestruedel Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 4:05pm
post #8 of 114

I do a little bit of everything, my carrot, pumpkin spice and red velvet are scratch made and the rest are doctored mixes. In all honesty, I do feel a bit guilty because if someone is paying top dollar for a cake, I should probably be making it from scratch. That said, the doctored mixes are well liked, cost effective and more forgiving then scratch (especially white cake in my opinion).

To address LeahS, scratch baking itself may not be difficult, but having consistent, excellent results is a science, and I think an art. You clearly have years of experience that have probably led you to your excellent results, but I'm willing to bet that in your earlier years, not all of your results were stellar!

theresaf Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 4:06pm
post #9 of 114

I have really been feeling like I should use more scratch recipes, even though I am a hobby baker. So I've tried the WASC and while its good I dont love it and I have doctored other mixes and have a couple of chocolate scratch recipes.

But let me tell you what happened just yesterday. I made an elaborate (for me) mini cooper bday cake for my husband, including the road surface. I used doctored mixes, fancy fillings and fondant covered Ring Dings for wheels. What happened? My brothers sisters nieces and nephews clamored for the wheels! I should have made "blocks" for the car! PS they did eat the rest too!

So my advice... make what you know your audience will eat!

Here's my minicooper if you're interested!

QTCakes1 Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 4:57pm
post #10 of 114

I am a scratch baker. No you are not less, cause of a cake mix. The only time I personally feel someone should feel less, is when a customer asks if they bake from scratch and they lie. Don't care if your phrase it "trademark secret" or "secret family recipe", so you don't have to give your customer a direct answer, your still lying. I say do what you want and what works, but if you can find the time, and the cost, cause it does cost for the trial and error, try a few scratch recipes. You may find them easier to make for you. For me, even though there is more steps, it takes me maybe a couple minutes longer to make a cake srom scratch then it does a cake mix. And it is true a majority of bakeries that I know use a base mix, BUT the ones that I know do bake from scracth are the ones that are ALWAYS sold out and one has even been featured on Food TV.

Apti Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 5:03pm
post #11 of 114

I've been hobby baking for 2 years and feel ZERO guilt for using Duncan Hines as my dry base mix. Once I pour those ingredients in the bowl, I pitch the box and add everything else I want and obtain absolutely fabulous results every....single.....time......

No worries about the weather, humidity, heat, air conditioning, old leavening, cold eggs; consistent results every time. I am a hobby baker and don't plan on ever selling cakes; I freely share my recipes with anyone who asks.

IF I were a professional baker:
I would respond that my recipes are a trade secret and cannot be shared.
If a customer asked specifically if my cakes were made from a box mix or from scratch, I would tell them what I shared above: "I use a dry base mix. Once I pour that dry base in the mixing bowl, I add everything else I want to obtain absolutely fabulous results."
If that same customer expressed reservations, I would invite them to determine their preference based on taste. If I lost a customer because they wanted only scratch--then so be it, they were not meant to be a customer.

A business needs to identify their target clientele, market to that specific market segment, and maximize profit. If your target market is people who buy only scratch--then bake only scratch. If your target market doesn't care, then bake the most profitable, consistent, tasty cakes possible. If that means you use mixes, use mixes and don't apologize.

Torimomma Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 5:07pm
post #12 of 114

I don't think it's cheating because people are paying for the work you put into it, not just the taste. Anybody can buy a mix but can they make it look like you do?

I personally don't mind eating box cake if it is yellow cake but for something more interesting (chocolate, carrot, spice, etc.), I think scratch is better.

carmijok Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 5:54pm
post #13 of 114

Let me ask you this...if you hire someone to clean your house, is it 'cheating' then? I mean anyone can clean a house, right? So why pay someone to do it when you can obviously do it yourself! The point here is that even if someone can make their own cake from a doesn't mean that they could do it better...nor does it mean that they even want to try! It's for convenience! One less thing they have to deal with when producing an event! Can your customers produce the exact same product you can? Can they decorate the same way? Do they know how to stack the cakes, cover with fondant (if you do that), produce a product that is consistent in taste and appearance each time they bake? Wow, I'd like to see the box mix that can do all that!

The bakery I worked for used Betty Crocker box mixes for their french vanilla, strawberry and lemon cakes. They were doctored with an extract and they were delicious. Everything else like carrot and red velvet and Italian Cream was scratch. We had more requests for the French Vanilla than any cake! It's what they used primarily for wedding cakes! Was it 'cheating' because they produced a product that people wanted?

If the scratch baker down the street produces a a cake that is dry, is it still somehow more superior because it was made from scratch?

This question always bothers me because it really comes down to whether you have more success with one way or another! If your scratch cakes are good, then by all means do them! If you have better luck with boxes, then use those! Bottom line is the bottom line. What do your customers like? And anyone who asks just say 'my recipes are proprietary and I pride my cakes on being moist and fresh.'

Produce the best product you can and let the results speak for themselves!

BizCoCos Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 6:14pm
post #14 of 114

My Mother baked from box mixes and they were delicious. I am a sratch baker still looking for the perfect backup box recipe. If you're a box baker and you customers prefer them, great, why lie?

AnnieCahill Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 6:22pm
post #15 of 114

I do a lot of scratch baking, but since I don't have a business I give my stuff away. The majority of my decorated cakes are mixes. So no, I don't feel like I'm cheating. They're getting a free cake out of me so it's my choice how I get to bake. I'd go in the hole REALLY fast if I did scratch cakes for everyone who "orders" from me.

At the end of the day, to each his own. I do believe in being honest if someone asks.

CalhounsCakery Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 6:43pm
post #16 of 114

I only use scratch recipies. I've had to experiment with them over years to get them the way I want, but now that I have my basics down, I can manipulate them just as easily as the WASC. I did try a few WASC cakes, and it just wasn't the same. No matter what I did, my family and I could tell the difference. Others I experimented on couldn't tell, but I do take a lot of pride in being able to tell people that my cakes are from scratch. In all honesty, that is truly a homemade cake. Cake recipies have been around longer than mixes.

That being said, I do believe that people should do whatever works best for them. If you feel guilty for using a box, than don't. If you prefer your results using a box, than do. It's all about what works best.

mariacakestoo Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 6:56pm
post #17 of 114

I would hope I wouldn't feel bad no matter what I used. It's a choice, plain and simple. I choose to bake scratch and only use high quality ingredients. And I market the hell out of that, in a sea of box mix and imitation buttercream decorators, I definitely stand out. But my choice to bake that way, and my choice to draw attention to it, doesn't mean those who don't should feel inferior.

Mammadukes Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 7:09pm
post #18 of 114

I agree you have to do whatever your comfortable with and I also use doctored mixes and scratch mixes in fact my # 1 asked for flavor is the DH banana supreme that I tweek, I feel it's what you do to the cake or cupcakes after the baking that most counts and makes yours standout icon_biggrin.gif

cakelady2266 Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 7:26pm
post #19 of 114

I've been cooking and baking something or the other since the age of 4, so that's 41 years now. I can bake from scratch, but personally I like the constant reliability of box mixes, especially for basic flavors like white, butter, chocolate.

So, no I don't feel the least bit guilty, less, or inferior on any level that the vast majority of the cakes I sell are Duncan Hines mix. It is in no way a reflection of me being a failure or cheat as a baker. It in no way means I can't bake a scratch cake. The box mix is the product that seem to be preferred by the masses. I also offer a vast array of "specialty flavors" that are strictly scratch, that I charge more for. I will bake whatever the customer is willing to pay for. I'm also a full disclosure type person, if you want to know I'll tell you.

Someone once told me that scratch baking is the only "real" baking. And people would stop buying box mixes if they were to eat a real scratch cake. I look at it this way, if a customer likes what you bake and you tell them "oh it's box mix" do you think they are going to like it less automatically? Or if you tell them "oh it's scratch" do you think they will like more automatically? If they like it - they like it, period.

So whatever works, but it's good to know how to do it both ways.

CCupcakez Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 7:33pm
post #20 of 114

it's all about the customer. I've done a blind taste test with a basic chocolate and vanilla, mix vs. scratch. Most people can't tell the difference, some prefer the mix because their palates are used to it.

If your customers like the cakes from mixes, go for it, if not then tweak ...

I'm a home-based bakery & I use doctored mixes for about 2-3 recipes on my menu but the majority are all scratch. Do whatever works for you and your customers.

kmstreepey Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 7:42pm
post #21 of 114

There are very good reasons on either side of this debate - good reasons to use a box mix, like those given from everyone above, and good reasons to bake from scratch.

I bake from scratch always because I personally prefer the taste of scratch cakes. I also like the baking and science part of caking just as much as the decorating. To me, it's all a part of the wonderful world of cakes. I really love developing recipes and getting them just right. I have developed a few of my own scratch recipes and I have very consistent results from them. Some people might not love this part of the process as much and are happy with the results of mixes. To each his own, really.

I also prefer scratch baking because I can control the ingredients a little more and avoid preservatives, etc. as much as possible. Again, this is something that is important to me personally, so I do it. But it does drive the cost of baking the cake itself up and to some, this rise in costs is not supported by their target market. I should also mention that I don't have a business and bake for my own enjoyment and for family and friends. I don't have to worry about pricing on my cakes just yet.

I just really love the control and creativity that scratch baking can give me. To me, that's just as much fun as being creative with my decorating.

QTCakes1 Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 8:08pm
post #22 of 114
Originally Posted by kmstreepey

To each his own, really.

To me, that's just as much fun as being creative with my decorating.

EXACTLY! thumbs_up.gif It is just a personal choice on what you like to do! And for me it is exactly what you said. I LOVE the creative part of baking as much as the decorating. icon_biggrin.gif

cherrycakes Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 8:29pm
post #23 of 114

I recently made a cake for a black tie fundraiser event. I only use doctored mixes (except for my carrot cake) and I was a bit concerned that more "refined" tastebuds would detect the mixes. As I was also a guest I volunteered to serve the cake and I'll tell you, I received more compliments that evening than any other time! Every crumb was gobbled up and I was told that it was the best cake they've ever had! With compliments like that I'll stick to my Extreme Makeover: Cake Edition!

uniquecreations Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 9:04pm
post #24 of 114

I always get rave reviews on my doctored cakes I made a scratch cake one time and it was not liked very well dont know if it was the recipe or me probably me lol!!!! I bake scratch pound cakes and they are very good but have had issues sometimes with them falling and having to rebake but with the mixes I very rarely have to rebake like I said it's probably just me!! But as everyone else has said whatever works and that's what works for me.

BlakesCakes Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 9:27pm
post #25 of 114

No, I don't feel "less". I have no reason to.

My cakes are delicious--and I get feedback on EVERY cake I make, so that determination is made by my clients, not me.

I, like Apti, start with a box, but add so much to it that it's very different when finished.

I entered a coconut cake with pomegranate BC in a tasting competition. I was reluctant to do so because I knew that most, if not all, of my competition would be scratch bakers, but I thought it was a good opportunity to see how my doctored mix would stand up in a crowd.
Two of the 3 judges were Toba Garrett & Nick Malgieri.
I came in second out of about 10 cakes.............'NUFF SAID!!

Oh, and although I did add some mascarpone cheese to the BC to tone down the sweetness...........It was a PS, butter & hi ratio recipe, too. Not a spoonful of meringue in sight.......icon_surprised.gif


cat2512 Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 9:33pm
post #26 of 114

People love my cakes and I use doctored mixes. I don't feel any less because some of the scratch cakes I've tasted are not that good anyway. Some are good, but the whole point is who cares. As long as your customers love your cakes and are happy, why change.

Lovelyladylibra Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 10:02pm
post #27 of 114

well I don't feel less cause people mainly buy the cakes for the looks and a box caker can decorate just as good as a scratch caker. But I feel like Im cheating a bit when I use box cake mixes (only the yellow and white though not when Im making something like root beer or orange creamsicle etc) You would think finding a simple yellow or white dense cake thats most.... and stays moist the next day... wouldn't be so hard but it definitely is. I've wasted so many cakes trying to find a good one. People usually expect you to know these recipes.

Apti Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 10:15pm
post #28 of 114
Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

No, I don't feel "less". I have no reason to. My cakes are delicious--and I get feedback on EVERY cake I make, so that determination is made by my clients, not me.

I entered a coconut cake with pomegranate BC in a tasting competition. I was reluctant to do so because I knew that most, if not all, of my competition would be scratch bakers, but I thought it was a good opportunity to see how my doctored mix would stand up in a crowd.
Two of the 3 judges were Toba Garrett & Nick Malgieri.
I came in second out of about 10 cakes.............'NUFF SAID!!

Oh, and although I did add some mascarpone cheese to the BC to tone down the sweetness...........It was a PS, butter & hi ratio recipe, too. Not a spoonful of meringue in sight.......icon_surprised.gif


Wow! That really DOES say it all. Congratulations Rae!

DSmo Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 11:00pm
post #29 of 114

I don't feel bad about using box mixes... Right now I consider myself a decorator, not a baker. I'm focusing on learning about the decorating and eventually I'll start experimenting with recipes and learn more about baking. (I can bake, but only to follow a recipe, I don't know enough about the science of it.) Everyone goes crazy for my cakes, which just makes me laugh! I tell them it's just a mix. However, I do often add extra ingredients to enhance the cake. I also think people like them because of the cake and filling flavor combinations I use.

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 11:28pm
post #30 of 114

When I make a post here, sometimes I feel badly about using mixes (some people can make you feel that way here, but most people are great). I spend about 6-10 hours on each cake I make, therefore I can't bring myself to take the extra time to bake from scratch too. It's so quick, easy and reliable to use a mix. I'd rather spend my time on the decorating. Reading all the responses here though have made me feel a lot better about it though, thank you all! icon_smile.gif

Quote by @%username% on %date%