Luciano Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 2:43am
post #1 of

Hello CC community,

Before all, I wanted to thank you for keeping up with this great site, it really is an amazing source for cake decorating.

I would really like to know your opinion about making a cake from scratch vs. using the boxed cake mixes.
I know this topic might have been discussed and posted several times (please don't kill me).

The reason I asked is because as a newbie, I use mostly cake mixes (DH works really well for me). However I was asked by people a few times (who usually knows nothing about cake decoration) if I made the cake from scratch and they act surprised (without even trying the cake) when I tell them I used cake mixes; someone joked and told me I was a 'cheater'; of course it was a joke (or was it?) icon_redface.gif

Sometimes TV shows or professional bakers seem to crucify whoever uses a cake mix. On the other hand, I know of many people who use cake mixes all the time (even my experienced Wilton instructor)
I managed to make a great Red Velvet cake from scratch so far (thanks to this site) but this topic always makes me wonder if using a cake mix boxes is really a way of cheating?

Sorry about the length of this post...what do you guys think? icon_biggrin.gif

I welcome any recipe you would like to share icon_lol.gif

50 replies
Cupcakeboy85 Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 2:56am
post #2 of

When I first started baking I used box mixes but after awhile I decided to bake from stratch I truly believe it taste better than box mixes . In my opinion it is cheating cause you only putting in eggs, oil or wate. Some people doctored up their cake mixes by puttimng other ingredients. It's whatever you feel comfortable, I suggest to branch some more and bake from scratch and see from there. good luck!

jason_kraft Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 3:00am
post #3 of

This topic has indeed been discussed many times before and usually devolves into a flame war. Here are the past topics:

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=&q=scratch+vs.+mix+site%3Acakecentral.com

There's really no right answer -- some people prefer scratch, and some prefer mixes. Mixes are definitely not "cheating", it's just a different process.

carmijok Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 3:19am
post #4 of

I use doctored box mixes for some flavors and scratch for others. If you use a box mix remember to sift it. It makes a difference in the texture I think...plus it sifts out the hard little lumps that won't dissolve.

CalhounsCakery Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 3:20am
post #5 of

I think it depends on how you want others to see you, as well as how you want to see yourself. If you want to consider yourself both a cake decorator and a baker, than you need to master scratch cakes. If you just want to focus on yourself as a cake decorator, than mixes are fine. But I truly don't feel you can call yourself a baker if you use mixes.

lyndim Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 3:28am
post #6 of

I do both. I can do a pretty good scratch chocolate cake, but when it comes to other flavors I prefer to use box only because it's better than mine. When I find a good scratch cake recipe I use it Instead of the box mix. In my opinion it's not cheating just taking a short cut. Hope I don't catch too much flak for this.

JaniceBest Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 3:31am
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

If you use a box mix remember to sift it. It makes a difference in the texture I think...plus it sifts out the hard little lumps that won't dissolve.




Those hard little lumps are flavor nuggets.That's what the customer service rep said when I called to complain about those hard little lumps.

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 3:42am
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaniceBest

Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

If you use a box mix remember to sift it. It makes a difference in the texture I think...plus it sifts out the hard little lumps that won't dissolve.



Those hard little lumps are flavor nuggets.That's what the customer service rep said when I called to complain about those hard little lumps.




Flavor nuggets, my a$$! If you believed that, I have a bridge to sell you icon_wink.gificon_biggrin.gif

ReneeFLL Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 3:43am
post #9 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalhounsCakery

I think it depends on how you want others to see you, as well as how you want to see yourself.



To me that statement is just all wrong! So if someone uses a box mix, others are going to look down on them? What makes a snooty person like that any better than a box user? Also, why in the world would a person using box mixes think any less of themselves? Probably from hearing such crazy comments made by others such as yours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalhounsCakery

But I truly don't feel you can call yourself a baker if you use mixes.



So where does it say that if someone uses mixes that they are not a real baker. Such hogwash.

Luciano, if you want to be a baker and a decorator then bake the cakes any way you like and decorate them and have fun doing it. Dont let people who think that they are better than you bother you. To me they are a waste of my time.

icer101 Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 4:17am

Everyone, calm down. If you will look at what luciano says. "this is a great site to be on" . Then laugh at the question as i did. I,m still laughing. This post is started , just to start a fuss as in the past threads. Love what you do and how you do it and don,t let anyone come in and make you loose it. ha!ha!ha ! I haven,t seen a bad thread lately, so lets don,t let anyone start one. We are all great bakers and decorators and lets not forget it. This poster must know there are other threads on this subject, they're not new here, just been lurking and now posted once. ha!ha!ha!

BlakesCakes Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 4:32am

You do what works for you and what is preferred by the people for whom you bake. Don't ever let anyone shame you out of that.

No one on this website, or anywhere else for that matter, has the right to degrade a baker who chooses to start with a mix, as long as the end result is made properly and meets the needs of the person requesting/receiving the cake.

People who have the audacity to fan the flames by declaring box bakers "non-bakers" need to mind their own business and just back off. They are no more right, or better, than anyone else. They just choose to do it differently, but they do need to get over themselves as somehow being "better", and they should work much harder to hide their superiority complex.

Different is not necessarily better.

For every well made box cake, there is a dry, flavorless scratch-made cake somewhere--and vice versa.

I've read many times the "oh, pity me, I worked so hard on my scratch recipes and threw out so many cakes before I perfected them, so my product is better" posts. Not necessarily.

Different is not always better.

Do what you choose to do the best that you can do it, and don't laud it over anyone. When asked about your cakes, only you can decide what info you choose to divulge.
You can always choose to say that you start with a commercial base and then add quality ingredients to make each cake your own unique recipe.

You know, the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." likely came from a lot of experience.

Rae

SweetDreams_DK Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 5:17am

I personally bake from scratch 99% of the time, mostly because I like the challenge of baking from scratch as well as the challenge of decorating. That, and I like to know exactly what is in the stuff I eat (and feed people).

But I do agree that each person needs to decide for himself. There is rarely one right way to do anything, and I'm realizing that the older I get, the less my world is black and white...whole lotta gray going on! (In more ways than one. icon_wink.gif )

Just do what makes you happy, and don't feel bad about it. If someone won't buy a cake from you because you don't bake scratch, that's there prerogative, and you shouldn't take it personally.

FleurDeCake Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 5:22am
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

You do what works for you and what is preferred by the people for whom you bake. Don't ever let anyone shame you out of that.

No one on this website, or anywhere else for that matter, has the right to degrade a baker who chooses to start with a mix, as long as the end result is made properly and meets the needs of the person requesting/receiving the cake.

People who have the audacity to fan the flames by declaring box bakers "non-bakers" need to mind their own business and just back off. They are no more right, or better, than anyone else. They just choose to do it differently, but they do need to get over themselves as somehow being "better", and they should work much harder to hide their superiority complex.

Different is not necessarily better.

For every well made box cake, there is a dry, flavorless scratch-made cake somewhere--and vice versa.

I've read many times the "oh, pity me, I worked so hard on my scratch recipes and threw out so many cakes before I perfected them, so my product is better" posts. Not necessarily.

Different is not always better.

Do what you choose to do the best that you can do it, and don't laud it over anyone. When asked about your cakes, only you can decide what info you choose to divulge.
You can always choose to say that you start with a commercial base and then add quality ingredients to make each cake your own unique recipe.

You know, the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." likely came from a lot of experience.

Rae




Well Said Rae...

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 5:34am
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

You do what works for you and what is preferred by the people for whom you bake. Don't ever let anyone shame you out of that.

No one on this website, or anywhere else for that matter, has the right to degrade a baker who chooses to start with a mix, as long as the end result is made properly and meets the needs of the person requesting/receiving the cake.

People who have the audacity to fan the flames by declaring box bakers "non-bakers" need to mind their own business and just back off. They are no more right, or better, than anyone else. They just choose to do it differently, but they do need to get over themselves as somehow being "better", and they should work much harder to hide their superiority complex.

Different is not necessarily better.

For every well made box cake, there is a dry, flavorless scratch-made cake somewhere--and vice versa.

I've read many times the "oh, pity me, I worked so hard on my scratch recipes and threw out so many cakes before I perfected them, so my product is better" posts. Not necessarily.

Different is not always better.

Do what you choose to do the best that you can do it, and don't laud it over anyone. When asked about your cakes, only you can decide what info you choose to divulge.
You can always choose to say that you start with a commercial base and then add quality ingredients to make each cake your own unique recipe.

You know, the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." likely came from a lot of experience.

Rae



(slowly clapping.....seeing peple join in and clapping harder..... Standing to clap my hands off!!!! Can I get a woot woot??!) icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

FromScratchSF Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 5:45am

Against my better judgement Luc, I'm going to answer your question...

You asked about what the public thinks about cake mixes... The public thinks everyone bakes from scratch. Everyone. No bakery has a sign that says "Made from Betty Crocker!" on the door. So yes, the public are surprised when they learn the cake they are buying or the cake you are trying to sell is from a cake mix. They assume you are using some secret family recipe that was so good you went into business selling your delicious cake. And it does not shock me to read that they called you a "cheater". I know this makes several people here offended, but it IS what people (I am specifically talking about the general public, I remind you) think.

They may love your cake, you may have doctored it to be the best cake mix ever, you may sell a ton of it, you may have won awards for it... but "people" (maybe not all, but some) outside of CC will and do think that you are cheating by using mixes.

Edited to add: Lots of people also think a 150 person wedding cake should only cost $50. So take that for what you will.

Luciano Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 5:54am

I want to thank you ALL for taking the time in replying to my thread; and for the kind words too.
It was not my intention to start any type of war icon_smile.gif Every response (with a positive and no so positive tone) is valuable to me; after all, that's just what it is...an opinion and everybody has the right to it.

I agree and realized there is not a right answer to this dilemma. I do consider myself a baker and decorator and I will still be using cake mixes whenever I need a shortcut or until I find a recipe that works better. And yes, I always sift the mix to remove the little lumps. icon_biggrin.gif
I don't really pay attention how others see me; I care how others enjoy my work; that makes me happy.

I think we are all great at what we do regardless the method we use to bake and/or decorate.

Thanks!
thumbs_up.gif

Cheers!

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 5:57am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

Against my better judgement Luc, I'm going to answer your question...

You asked about what the public thinks about cake mixes... The public thinks everyone bakes from scratch. Everyone. No bakery has a sign that says "Made from Betty Crocker!" on the door. So yes, the public are surprised when they learn the cake they are buying or the cake you are trying to sell is from a cake mix. They assume you are using some secret family recipe that was so good you went into business selling your delicious cake. And it does not shock me to read that they called you a "cheater". I know this makes several people here offended, but it IS what people (I am specifically talking about the general public, I remind you) think.

They may love your cake, you may have doctored it to be the best cake mix ever, you may sell a ton of it, you may have won awards for it... but "people" (maybe not all, but some) outside of CC will and do think that you are cheating by using mixes.

Edited to add: Lots of people also think a 150 person wedding cake should only cost $50. So take that for what you will.




I know how you feel about mixes and scratch from both your blog and your posts and I just have to tell you I think you said that very diplomatically. And I think you are right-on. I bake all my gluten free from scratch and most of my regular cake from a mix and I have to say I was shocked and appalled when I went to a wedding show Sunday and one of the bakers had un doctored, dry, Funfetti! C'mon! Make me think it is scratch!

FromScratchSF Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 6:25am

Thanks Annabakes thumbs_up.gif I'm a lover, not a fighter icon_biggrin.gif

I do feel that public perception and what we feel about ourselves (or each other) are two completely different subjects. The first should be freely discussed without animosity but unfortunately is frequently quickly turned into a heated discussion about the later. It's too bad, because public perception effects us all every day, whereas how you feel or how I feel really doesn't mean that much in the long run.

But that's just me. <3

Panel7124 Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 8:49am

After reading so much about cake mixes here on CC, I've finally discovered an on-line store offering American food in Switzerland. I've never tried any cake mix, so was really curious how these cakes taste. Bought DH's Red Velvet, Pillsbury's Moist Supreme Classic White and Devil's Food (DH's were sold out). I tried just one at the moment - Classic White. I must say it had the most beautiful consistency and texture, incredible crumb. Perfect cake. Actually two cakes.

The only negative thing: it's not edible. I thought maybe it's just me, so called the kids. Asked them how it tastes to them. One said: 'I don't like it and won't eat it', the other one: 'Play Doh?' (which actually made me think that she probably ate it as a small child and I didn't know icon_redface.gif ). Said that: if anybody orders a cake and asks specifically for a box mix cake because he/she likes it, I really don't see any problem. I would be happy to make it if that is what the client wants and likes.

The cakes were given to very happy ducks on a nearby lake as Christmas presents. icon_wink.gif

scp1127 Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 11:04am

There are levels of baking skill just like there are levels of decorating.

Great scratch cakes are at the top of baking skill. Those who berate us for taking the time to hone and perfect that skill are no different than those who proclaim that box bakers are cheaters or not real bakers.

Box mixes and it's doctored alternatives are a beginner baking level. Argue if you want, but it is a starting point. The chemicals in the mix insure that any multitude of mistakes can be made and a cake will still magically appear. Proof of this fact is in the very additions that are added. In scratch baking, these additions would take the batter out of balance, but a box mix does not go out of balance.

It is also disrespectful to put down the process of learning scratch baking when we encourage new scratch bakers to not be discouraged by disasters. Those thrown out cakes are the process to phenonemal recipes. These statements are only for those of you who put down scratch bakers and their artisan skills.

I have posted this many times. There is room in the market for all styles of baking. There are different palates and more importantly, different price points. Box mixes allow better time management because they are predictable and do not fail. They are also more economical, providing the market with a price point for the lower price market and the general public. This is apparent by doing a market analysis in any community. Scratch cakes are next, but only the good ones can be counted here, as a bad scratch cake is worse tasting than a box. Then at the top are the specialty cakes for niche markets... allergy, vegan, organic, gourmet, exotic. These bakers have achieved a level of baking that deserves to be considered artisan and in some cases, artistic.

As with any skill, where you want to be is up to you. If you hate scratch baking, don't do it. If you want to learn, don't offer a flavor until it is not only better than its box counterpart, but also better than your competitors. Eventually, if you enjoy it and choose to learn, you can gradually switch to all scratch offerings. CC is a great place to get help on this quest. Join in on scratch threads or just start a thread about a certain flavor you may want to perfect.

But by all means, enjoy what you do and be happy with your product. I could easily open a box based bakery down the street from my scratch bakery and sell my products just as easily. In every industry, there are many levels of skill, value, and price. Look hard at why you chose your baking process and find every good quality. Be enthousiastic about it and your pride in your work will be contageous to your customers. I have been in line in many a bakery that uses box mixes and the customers are raving. And I have seen my customers have incredible taste experiences that they didn't know existed. Customers aren't the same and so should their varied tastes be reflected in the market.

AnnieCahill Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 12:08pm

Searching for my dead horse picture... icon_wink.gif

One of the best cakes I have ever had is a box cake. It's the DH Strawberry with the cooked 7 minute frosting. My husband's grandmother makes it and brings it to every family gathering. If anyone else made it, it wouldn't taste the same.

Jen, diplomatic indeed, especially given the fire that was coming off your keyboard in the cupcake forum a little while back. LOL.

FromScratchSF Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 12:29pm

Lol! That was different! Maybe people understood what I was trying to say there, maybe not. Oh well, not applicable to this thread.

ReneeFLL Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 12:47pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panel7124

After reading so much about cake mixes here on CC, I've finally discovered an on-line store offering American food in Switzerland. I've never tried any cake mix, so was really curious how these cakes taste. Bought DH's Red Velvet, Pillsbury's Moist Supreme Classic White and Devil's Food (DH's were sold out). I tried just one at the moment - Classic White. I must say it had the most beautiful consistency and texture, incredible crumb. Perfect cake. Actually two cakes.

The only negative thing: it's not edible. I thought maybe it's just me, so called the kids. Asked them how it tastes to them. One said: 'I don't like it and won't eat it', the other one: 'Play Doh?' (which actually made me think that she probably ate it as a small child and I didn't know icon_redface.gif ). Said that: if anybody orders a cake and asks specifically for a box mix cake because he/she likes it, I really don't see any problem. I would be happy to make it if that is what the client wants and likes.

The cakes were given to very happy ducks on a nearby lake as Christmas presents. icon_wink.gif




Did you make the mix as per the boxes instructions? I will agree that the cake made that way is not very tasty. There is a recipe called White Almond Sour Cream "wasc" here on cakecentral. It used box mixes and some additional ingredients. It is very good.

Panel7124 Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 1:12pm

[/quote]Did you make the mix as per the boxes instructions? I will agree that the cake made that way is not very tasty. There is a recipe called White Almond Sour Cream "wasc" here on cakecentral. It used box mixes and some additional ingredients. It is very good.[/quote]

I've seen this recipe on CC. They sent me two boxes of white cake mix (one as a gift for the first order), so I'll definitely try it out as I don't like to throw anything away without giving it a second chance. Box mixes are quite expensive here though - about $6 - 7/box.

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 1:23pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panel7124


Did you make the mix as per the boxes instructions? I will agree that the cake made that way is not very tasty. There is a recipe called White Almond Sour Cream "wasc" here on cakecentral. It used box mixes and some additional ingredients. It is very good.[/quote]

I've seen this recipe on CC. They sent me two boxes of white cake mix (one as a gift for the first order), so I'll definitely try it out as I don't like to throw anything away without giving it a second chance. Box mixes are quite expensive here though - about $6 - 7/box.[/quote]
Holy cats, that is expensive! And all for nothing... Fair warning, I think wasc is repulsive! It is heavy, sour and floury to me. But i have seen many people rave about it. I guess it is a learning experience icon_wink.gif

CalhounsCakery Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 1:36pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReneeFLL

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalhounsCakery

I think it depends on how you want others to see you, as well as how you want to see yourself.


To me that statement is just all wrong! So if someone uses a box mix, others are going to look down on them? What makes a snooty person like that any better than a box user? Also, why in the world would a person using box mixes think any less of themselves? Probably from hearing such crazy comments made by others such as yours.

I love how you took this one sentence and twisted what I meant. No where on my post did I say or imply that anyone would be less for using mixes. What I clearly said was that if you want to label yourself as a cake decorator and a baker, you have to be able to bake from scratch. There are some outstanding cake decorators who use a mix instead of scratch. This in no way takes away from their talent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalhounsCakery

But I truly don't feel you can call yourself a baker if you use mixes.


So where does it say that if someone uses mixes that they are not a real baker. Such hogwash.

I'm sorry if that line offends you, but using a mix for anything is not the same as making it from scratch. It doesn't mean your not talented, but there is a huge difference.

Luciano, if you want to be a baker and a decorator then bake the cakes any way you like and decorate them and have fun doing it. Dont let people who think that they are better than you bother you. To me they are a waste of my time.


conchita Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 1:44pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

I use doctored box mixes for some flavors and scratch for others. If you use a box mix remember to sift it. It makes a difference in the texture I think...plus it sifts out the hard little lumps that won't dissolve.




wow thank you so much for this tip I learn something new today I like this tip icon_biggrin.gif

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 1:46pm

Would someone please fix the "quote" button? This sucks! We all know how to use it, it's just not working out icon_mad.gificon_mad.gif

Jennifer353 Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 1:59pm

I find box cakes intriguing. Growing up in Ireland and now living in the UK, scratch baking is normal. Until I started using CC I never would have even thought to make a box cake and didnt know about doctoring them.
Probably a year ago now, I did buy a box mix and made it just to see what it was like. It was a white cake and just one of the two brands available at the supermarket I shop. I dont even remember now what brand, it wasnt one of the ones people discuss here (I appreciate the brand makes a difference). I added some strawberry pudding to half of the mix so had one layer white and one layer strawberry. They tasted fine to me but nothing special. I think we are lucky in the UK/Ireland that some store bought cakes can be quite good (and others pretty terrible!) so to me the mix cake tasted like a mediocre store bought cake. My b/f had some of it too and thought similar. To me if I was baking a cake, I would prefer to get one of my scratch cakes as the end result compared to that brand box and I didnt really find it significantly less effort. Also similar to Panel7124, mixes are not the cheaper option here.

I have a plan to try making the WASC doctored mix and the scratch version on here for a group of friends as an experiment and see which they prefer.

Having read many discussions on here about scratch vs mix I think the crux of it is some people (general public) prefer the taste of scratch some prefer doctored and it seems to have at least something to do with what they are used to. From a baking point of view scratch/mix/doctored if you are happy doing it and whoever is going to be eating it is happy, what does it matter?!

Panel7124 Posted 12 Jan 2012 , 2:31pm
Quote:
Quote:

Holy cats, that is expensive! And all for nothing... Fair warning, I think wasc is repulsive! It is heavy, sour and floury to me. But i have seen many people rave about it. I guess it is a learning experience icon_wink.gif




Anna, thanks for the warning icon_smile.gif I'll try it out just to see how it is as so many people rave about it (reading CC posts). If it's not well accepted at home, I know where to go this time. icon_lol.gif

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%