MBalaska Posted 4 Aug 2013 , 8:46am
post #1 of

Seriously - I think that the store bought box mixes are really pretty good. Everyone has eaten thousands of cakes/cupcakes from box mixes.  When I make scratch cakes they are delicious but always slightly denser, a little richer, if that's a way to describe it. And it takes forever to make properly and makes a terrible mess, with lots of dishes to wash. I like the taste and texture of an old fashioned scratch cake better.  However, I have yet to find a single person that knows the difference in cake.

 

But: the cake frosting, cookie icing, fudge filling, and ganache is a different story.   Everyone knows the difference there, even the kids. (and the men who don't pay that much attention to such things notice.)

 

I'm considering making the cakes and cupcakes from box mixes and just focusing my time, money, and energy into luxurious homemade scratch icings and fondants.  It's just a hobby for me, any thoughts??

184 replies
MBalaska Posted 4 Aug 2013 , 9:47am
post #2 of

has anyone else given up scratch cakes, using box cakes only?

MimiFix Posted 4 Aug 2013 , 10:14am
post #3 of

Welcome MB! Since you are new here, you're probably not aware this has been discussed many times. Unfortunately, this topic can lead to some very unpleasant exchanges. But read for yourself. Please use the search function at the top of the page and type in Scratch Mix.

cakefat Posted 4 Aug 2013 , 10:17am
post #4 of

Perhaps the main draw back to a mix, is all the chemicals, additives etc that are included. That is sort of scary to some, myself included.  

 

I bake from scratch for this reason, and also I actually can bake from scratch.  It does take time, weighing out everything, plus doing it over and over until you get it perfect. But at least I know what's going in there and can spell all the ingredients! (maybe I'm just a bad speller but some of those chemicals..forget it, if I can avoid them, I'd like to).  Also I like the texture of a scratch cake.

 

But I made a WASC once and everyone loved it.

 

I'm actually going to do a taste test soon of three different types of white cake..one will be a WASC and the  other two scratch. Just to see what people go for..and since i"m not in the US- these aren't really people who have grown up on cake mixes (and I have to say, growing up in the US- we had a mix for everything). 

 

ps- for the record I'm not anti-mix or anti-whatever...people like what people like and there's no fault in that. to each their own baking and eating.

MBalaska Posted 4 Aug 2013 , 11:08am
post #5 of

Quote:

Originally Posted by cakefat 

I'm actually going to do a taste test soon of three different types of white cake..one will be a WASC and the  other two scratch. Just to see what people go for..and since i"m not in the US- these aren't really people who have grown up on cake mixes (and I have to say, growing up in the US- we had a mix for everything). 

Thanks cakefat, I'd love to know your results.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by MimiFix 

Please use the search function at the top of the page and type in Scratch Mix.

and Thanks MimiFix, you are right on target about the comments (wow) and now I'll use  'search'.

howsweet Posted 4 Aug 2013 , 4:18pm
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakefat 

Perhaps the main draw back to a mix, is all the chemicals, additives etc that are included. That is sort of scary to some, myself included.  

I've seen this comment a lot and I've always left it alone and this response may not even apply to you. And I'm not saying anything good about ingredients in a boxed mix. It's just that often, the same people who are complaining about a a few chemical substances in these mixes really don't even know what they are, but since they have a chemical sounding name assume they must be bad.

 

The same person might be making a frosting with transfat, which has been well documented to be a terrible thing to put in your body, especially when combined with sugar. Studies link transfat with Alzheimer's, coronary artery disease and liver disease.

 

They may be pouring food coloring in their icing and who knows what's in that?

 

Here's a link I found by someone who looked into it some. I don't know how credible it is because she says things like white sugar is safe to eat, but here it is fwiw

cakefat Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 12:48am
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by howsweet 

I've seen this comment a lot and I've always left it alone and this response may not even apply to you. And I'm not saying anything good about ingredients in a boxed mix. It's just that often, the same people who are complaining about a a few chemical substances in these mixes really don't even know what they are, but since they have a chemical sounding name assume they must be bad.

 

The same person might be making a frosting with transfat, which has been well documented to be a terrible thing to put in your body, especially when combined with sugar. Studies link transfat with Alzheimer's, coronary artery disease and liver disease.

 

They may be pouring food coloring in their icing and who knows what's in that?

 

Here's a link I found by someone who looked into it some. I don't know how credible it is because she says things like white sugar is safe to eat, but here it is fwiw

yes, your comment doesn't apply to me.

ddaigle Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 1:02am
post #8 of

What kind of baker do you want to be....scratch or box?   I don't think the average cake civilian knows the difference in the two...they just know if it is good...or not.   Moist....or dry.     Myself...I am a decorator.   I want to produce a good product, but I don't have the patience or interest in scratch baking.   It is a science and it is hard and it takes a lot of time to perfect it.   Many first time bakers go out the gate with their first scratch cake and it's not good because you have to do so many things just right.   I applaud scratch bakers...but it just isn't my thing I want to invest time in.  Make your choice and then make it good.   My 2 cents.

biscuiteater Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 1:07am
post #9 of

A

Original message sent by ddaigle

What kind of baker do you want to be....scratch or box?   I don't think the average cake civilian knows the difference in the two...they just know if it is good...or not.   Moist....or dry.     Myself...I am a decorator.   I want to produce a good product, but I don't have the patience or interest in scratch baking.   It is a science and it is hard and it takes a lot of time to perfect it.   Many first time bakers go out the gate with their first scratch cake and it's not good because you have to do so many things just right.   I applaud scratch bakers...but it just isn't my thing I want to invest time in.  Make your choice and then make it good.   My 2 cents.

Very well put!

cakefat Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 1:45am
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddaigle 

What kind of baker do you want to be....scratch or box?   I don't think the average cake civilian knows the difference in the two...they just know if it is good...or not.   Moist....or dry.     Myself...I am a decorator.   I want to produce a good product, but I don't have the patience or interest in scratch baking.   It is a science and it is hard and it takes a lot of time to perfect it.   Many first time bakers go out the gate with their first scratch cake and it's not good because you have to do so many things just right.   I applaud scratch bakers...but it just isn't my thing I want to invest time in.  Make your choice and then make it good.   My 2 cents.

 

Yes- exactly this! on all points. 

rychevamp Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 7:39pm

Since I work as a pastry chef, I can't see using mixes.  When I took the job I have now, when I was going through my storage area, I found all these industrial size boxes of cake mix.  I couldn't believe the person before me used them.  I baked some of it off for cupcakes to put out for lunch one day, and I couldn't believe how awful they were.  And this place is a high end restaurant, known for weddings. I've worked over the years, perfecting my cake recipes, and from the feedback I've gotten, everyone has been happy. I like knowing exactly what is going into the cakes I make as well.  I feel that if someone is going to take the time to doctor up cake mixes, by adding pudding mixes, etc to them, it takes no more time to weigh out ingredients for a scratch cake.  

To each their own, if you are comfortable using mixes, by all means.  I just can't do it.

AZCouture Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 8:16pm

Personally, I don't feel comfortable creating handmade decorations, spending all that time painting, etc, to have a box mix underneath it. I don't care for the taste either, the awful smell while it's baking, and the weird fluffy fail proof texture. I just don't. I don't like anything about them. So that said, I don't offer anything I don't personally like. If others want to, great! It's none of my business. But you bet I capitalize on the fact that everything I make is from scratch with good ingredients, without saying it's better because everyone else "boxing". icon_wink.gif

CakeRae80 Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 8:18pm

I have scratch recipes that I've used for years and ones that I've acquired over the years.  I have always been that person though to whip everything up from scratch. My kids never got packet hot cocoa from me, I made it from scratch. Same with brownies and cakes.  I even prefer to make my own whipped cream vs. buying it.  So I bake everything from scratch for that reason. To me it's just as easy as opening up a box and adding a few more ingredients. My kids have come to know the difference between scratch items and boxed items as well.  Not just cake by everything. It is all in what you're comfortable with doing and what is more efficient to you.

AZCouture Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 8:18pm

It takes a long time, which is not always fun, but it's worth it. And I'll probably never expand my operation, or open a store front either, because it wouldn't be profitable. So, I stay small and boutiquey, and I like it that way.

CakeRae80 Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 8:22pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 

But you bet I capitalize on the fact that everything I make is from scratch with good ingredients, without saying it's better because everyone else "boxing". icon_wink.gif

I do the same thing! I have nothing against people using boxes, but it's not for me.  So I try to stress that everything I do is from scratch and homemade because doing that makes my cost to make the cakes a little higher than a $1.00 box.  (I say $1.00 b/c most of the stores around me sell their brand of cake mixes for $1.00 each)

BatterUpCake Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 8:35pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddaigle 

What kind of baker do you want to be....

The kind that makes $$$$$!!!! lol

JWinslow Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 9:01pm

I didn't grow up on cake (my Mom only made pie), so when I grew up and had kids and it was time to do cupcakes, I ran to the store and grabbed a mix.  After becoming a CC member, I read a lot, experimented and now only scratch bake because I prefer it.

 

There is just something personally satisfying for me knowing I had something to do with every aspect about the cake I made.  That's not to say I haven't had my share of flubs - :) 

Smallfrye Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 9:27pm

It really does not matter to me what every one uses, some box mixes are pretty good. For me its about more consistent recipes with scratch baking. With the constant changes in box mixes you never really know how much batter you will get unless you look at the weight on the box every time you buy a box mix. With scratch recipes you know how much you will get consistently. Even with that I still on occasion use the WASC recipe, it really depends on what your customers want.

mcaulir Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 9:46pm

I'm always a bit amazed when people say that no-one can tell the difference. Box mixes taste very different to scratch cake, either good or bad scratch cake. It may be that no-one cares, or that they like both kinds, but I can't believe that not a single person can tell the difference.

 

I suspect that it's more likely that some people actually like box mixes better, and that others are too polite to say to you, 'This tastes like you made it from a box mix. Did you?'

ddaigle Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 9:57pm

I don't think that "no one" can tell the difference..I think bakers can tell...but I guarantee if I lined up 50 of my cake civilian customers...they could not tell.    I also think it depends on the generation you are baking for to.   Many grew up on box and they are "familiar" with that kind of cake. 

howsweet Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 10:05pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by rychevamp 

Since I work as a pastry chef, I can't see using mixes.  When I took the job I have now, when I was going through my storage area, I found all these industrial size boxes of cake mix.  I couldn't believe the person before me used them.  I baked some of it off for cupcakes to put out for lunch one day, and I couldn't believe how awful they were.  And this place is a high end restaurant, known for weddings. I've worked over the years, perfecting my cake recipes, and from the feedback I've gotten, everyone has been happy. I like knowing exactly what is going into the cakes I make as well.  I feel that if someone is going to take the time to doctor up cake mixes, by adding pudding mixes, etc to them, it takes no more time to weigh out ingredients for a scratch cake.  

To each their own, if you are comfortable using mixes, by all means.  I just can't do it.

It's definitely more work - before I went from box to scratch,  I could bake everything for the week in an hour and a half. And that includes 3 different flavors. Now it takes me almost twice as long. I still have to make white almond (WASC) - people love that stuff. I even have new customers ask for it. Oh, and full disclosure - if they want red velvet, they get Dawn's mix straight up. It has the taste that most people are asking for when they want red velvet. Kind of chemically, but what can one expect with all that red dye - haha!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcaulir 

I'm always a bit amazed when people say that no-one can tell the difference. Box mixes taste very different to scratch cake, either good or bad scratch cake. It may be that no-one cares, or that they like both kinds, but I can't believe that not a single person can tell the difference.

 

I suspect that it's more likely that some people actually like box mixes better, and that others are too polite to say to you, 'This tastes like you made it from a box mix. Did you?'

I think what people may really mean is that many customers don't know the difference.  Like maybe they don't know the cakes they've bought in the past weren't scratch. Some people even think the grocery store bakery actually bakes cake from scratch (or bakes cake at all!).  They may know it tastes different from grandma's pound cake, but figure it's a different recipe. There are lots of people who probably haven't even had a scratch cake.

mcaulir Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 10:35pm

I wonder if it's an Aussie thing.  I'd be stunned if I got 50 people together here and most couldn't tell a box mix from a scratch cake.

 

Oh, that sounds like a great way to spend a Friday night!

rychevamp Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 10:44pm

The average person's palette is not that refined.  So, I doubt people that grew up with cake mixes could tell, and some feel that scratch are not soft or fluffy enough.  But, the fluff factor and the chemical smell some mixes have just doesn't sit well with me. And, after going through pastry school and doing this for almost 15 years, I can't do it.  What was the point of school if I'm going to rely on a mix?

janetbakes Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 10:46pm

I just started baking as well and kinda fell into decorating by accident. A few months ago I had someone make my babyshower cake and I thought it ok but others said it was bland. One thing I noticed it that the cake was really yellow. Since I started baking, all scratch recipes I would try could never get as yellow then I realized it was a box mix she used. I felt a bit conned. Personally I prefer scratch recipes to box, scratch is worth the extra butter and eggs and time,,,, always comes out so tasty..

daryll Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 10:47pm

AI agree Mcaulir...I'm from New Zealand and although there are more boxed mixes recently, it's just not something I was raised with or make myself. In the rare time that I've had a boxed mix I have always been able to tell, its the texture and they taste kind of the same...but that may be because we just don't have the choice that you do in the US.

howsweet Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 10:48pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcaulir 

I wonder if it's an Aussie thing.  I'd be stunned if I got 50 people together here and most couldn't tell a box mix from a scratch cake.

 

Oh, that sounds like a great way to spend a Friday night!


Hahahaha! Yes, I'm doing that Saturday. And I agree it's different here in America. I've never been to Australia, but everything is "fast" here. Especially food. And we have large populations who are extremely undiscerning about their food. I guess that would be everywhere, but we may be the worst.

 

I'm sure if they were set side side by side, people would be able to tell the difference, there's nothing physically wrong with our taste buds as far as I know. Most people here are more acclimated to the taste of a box mix.

 

Where are you located? At one time in my life I was headed to Townsville to check it out and see if they needed a Tex-Mex/live music place.

MBalaska Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 10:51pm
  • Banana cake
  • Carrot Cake
  • Fudge Cake

I make from scratch, always.  And everyone that I bake for knows it. The difference from bakery and/or boxed mixes is like night and day. So you are correct in the respect that it is not everything.

 

  • White cake
  • Yellow cake
  • Chocolate/Devils food cake
  • Lemon cake
  • Pound cake

even my fussiest out-spoken impolite self-proclaimed connoisseurs ( in 15 years of baking for them) simply have never been able to  tell the difference.

They only identify the quality of 'dryness'.  If a cake is 'MOIST' they are content.  This seems to be the universal measure of cake in my miniscule experience.

For this reason, I asked the original question.  I am happy that the result is the discovery of the  WASC recipe which seems to be a reasonable marriage of BOX MIX convenience with SCRATCH taste and texture.  Especially as it appears to be very handy for Large Volumes of batter. I'm heading to the grocery store so I can make my very first one.

 

Thank you to everyone who contributes to these forums, makes instructional videos, writes out their recipes, shares their tips and techniques.

You all have rocked my little world in Alaska, and I am grateful for your contributions !! thumbs_up.gif

howsweet Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 10:57pm

Btw, I forgot to put a smiley - I'm not really doing that on Saturday.  And Alaska, I think you're right - there are a whole lot of people that judge the cake less on taste and primarily on whether it's moist.
 

mcaulir Posted 5 Aug 2013 , 11:25pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by howsweet 


Hahahaha! Yes, I'm doing that Saturday. And I agree it's different here in America. I've never been to Australia, but everything is "fast" here. Especially food. And we have large populations who are extremely undiscerning about their food. I guess that would be everywhere, but we may be the worst.

 

I'm sure if they were set side side by side, people would be able to tell the difference, there's nothing physically wrong with our taste buds as far as I know. Most people here are more acclimated to the taste of a box mix.

 

Where are you located? At one time in my life I was headed to Townsville to check it out and see if they needed a Tex-Mex/live music place.

I live in a little town a couple of hours west of Brisbane. So same state, but 1300km (about 800 miles) away.

howsweet Posted 6 Aug 2013 , 12:39am
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcaulir 

I live in a little town a couple of hours west of Brisbane. So same state, but 1300km (about 800 miles) away.


That a bit of a distance - like a 10 hour drive?  Queensland is my favorite state!  It's morning there now, right? It's evening here, going to get dark soon. For some reason I have trouble wrapping my brain around that. Do you ever get to the coast? I have friends who traveled from Brisbane up the countryside northward and they kept saying that the snakes jump out on you from the trees and then laughing hysterically. I never got the joke haha!

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