I am a hobby baker that has been using doctored cake mixes for all my recipes. I would love to try to play with scratch recipes a lot more, but my SIL, who also does cakes, is exclusively scratch... I hate her cakes. it isn't like I just don't care for them... it is that I completely HATE them. She claims that everyone raves about them and she does make a lot of cake for special family occasions, so someone must like them, but they have the texture of cake flavored cornbread. (who are these people?? Do people actually like this?) Does that even make sense? It isn't that they aren't moist, they just aren't smooth and "melt in your mouth" kind of cake that I get from my dr'd box mixes. It is like that stiff, grainy texture of cornbread!!
So, I ask, is that what scratch baking gets you? I certainly hope not, but I think I am in absolute fear that those will be what I turn out. I don't want to provide cornbread to those I make cakes for...
NO. A lot of times when a scratch recipe turns out poorly, it has every bit to do with the baker and not the recipe. Sometimes it's the other way around. There are a ton of recipes out there which aren't worth a damn, and unfortunately it can take a lot of irritating trial and error to figure out which ones are and which ones aren't.
If I were you, I would search for the scratch off threads here on CC. Those threads will give you lots of popular recipes for the major flavor types (white, chocolate, yellow, etc) and you can read reviews of the recipes. There are also several baking books out there which can help you troubleshoot if you're having issues. One which is on my wish list is Bake Wise by Shirley Corriher (not sure if that's spelled correctly). Also Rose Levy Beranbaum's cookbooks are good.
Don't be quick to dismiss scratch baking because of one person's baking. Maybe she thinks her cakes are awesome and maybe her family says they are too because if they said otherwise she may chase after them with a hand mixer.
Make sure you read about proper mixing techniques, especially reverse creaming, which Rose uses with most of her cakes. Then look for trusted recipes which most people have used successfully. When you nail it, then you can start playing around with flavors. Sometimes all you need to do is add some zest, oils, or extracts to change the flavor of the cake.
Thank you for your reply!! I was hoping (praying) that it was just her baking, and really hope that the people telling her that they are excellent were just being nice... but it has just bred a person who thinks she deserves a tv show!
I am a business hopeful, and like to think that by the time I am legal, I have some tried and true recipes that are of the cake flavor and texture I am proud of. I will hit the recipes... any recommendations? I have mostly white cake requests...but of lately, I can't seem to make enough fudgy chocolate cakes!!
I only like cornbread flavor/texture in my cornbread. If my scratch cakes came out like that, I would be swtiching to a mix to have a better cake!
I agree with Annie! A successful scratch cake should have a nice, soft texture and quite a few really do melt in your mouth. They can be wonderful! I love Shirley O'Corriher's book, BakeWise. She explains all of the different mixing techniques and how they effect the texture of the cake. She also gives examples of each so you can try it yourself without too much guesswork. For example, she will give one recipe three ways so you can try and compare. Rose Berenbaum's books are also very good with lots of trouble-shooting tips. Just start reading and experimenting and have fun!
That "cornbread" texture is usually a sign of undermixing.
leah_s... you have seriously just set off that "light bulb" moment!! Under-mixing gives you that texture? You give me hope, and a crazy urge to leave work and go bake a cake...
I will also be looking into those books... the clouds have lifted and am getting kind of excited. I am eager to not be box mix dependant. I would LOVE to proclaim "YES!! I AM A SCRATCH BAKER!!) lol!! Thanks everyone!
Cheap cookbooks and the infinite amount of recipes on the internet are really hurting those who want to learn scratch baking. It seems like a cheap way to get started, but you soon find that the ruined ingredients and the big waste of time is no bargain.
If you stick with the internet, go to sites where the recipes are rated. And I don't mean here. Go where they are rated by families... the people who will be eating your cake. Some great places to start are Food Network, Southern Living, and Better Homes and Gardens. Don't go looking for a cute flavor. Go to the basics first, like white, yellow, or chocolate. Don't change flavors until you have perfected the recipe.
If you are really serious, start reading. The more you can absorb from the master chefs, the shorter your learning curve.
The number one help would be to watch out for the CC threads on scratch baking where the seasoned bakers start sharing a recipe or technique. Jump in, give it a try, and you will have all of the posters for that thread ready to help you with the recipe.
I am an experienced scratch baker with a bakery. I still throw away experiments. You just take notes and do it again. I have had to do a recipe as many as 7 times to get it right, and I'm constantly tweaking my best recipes. It never ends if you get the bug.
Don't be afraid to fail and read all you can. Ask questions like you did here and ask all you want. We scratch bakers love having another convert.
I am actually quite excited to search for a few recipes to get started. I have ordered the BakeWise, by Shirley O. Corriher. I got to preview it on the website I ordered it from, and just by the first few pages, Yeah...add to cart!
I am more than willing to put in the effort, and I think now is the best time to really get off the pot and start learning this skill. I really truly want to break free of the box mixes, not to mention, to be able to claim that they are scratch. I appreciate so much the help I have gotten on CC, and I even more appreciate the advice on books and other websites. I am a nerd and reading is my first approach at knowledge...then comes that hands on stuff... I will let you know how it goes!! I have my neice's birthday cake this weekend... I think I am trying scratch!!