vgcea Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 5:40am
post #1 of

DISCLAIMER: This is not a scratch vs mix thread please.

I'm in pastry school, and I overheard a fellow classmate describing her future plans for a fancy, gourmet cupcake shop. Then she says, "I don't want to bake from scratch though, baking from scratch is so ugh, too much trouble." That got me thinking, doesn't gourmet imply that it's made skillfully from-scratch?

What exactly qualifies as a "gourmet" cake?

21 replies
Godot Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 7:53am
post #2 of

Just to add fuel to the fire - why would someone train to be a pastry chef if they thought scratch baking was 'like so ugh - too much trouble'?

Chellescakes Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 9:05am
post #3 of

Hmmm , I don't think I would be buying from her Gore-Met establishment .

AnnieCahill Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 10:18am
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Firstly, I think people need to understand that the term gourmet is actually a noun which means a connoisseur of fine food and drink. Since there isn't really an official or traditional definition for it as an adjective, most people take it to mean "better than," or "exceptionally tasty." So to me, the term gourmet is subjective. What one person might consider gourmet is another person's McDonald's. For example, I know there are people in my area who think that Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse is fine dining.

There is actually a 300+ page thread on this forum about "gourmet" flavors which are based on box mixes.

So to answer your question, gourmet could mean many things to many different people.

Interesting read:

http://www.illinoistimes.com/Springfield/article-6109-blurring-the-meaning-of-delicious-words.html

MimiFix Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 12:07pm
post #5 of

Per Annie's excellent explanation, as the food trend continues to hyper-grow, words are used and mis-used. (My pet peeve is the use of "literally" as when I heard a food show person say "everyone literally inhaled the fudge tart." Which would likely have killed them all, since lungs cannot survive a heavy blast of tart.)

Godot, I'm an adjunct instructor at the Culinary Institute and I've seen that most students are truly dedicated to earning a degree, but they each arrive at school with a preconceived idea of what it means to have a food career. Hopefully the young girl vgcea overheard will learn along the way that there's more to cupcakes than "too much trouble."

AnnieCahill Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 12:51pm
post #6 of
Quote:
Quote:

lungs cannot survive a heavy blast of tart




Bwahahahaha! Love it!

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 1:42pm
post #7 of

I think in this case a "gourmet" cupcake shop would be one that offers more than just chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. They would offer filled cupcakes, unusual flavors, more than just frosting on the top. Sometimes when I think of gourmet cupcakes I think of cupcakes that could be served just as a dessert and not for a celebration. Like German Chocolate cupcakes, Black Forest drizzled with chocolate ganache, Key Lime Cupcakes. Get my drift? And all of those could be made with a box mix as a base.

Annabakescakes Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 1:45pm
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

Quote:
Quote:

lungs cannot survive a heavy blast of tart



Bwahahahaha! Love it!




I second the Bwahahahahaha! You are likely right, I am certain they cannot.

costumeczar Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 3:27pm
post #9 of

I also wonder about the person who's in a culinary program but thinks it's too hard to bake from scratch... icon_wink.gifthumbsdown.gif

SugaredSaffron Posted 9 Sep 2012 , 6:43pm

How strange from someone in pastry school icon_confused.gif imo, assuming the word gourmet to describe high end, more refined kinda cupcakes then yes, I would expect them to be made from scratch.

vgcea Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 9:29am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Godot

Just to add fuel to the fire - why would someone train to be a pastry chef if they thought scratch baking was 'like so ugh - too much trouble'?




Good question! Unfortunately even some of the pastry chefs I've met tout how great and "easy" using the mix is and encourage its use. It's like they're too lazy to teach the real thing.

Thanks for the responses and the laughs everyone.

Nur3 Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 3:35pm

I'm consider myself an amateur decorator but I pride myself in baking from scratch I believe it has to taste better than it looks, also I have tried gourmet cupcakes and you can taste that they are not ' homemade' they have a synthetic taste .. I was shocked when one of my 1st potential customers asked me if I bake from scratch I was rather offended in fact but soon realized that many people get the box mix.. A bit of a cheat, no??

sewlo Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 6:05pm

We have several local cupcakes bakeries in town and I've tried almost all of them. One day I went to one and immediately I could tell they were from a mix and used A LOT of Crisco in the frosting -- both things I don't really like to eat, as I prefer butter cakes from scratch with all butter frosting. But they did have several flavors, including Cinnamon Roll, Strawberry, Margarita, etc. These are flavors you don't expect from a grocery store, so I do think they qualify as gourmet. However, I also think cakes made from scratch with quality ingredients also qualify as gourmet, even if they just offer basic flavors because it's also something a grocery store isn't offering.

Nur3 Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 6:31pm

i could not agree more.. ithink cakes made with high quality ing. certainly has to qualify as gourtmet the proof is in the taste.. luv it!!

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 6:54pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

Firstly, I think people need to understand that the term gourmet is actually a noun which means a connoisseur of fine food and drink. Since there isn't really an official or traditional definition for it as an adjective, most people take it to mean "better than," or "exceptionally tasty."




Pardon my nitpicking, but actually, there is such a definition.
http://www.onelook.com/?w=gourmet&ls=a
http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/american/gourmet#gourmet_3

Other than that, I do agree with what Annie has to say.

My take on it is that it's not what you start with, that makes a food product "gourmet"; it is what you end up with. (Indeed, that is the lesson we take away from Chopped.

There have been people on Fountain Pen Network who are shocked that when I make dressing for a turkey, I start with a box of Mrs. Cubbison's dressing crumbs, rather than a loaf of some artisan bread. They equate Mrs. Cubbisons (which is no more a "mix" than a box of Panko crumbs is; it's simply dried crumbs of purpose-baked seasoned bread) with such vile convenience foods as "StoveTop"

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 8:37pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

For example, I know there are people in my area who think that Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse is fine dining.




Remarkable. I would put those two establishments no higher than Marie Callender's or Mimi's (and probably lower).

But at the same time, I would assert that strict dress codes do not make a restaurant "fine dining," and that snooty, snobbish, snot-nosed wait-staff can ruin a restaurant.

What makes a restaurant fine dining, as I see it, is good food, wait-staff that respect the customers, and kitchen staff that understand and respect the food.

Sadly, on more than one occasion, I've gone into a restaurant, ordered a plate of prime rib, medium, and received something with grill marks. That shows absolutely no understanding of the most basic thing that makes prime rib prime rib: it is a roast, not a steak.It should taste like a roast, not a steak. If I'd wanted a steak, I'd have ordered a steak.

And if I walk into a restaurant, and choose to wash down my dinner with a glass of water (no lemon), and a glass of milk (preferably arriving within a couple of minutes of when the entree arrives), rather than with wine (I'm a teetotaler), I expect my beverage order to be taken care of without any question other than maybe "whole, skim, or low-fat." I don't expect a snot-nosed snob looking at me as if I were from another planet. And if I ask for my meat "medium," it does not mean "medium rare," and it certainly doesn't mean "black-and-blue."

At any rate, though, the closest I've gotten to baking a cake from scratch is one I baked, a long time ago, from a recipe on the back of the Bisquick box. I find that decent quality mixes taste pretty good to begin with, and can work very well as a starting point for something more ambitious (e.g., my strawberry marble cake).

Annabakescakes Posted 10 Sep 2012 , 9:08pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbquikcomjamesl

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

For example, I know there are people in my area who think that Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse is fine dining.



Remarkable. I would put those two establishments no higher than Marie Callender's or Mimi's (and probably lower).

But at the same time, I would assert that strict dress codes do not make a restaurant "fine dining," and that snooty, snobbish, snot-nosed wait-staff can ruin a restaurant.

What makes a restaurant fine dining, as I see it, is good food, wait-staff that respect the customers, and kitchen staff that understand and respect the food.

Sadly, on more than one occasion, I've gone into a restaurant, ordered a plate of prime rib, medium, and received something with grill marks. That shows absolutely no understanding of the most basic thing that makes prime rib prime rib: it is a roast, not a steak.It should taste like a roast, not a steak. If I'd wanted a steak, I'd have ordered a steak.

And if I walk into a restaurant, and choose to wash down my dinner with a glass of water (no lemon), and a glass of milk (preferably arriving within a couple of minutes of when the entree arrives), rather than with wine (I'm a teetotaler), I expect my beverage order to be taken care of without any question other than maybe "whole, skim, or low-fat." I don't expect a snot-nosed snob looking at me as if I were from another planet. And if I ask for my meat "medium," it does not mean "medium rare," and it certainly doesn't mean "black-and-blue."

At any rate, though, the closest I've gotten to baking a cake from scratch is one I baked, a long time ago, from a recipe on the back of the Bisquick box. I find that decent quality mixes taste pretty good to begin with, and can work very well as a starting point for something more ambitious (e.g., my strawberry marble cake).





I like your style, James. I love a tall glass of milk with my meal, and and despise snobbery. I also use a mix icon_wink.gif

dantherex Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 12:50am

First off gourmet is a very subjective term and you won't get a truthful answer because there is no right answer at all. That being said though, I think scratch baking does deserve a more refined title above people using box mixes, not that there is anything wrong with that! But people who bake from scratch go through multiple recipes, spend money from their own pockets to test them out, can easily manipulate specific ingredients in the recipe, hold the opportunity to use high quality ingredients, and most importantly my motto as a pastry chef is that "there is perfection in imperfection" meaning that people pay more for things that are made with flaws because there is beauty in mistakes. It gives your product a sense of emotion.

I always get asked this about the restaurant business. 90% of restaurants in my city that call their services "fine dining" or "gourmet" use premade food for most of their dishes and desserts. Sauces from powder mixes, desserts already made ready to bake, it is ridiculous and OFFENSIVE to those people who hold the integrity of food high and proud by using high quality ingredients and passion into their cooking.

BakingIrene Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 2:31pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea

DISCLAIMER: This is not a scratch vs mix thread please.

I'm in pastry school, and I overheard a fellow classmate describing her future plans for a fancy, gourmet cupcake shop. Then she says, "I don't want to bake from scratch though, baking from scratch is so ugh, too much trouble."




Too bad she used the TV shows as her source of bakery information instead of a month's internship in a real bakery.

On TV it looks so quick...just as the CSI shows make the lab chemistry look so simple...but in real life you have to spend years acquiring the manual skills and the mindset to do the repetitive work carefully and efficiently.

I know that culinary schools admit based on your high school transcript but really, they should REQUIRE a month of internship in their program before admission.

dantherex Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 7:38pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakingIrene

Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea

DISCLAIMER: This is not a scratch vs mix thread please.

I'm in pastry school, and I overheard a fellow classmate describing her future plans for a fancy, gourmet cupcake shop. Then she says, "I don't want to bake from scratch though, baking from scratch is so ugh, too much trouble."



Too bad she used the TV shows as her source of bakery information instead of a month's internship in a real bakery.

On TV it looks so quick...just as the CSI shows make the lab chemistry look so simple...but in real life you have to spend years acquiring the manual skills and the mindset to do the repetitive work carefully and efficiently.

I know that culinary schools admit based on your high school transcript but really, they should REQUIRE a month of internship in their program before admission.




I think the CIA - Culinary Institute of America requires I think 6 months of previous work in your desired field in order to apply.

BabyGerald Posted 12 Sep 2012 , 12:46am

Hmm... I always thought the definition of "gourmet" was "expensive."

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Sep 2012 , 1:17am
Quote:
Originally Posted by BabyGerald

Hmm... I always thought the definition of "gourmet" was "expensive."




Haha! I think you're right!

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