box or scratch?

Baking By sugarlipsbaker Updated 6 Dec 2013 , 1:25am by jason_kraft

sugarlipsbaker Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 12:49am
post #1 of 61

I pride myself in making all of my cakes and frosting fresh and from scratch. Occasionally depending on time i have to doctor a cake mix. I know a few other home based cake decorators in the my area and they all use doctored box mixes. My question is how many of you use a box mix and what are your feelings about? When I make a wedding cake i feel the need to make it 100% from scratch  because they are paying big money for it, but when doing a $45 birthday cake it doesnt make sense for me to spend the time to make it from scratch.

60 replies
texas_mom Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 1:36am
post #2 of 61

I have been making cakes for a little over 30 years and they have always been boxed.  I save the cake from scratch for my family like my mom and dad's birthday or my husband or kids.  Everyone I make a cake for knows that box is what they are getting and they are fine with that.  But I wouldn't know if I would make a wedding cake from scratch because of the money, since I do this as a hobby so everything I make is for the fun of it.

Daisyblue002 Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 4:16am
post #3 of 61

I used to make pretty much all my cakes and frosting from a box but since I've learnt to decorate cakes I'm also interested in baking from scratch and making ganache. It doesn't take long at all to assemble the ingredients and now I prefer (as well as my family and friends) scratch cakes. If I paid over $50 for a cake and found out it was from a box I'd be a little disappointed. 

Apti Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 4:33am
post #4 of 61

SugarLipsBaker~~Welcome to the forum!  The "box vs. scratch" is an on-going, heated debate that will rage over the decades.  Basically, if one sums up 8,000 threads and 20,000 opinions:  If it tastes good and sells well and makes the paying customer happy--who cares.

texas_mom Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 6:59pm
post #5 of 61

Daisyblue002- all of my cakes are box and now with the Cottage Law in Texas that took effect in Sept 1...I was asked to make a birthday cake .. I told them if I did make it would be about $50.00 and that I only use box mixes  and they are fine with that...I haven't decided if I want to make it yet .  If I do it will be my first cake I will make and sell.  I have already taken and received my Food Handlers Coarse certificate and have taken steps on what I need to do to make cakes legally... but I don't know if I am ready to make it a business yet... but like I  have always said there are costumers for everybody... those that want scratch will go with scratch bakers and other that don't mind box will seek me... and everybody is happy.

AnnieCahill Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 7:13pm
post #7 of 61


My question is how many of you use a box mix and what are your feelings about? 


I would assume that those who use a box mix feel ok about it, as they should.  There's nothing wrong with using boxed mixes, but you should be honest if someone asks.  Own what you do and take pride in it, because if you don't, then how do you expect your customer to?  There have been about a bazillion threads on this if you really want to read them. 

leah_s Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 8:02pm
post #8 of 61

I'm a scratch baker and used that as primary maketing.  Worked for me.  (I really don't sell cakes any more.)  I have strong feelings about box cake mixes, but I'll sum it up this way - I just don't get it.  Scratch baking is easy.  I learned when I was 9 years old in 4H.  Seriously, I scratched baked as a child.  Often.  

morganchampagne Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 8:55pm
post #9 of 61

AI bake from scratch just because that's what I learned to do. It never occurred to me to use a box. But I worked at a bakery that was using box mixes and nobody cared. So my suggestion is to try both and see which one you like the best.

texas_mom Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 9:04pm
post #10 of 61

I have always told everyone I use box, I have never tried passing a cake as scratch... I have never doctored a cake for an occasion  but if I did I most definitely say it was a doctored box mix...only reason I don't doctor is because to be honest I have never doctored a cake and had it turn out ok...if anyone really has  tried and true doctored recipes please post.  I think the reason mine didn't turn out right was because I have read that box mixes have changed in content and the ingredients needed to doctor the mixed have changed and I don't know what those changes are.

morganchampagne Posted 26 Nov 2013 , 10:03pm
post #11 of 61

AI personally don't get the doctored mix the time you add all those extra ingredients you haven't really saved any time and you certainly haven't saved any what's the point? (You in general, not anybody specific)

I'm not being sarcastic by the way so I hope nobody takes offense

CandiedMoon Posted 27 Nov 2013 , 12:14am
post #14 of 61

AI use scratch. I like being able to say recipes are my own :)

texas_mom Posted 27 Nov 2013 , 12:54am
post #15 of 61

CandiedMoon- I have a few scratch recipes from white cakes, german chocolate cake, kolaches, cookies etc.  but I personally can not say their are mine not really,  I googled and find about five recipes or so of each and I check and see what ingredients it takes and how much.  I make the recipes as is but if I do not like something in the recipe ( like baking soda , I can always taste it in the baked good so I tend to adjust the amount)  I add or subtract ingredients and the amounts  until I get it just right for me and that is the recipe I keep.  I have never tried coming up with my own recipes from scratch.  Maybe I should come up with a few recipes on my own  and pass them down to my daughters.

FrostedMoon Posted 27 Nov 2013 , 2:07am
post #16 of 61

ASometimes box mix isn't about being cheaper or easier. It's about an end result that people love. I mostly do doctored box mixes, but I weigh and add extra ingredients and use high quality additions. I've had potential customers complain about past cakes they've purchased from known scratch bakers. They want to make sure my cake will be different, and it is. And they love it. My cakes don't taste like a standard box mix because they aren't. But the mix is a starting point that makes a positive difference. I wish I could find scratch ingredients that gave the same results, but I haven't.

kikiandkyle Posted 27 Nov 2013 , 3:38am
post #18 of 61

APeople like box mixes because the results are pretty much guaranteed, it's a familiar taste and texture for most Americans, and honestly I think it takes away the fear for some bakers.

I make my cakes from scratch usually, I make the occasional box cake if I need to do a cake in a hurry. But like most of the non-Americans, I'd be annoyed if I paid for a custom cake and found out it came from a box. Admittedly, box mixes outside of this country rarely measure up to what is on offer here.

morganchampagne Posted 27 Nov 2013 , 4:08am
post #19 of 61

AWell I certainly do understand that. But to me when you're adding all those ingredients to a box mix its almost like the baker is trying to mask something, rather than enhance it. That howit comes across to me. There are people who love them and ate very successful and I think that's great. The concept was just a bit lost on me.

leah_s Posted 27 Nov 2013 , 4:20am
post #20 of 61

AI came out of "retirement" a couple of months ago to cater a wedding reception including the cake. Since I was there as the caterer. I cut the cake and overheard this as someone took their first bite of cake, "mmm. You can sure tell THAT didn't come out of a box!" Made me smile. Good cake to go out on.

Smckinney07 Posted 27 Nov 2013 , 4:55am
post #21 of 61

AMost people in my area bake from a box mix. When I first started decorating cakes I used the doctored recipes, never having known (or tasted) any different I enjoyed them. I took a cake to a family event and one person (who happened to be a chef) asked if it was a box mix-she didn't seem to care but the fact that she noticed made me wonder what the big deal was.

Decorating came pretty naturally to me but baking or cooking in general never did. I can follow a recipe but I've never been the kind of person who could just throw a meal together.

I started trying scratch recipes and fresh/higher quality ingredients, I really noticed a difference. Now I'm learning more about the actual science behind baking, I really appreciate what goes into personalizing and perfecting your own recipes. I found my standard recipes before I started selling so I was able to figure in the cost to my cakes, my customers are happy and so am I.

I'm not trying to sound like a snob, this is just what works for me. As others have said, if you put out a product that you're proud of and your customers enjoy who cares where it comes from?!

texas_mom Posted 27 Nov 2013 , 6:43pm
post #22 of 61

I use box for one reason...I bake for family and that is what we grew up eating and it is a familiar taste that takes us back to our my small town most cakes come from our neighborhood grocery most people are use to the premade even when I do make a birthday cake the children as well as the adult like them because the box taste so much better than the thawed out and decorated one from the store. But I would like to try the doctored mixes.  I bought the Cake Doctor book but gave it away as a gift.  LOL ! Maybe I need to borrow it.  :)

kakeladi Posted 27 Nov 2013 , 11:28pm
post #23 of 61

..........SugarLipsBaker~~Welcome to the forum!  The "box vs. scratch" is an on-going, heated debate that will rage over the decades.  Basically, if one sums up 8,000 threads and 20,000 opinions:  If it tastes good and sells well and makes the paying customer happy--who cares...........


Ditto, ditto, ditto!!

I  had two bakeries using mixes and did just fine.  As was said, there are many, many opinions on this hot button of a subject

Why not just use what's best for you and your customers and forget about it.

Psyched baker Posted 28 Nov 2013 , 2:41am
post #24 of 61

AI think that we (as bakers) are generally biased by what we are brought up with (given that it is good ;) ). My mom baked from scratch and taught me how when I was in elementary school so i wouldn't consider doing it any other way. I am a cake snob too...I have actually asked people before if the cake was from scratch or a box b/c I won't waste the calories on BM cakes. I did taste one about a year ago and it only solidified it for me. I think that the most important consideration might be what your clientele want. I market to people looking for from scratch and without preservatives as well as gluten free and vegan so it really requires cakes from scratch to get the customers who will pay the amount I want and for them to be happy.

daprincessnora Posted 28 Nov 2013 , 6:50am
post #25 of 61

AI have that book "hello cupcake" which recommend doctored cake box recipes and have mentioned the alterations saying that it makes it pretty much closr to from-scratch ones! Even when building cupcakes projects that need sturdy cake.I was surprised to see that in a book I thought the author will recommend the scratch recipes more.

daprincessnora Posted 28 Nov 2013 , 6:53am
post #26 of 61


Original message sent by morganchampagne

I personally don't get the doctored mix the time you add all those extra ingredients you haven't really saved any time and you certainly haven't saved any what's the point? (You in general, not anybody specific)

I'm not being sarcastic by the way so I hope nobody takes offense

I think its still cheaper to doctor a cake box than doing it from scratch, in the book I mentioned above they suggest just adding butter milk and eggs to any cake box mix ! Plus buying it from a wholesaler or on larger quantity (10kgs+) would make it more profitable

peppercorns Posted 30 Nov 2013 , 12:07am
post #27 of 61

AThe boxed cake mixes have a funny taste that cannot be hid by other aromatics. If it is a weeding or someone paid you money then I think baking from scratch is worth the effort. I do not think the boxed mix is any cheaper, anyway.

cakefat Posted 30 Nov 2013 , 12:39am
post #28 of 61

Although I'm a scratch baker only and would be feel very disappointed -if not just plain cheated-if I purchased a custom cake that was made from a box mix...I think it really depends on your audience.


If your cake eaters/clients/whatever are only used to eating box mix cakes, then that is what they're expecting and will like..and vice versa if people aren't used to box mixes. 


So really- just bake for your audience. Lots of people only eat processed/packaged foods and have no taste or idea for real food. someone who never eats (or just won't eat) processed foods will probably not like a box mix.

Godot Posted 30 Nov 2013 , 2:34am
post #29 of 61

AI'm a snob.

I only bake from scratch, and I only want to eat cake from scratch. With real butter.

jason_kraft Posted 30 Nov 2013 , 3:33am
post #30 of 61

AScratch baking tends to be cheaper when you work with large volumes, and box mixes (doctored or not) are cheaper when you don't buy in bulk. If you have the volume you can get the best of both worlds by making your own scratch mix in large quantities and storing it for future baking.

Scratch baking is not difficult, but it does require investment in R&D and a good understanding of the science behind baking.

Quote by @%username% on %date%