Box Or Scratch?

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

Norasmom Posted 30 Nov 2013 , 3:39am
post #31 of 61

I seriously cannot tell the difference in taste between boxed and scratch.  I guess I have a non-sensitive palate.  :-D

gatorcake Posted 30 Nov 2013 , 4:23am
post #32 of 61

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

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

 

It really doesn't.  All it takes is the ability to follow a recipe.  There are plenty of amazing recipes out there and plenty of people willing to share them.  If you want to reinvent the wheel that is fine, but there is no need to build a recipe from the ground up.  Understanding of the science of baking may help you diagnose failures if you are modifying recipes, then again there are wonderful resources which can help you diagnose them as well.

texas_mom Posted 30 Nov 2013 , 10:35pm
post #33 of 61

I guess I am too use to box because I can taste the flour in it and sometimes the egg and there time that they are just to dense...but like I said it is just me since all I have ever used is box for birthday and yes wedding cakes everyone knows it's box. Although I do have scratch recipes I do use and all of them take cake flour instead of all purpose but I bake these for family desserts after dinner . I do have a banana cake recipe I really like and it took four times baking and changing ingredients to where I finally got the cake I really liked.

Pastrybaglady Posted 1 Dec 2013 , 9:11am
post #34 of 61

AI don't do stacked and heavily decorated cakes. I bake a very straight forward two layered cake very simply piped. I am a scratch baker and am best known for my chocolate cake. One person after eating some of my cake said she had just recently been telling someone there's no need to bake from scratch anymore because "Safeway cakes are so good". She then said to me, "Well, you sure proved me wrong!" Vindication! For a lot of people I just think they've never had a really good scratch cake. I've eaten plenty that have been too dry, bland, hard, too sweet or all of the above.

For some bakers I do agree about there being a consistency factor with boxed mixes because I have given my recipe to many people but they all say they cannot duplicate my results and accuse me of holding back on them...:twisted: Hee hee. I tell them honestly I gave them the exact ingredients - the techniques I have learned over the years, not so much. More work than a box mix, definitely. More money than a box, yup. Worth it? Oh yeah!

BakedbyMamaD Posted 1 Dec 2013 , 5:32pm
post #35 of 61

I've always used boxed unless it is a special recipe, but there is only one brand I will use.  I am honest about it, and no one really cares, because its the frosting they seem to care about!  But, now that I am doing things in higher quantities, I think it will be more cost effective to do them from scratch, and its really no big deal.  The thing is, if you use the right boxed mix, they are so good any more, some recipes from scratch aren't as good!!  Like others said, whatever works, and tastes the best.

elliemaeee Posted 1 Dec 2013 , 11:19pm
post #36 of 61

i make scratch seems to make bigger batch for my pans

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 2 Dec 2013 , 2:07am
post #37 of 61

AI've said this before:

I bake cakes from mixes. My strawberry marble is a doctored mix, and as I recall, I got lucky on the first try. And I'm thinking of kicking up the DH spice mix another notch (as Emeril would say).

Except for using canned chocolate frosting (I don't eat chocolate, and I'm not prepared to make something from scratch if I have no basis to judge the result; it's like that guy on Chopped, who was allergic to all seafood, and had seafood in both of the first two baskets!), I make all of my frosting from scratch (variations on the BC recipe that's been on the back of the C&H powdered sugar box since before most of us were born), and if it's maple-cinnamon for a spice cake, it's made with real Vermont Grade B, not "Maplene."

I bake cookies from scratch, and I'm not afraid to engineer something new. My "Innsbruck Dream Bars" are based on about half a dozen published reconstructions of the old Betty Crocker "Vienna Dream Bar" mix, only with major changes to the topping. And I bake gingerbread from scratch, using the recipe in the 1969 Betty Crocker Cookbook.

(I've also reverse-engineered a turkey schnitzel recipe, based on having it for lunch a couple of times in Shroeder's restaurant, while vacationing in San Francisco.)

-K8memphis Posted 2 Dec 2013 , 2:20am
post #38 of 61

Quote:

Originally Posted by hbquikcomjamesl 

I've said this before:

I bake cakes from mixes. My strawberry marble is a doctored mix, and as I recall, I got lucky on the first try. And I'm thinking of kicking up the DH spice mix another notch (as Emeril would say).

Except for using canned chocolate frosting (I don't eat chocolate, and I'm not prepared to make something from scratch if I have no basis to judge the result; it's like that guy on Chopped, who was allergic to all seafood, and had seafood in both of the first two baskets!), I make all of my frosting from scratch (variations on the BC recipe that's been on the back of the C&H powdered sugar box since before most of us were born), and if it's maple-cinnamon for a spice cake, it's made with real Vermont Grade B, not "Maplene."

I bake cookies from scratch, and I'm not afraid to engineer something new. My "Innsbruck Dream Bars" are based on about half a dozen published reconstructions of the old Betty Crocker "Vienna Dream Bar" mix, only with major changes to the topping. And I bake gingerbread from scratch, using the recipe in the 1969 Betty Crocker Cookbook.


(I've also reverse-engineered a turkey schnitzel recipe, based on having it for lunch a couple of times in Shroeder's restaurant, while vacationing in San Francisco.)

 

turkey schnitzel cake or turkey schnitzel filling?  :lol:

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 2 Dec 2013 , 3:08am
post #39 of 61

A

Original message sent by -K8memphis

turkey schnitzel cake or turkey schnitzel filling?  :lol:

Uh, no. Turkey schnitzel is just like Wiener schnitzel, except made with turkey cutlets instead of veal cutlets. I can't imagine how that would be any good as a cake. Not even the writers on Chopped would be THAT bizarre.

enga Posted 2 Dec 2013 , 3:47am
post #40 of 61
Scratch 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.
 
I don't know Jason, I thinks its is more expensive to do scratch baking requiring (flour, eggs, milk, butter, chemical leavening, and flavoring) in large volume vs a 50# bag of cake base mix that only requires water and oil. I hate to say it but most bakeries including some high end ones use bases and mixes because it is more cost effective and the product is consistent. At least some that I have worked in. They hide that fact behind carefully worded phrases like "We use only the finest quality ingredients from local suppliers", opposed to "We bake everything from scratch".

Scratch baking is not difficult, but it does require investment in R&D and a good understanding of the science behind baking.
 
No scratch baking is not difficult  but it is expensive in my opinion especially if you are offering specialty items. You having a had specialty bakery using scratch mix  for specific diet restrictions and allergies would make it more feasible to use your own ingredients opposed to mixes and bases. Not to mention knowing exactly whats in it and further reducing cross contamination and health risks to your customers. There are some bakeries and cake shoppes  that have tried and true scratch recipes and take pride in that fact. But a lot of them are tightening their belts and cutting corners with the products and ingredients they use just to keep their heads above water.
 
OP I think a boxed cake, cake base or mix made by you using eggs oil etc is far better than these big bakeries (Walmart and Costco). Their cakes are kept in a deep frozen tundra for God knows how long. They don't care what is in their cakes, I mean if it doesn't contain ingredient you can pronounce is it even technically a cake? It's all about profit for them.
 
Most of us have tasted a scratch cake compared to a box cake, the opinions vary so do the arguments. I don't see anything wrong with using a boxed cake, I just think the customer should be made aware of that fact.
 

I had a bride that was a friend of a friend who ordered a cake from me recently, which was a small basic wedding cake (6"-8"-10") made with vanilla cake with ABC. My customers know that I use the cake base used in the college bakery and they like the taste of the cakes they sell there. Friends and family ask for scratch because they are accustomed to the taste of my cakes ( a souped up 1-2-3-4 cake recipe). Anyway I used a scratch cake recipe for her to sample and she did not care for it, said it was to too light and bland she didn't like the ABC either because it was too buttery tasting. She specifically asked me if I could make the thick rich buttercream like they have at Sam's. I made another sample for her with the cake base and the Winbeckler BC icing, she loved it.

 

I'm personally not a cake person, more of a brownie/cookie kinda gal. Different people have different tastes, am I going to knock her for what she likes or doesn't like? No. I wasn't going to insult her or her taste buds by telling her what she should like nor was I willing to take a chance on losing a customer and quite possibly other customers.  If my customers like the flavor of the cake base vs scratch, I make it for them and vice versa. She was happy with the end result, so I was happy.

jason_kraft Posted 2 Dec 2013 , 5:40am
post #41 of 61

A

Original message sent by enga

I don't know Jason, I thinks its is more expensive to do scratch baking requiring (flour, eggs, milk, butter, chemical leavening, and flavoring) in large volume vs a 50# bag of cake base mix that only requires water and oil.

It depends on how you have your process set up (which is part of the initial R&D). When you buy cake mix, you are paying the cake mix manufacturer for the labor, overhead, and markup involved in the mixing process as well as the cost of the ingredients. When you bake from scratch, there is some labor on your end to put the mix together, but if you have an efficient workflow the marginal cost of this labor should be minimal, and certainly less than the markup on the mix.

Scratch baking for both specialty and traditional baked goods is as much about the process (applied to your specific baking environment) as it is about the recipe. If you are lucky it is possible to copy a scratch recipe and use it on your own equipment without any trouble, but when you are building a product line chances are you will need to troubleshoot, and that's where understanding of the science comes in.

The advantage of large volumes is that the upfront R&D costs for scratch baking are fixed and happen once for each recipe, while the higher marginal costs for cake mix are variable and directly impact the profitability of every order that uses the mix. As order volumes increase, the allocated R&D costs for each scratch order drop, while the variable costs for mix orders stays the same. With smaller volumes the upfront fixed costs are relatively higher over the long run (since there are fewer orders to allocate to) which is why scratch is more expensive if your volume is low.

enga Posted 2 Dec 2013 , 9:57am
post #42 of 61

Sorry for posting OT OP :oops:

 

 

It depends on how you have your process set up (which is part of the initial R&D). When you buy cake mix, you are paying the cake mix manufacturer for the labor, overhead, and markup involved in the mixing process as well as the cost of the ingredients. When you bake from scratch, there is some labor on your end to put the mix together, but if you have an efficient workflow the marginal cost of this labor should be minimal, and certainly less than the markup on the mix.

 

I pay $60 for a 50# bag of cake mix base it cost me about $1.20 a pound. I need 2.5 pounds to 2 10" round cakes that cost me $3.00 as opposed to two boxes of store bought cake mix for $1.79 each. to make the same amount of cake. Not even including the eggs which are three to each box  which is an additional 85 cents. Factor in the a gallon of oil (128 oz) cost me about $12.00, I need 4.75 oz for the 2.5 pound recipe which cost me 9 cents. Well, water was still free last time I checked. It is cheaper for me to buy my cake mix in bulk.

 

For a scratch recipe that makes the same amount of cake: 15.00  for a 25# bag of SRF, butter is 2.99 a pound, sugar is $30 for a 50# bag, milk is $3.79 a gallon, N&M vanilla extract is $16.00 for 8 oz.

  • 2 cup butter, at room temperature = $2.99
  • 4 cups sugar $0.60 = $1.20
  • 6 cups sifted self-rising flour $0.60 = $1.80
  • 8 egg $0.15 an egg = $1.20
  • 2 cup milk $0.03 an oz = $0.48
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract $2.00 an ounce = $0.67


It still comes out cheaper for Me to make a cake using a cake base mix even if I cut the scratch recipe in half. I also don't have to worry about perishable ingredients (milk and eggs) during down times. I work two part-time jobs and do cakes on the side. I don't make a lot of money selling cakes but I enjoy making them and the extra money helps make ends meet. I have a micro (small,lol) setup and because I don't buy my ingredients in huge quantities like 10 - 50# bags at a time I do pay more for them. Every setup is different, this one happens to work for me.


Scratch baking for both specialty and traditional baked goods is as much about the process (applied to your specific baking environment) as it is about the recipe. If you are lucky it is possible to copy a scratch recipe and use it on your own equipment without any trouble, but when you are building a product line chances are you will need to troubleshoot, and that's where understanding of the science comes in.

The advantage of large volumes is that the upfront R&D costs for scratch baking are fixed and happen once for each recipe, while the higher marginal costs for cake mix are variable and directly impact the profitability of every order that uses the mix. As order volumes increase, the allocated R&D costs for each scratch order drop, while the variable costs for mix orders stays the same. With smaller volumes the upfront fixed costs are relatively higher over the long run (since there are fewer orders to allocate to) which is why scratch is more expensive if your volume is low.

 

When I said specialty items, I should have been more specific. What I meant was GF, AF, and sugar-free products. For an example this is my go-to recipe for a gluten free baking mix:

 

2 cups rice flour

2/3 cup potato starch

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

 

These ingredients are expensive at retail price and wholesale. I don't know what they go for price wise in Cali but they sure aren't cheap where I'm at. I wouldn't be able to offer GF or AF for fear of contamination in the CK I work at anyway.

 

Thank you for the breakdown Jason, who knows, maybe I will win the lottery and open up a storefront bakery with two separate kitchens. For right now, I'm okay with my setup.

 

jason_kraft Posted 2 Dec 2013 , 3:47pm
post #43 of 61

A

Original message sent by enga

For a scratch recipe that makes the same amount of cake: 15.00  for a 25# bag of SRF, butter is 2.99 a pound, sugar is $30 for a 50# bag, milk is $3.79 a gallon, N&M vanilla extract is $16.00 for 8 oz.

Where are you buying your scratch ingredients? On average you are paying about twice what I paid, even in California.

enga Posted 2 Dec 2013 , 4:54pm
post #44 of 61

Restaurant supply store, BakeMark, sometimes Sam's. It varies like today I'm going to the restaurant supply store to get a case of butter for $1.80 a pound which is a steal when compared to $2.99. Thank God butter freezes well.

texas_mom Posted 3 Dec 2013 , 12:40am
post #45 of 61

I just went and bought everything I need to make a cake from a box mix that will serve 71  people and my ingredients cost $20.71.  The cake will be three tiered each tier will be two layered each layer 4 inches tall.  So my cake will be a 10,8,6 inch rounds four inches high each layer will be a different flavor. This also covers the eggs, and everything I need to make the butter cream and fondants.  I am not sure how much a white (bottom tier) , chocolate fudge ( middle tier ) and  white/chocolate ( top tier )swirl cake would cost to make from scratch.

enga Posted 3 Dec 2013 , 1:28am
post #46 of 61

I think you did great for $20.71. The way you described the flavors made me hungry, got chocolate on the brain today.  There a price matrix posted on here some where, I just cost out my recipes by what it cost me for my ingredients, broken down to oz and pounds I need for the recipe. I'm still working on my own price matrix because as I get to the end of the list, the prices change again,lol. Good Luck with your cake!

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 3 Dec 2013 , 1:30am
post #47 of 61

I think this thread needs some comic relief. Here's something I came up with a few years ago. And yes, the picture next to Betty Crocker really is, as I recall, a picture of a General named Mills.

 

scratch

enga Posted 3 Dec 2013 , 1:36am
post #48 of 61

lol, I wish I could make my car from scratch, you know, just pour the magic compound in a mold and bake it for 45 minutes and Viola! A new car. Only in a perfect world.

texas_mom Posted 3 Dec 2013 , 1:40am
post #49 of 61

enga- LOL, I would love to do that to my kitchen, I would definitely start with a new oven.

enga Posted 3 Dec 2013 , 4:47am
post #50 of 61

IKR, King Midas wouldn't have nothing on me,:lol: lolz

jason_kraft Posted 3 Dec 2013 , 5:18am
post #51 of 61

A

Original message sent by enga

lol, I wish I could make my car from scratch, you know, just pour the magic compound in a mold and bake it for 45 minutes and Viola! A new car. Only in a perfect world.

http://autos.yahoo.com/news/urbee-2--the-3d-printed-car-that-will-drive-across-the-country-000601366.html

enga Posted 3 Dec 2013 , 7:01am
post #52 of 61
Quote:

Okay Jason, I think I got a plan........ I'll switch out the white ABS [acrylonitrile butadiene styrene] with a couple hundred pounds of dead dough, mold the frame and pop that puppy into our gigantic Fish reel oven minus 3 shelves. How long do you think I should bake it for? Ummm.......Okay we'll come back to that later. We can take a trip up to his house and you smooze him with business talk while I crawl through a window and steal the plans for the engine. I think if I bake my asabadangle off I can geterdone before they go into production.  Huhhh, huhhhhhh. Whataya say?

 

ROTFL, I'm just kidding around with you Jason, bet it made you laugh though. I could actually see this happening in a ACME cartoon world.

elliemaeee Posted 3 Dec 2013 , 7:12pm
post #53 of 61

for my 10 inch it takes to 2 scratch recipes for one layer these are my better crocker recipes its much cheper to to by scratch

enga Posted 5 Dec 2013 , 5:37am
post #54 of 61

0_o

texas_mom Posted 5 Dec 2013 , 8:47pm
post #55 of 61

So this is my question, when someone asks me for a three tier cake 2 layer four inches high each tier, one is strawberry, the other French vanilla and the third  banana ...how is that cheaper than just buying a box mix ? Are you using fresh strawberries , vanilla beans and real bananas   or just food flavorings and coloring.  Because I can make a three tier box mix cake and everything I need for $20.00 sometimes even less than that from start to finish.

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 5 Dec 2013 , 9:06pm
post #56 of 61

I think I'm repeating myself here, but . . .

 

Well, my strawberry marble uses seedless jam, with a little bit of an "imitation" flavoring that seems to be mainly strawberry extract diluted with apple juice reduction.

 

And while I don't use vanilla beans, I do use REAL extract, not artificial, just as I use REAL Vermont Grade B, not Maplene.

 

But for cakes, I still use mostly mixes.

texas_mom Posted 5 Dec 2013 , 9:19pm
post #57 of 61

I have always used box so I wouldn't even know where to begin selecting flavorings...I make only two cakes from scratch ( I have other recipes but these are our favorites), a German chocolate with frosting made from scratch for my husband on his birthday and a banana cake using real bananas and cake flour .  When I make German chocolate cake  I buy only what I need and for a two layer 8 inch round I can spend about $40.00. The rest of the year if he wants a German Chocolate cake , it is boxed $1.00 for the boxed mix  .99 for the can frosting three eggs and milk.  LOL !  I know someone who loves to bake cupcakes and they are amazing and I found that the cupcakes are doctored box mixes with flavorings and flavored fillings added.  I say ..."hey if it works...great !!"  Maybe I will get adventurous and try some flavoring myself.

kikiandkyle Posted 5 Dec 2013 , 10:01pm
post #58 of 61

AI don't make strawberry or banana flavor cakes, but if I was I'd make three batches of vanilla and the only additional expense would be some strawberries and a banana - hardly a massive outlay.

If I was going to use flavors and colors I'd just use a box, there's not much point in baking from scratch if you're only going to add chemicals anyway.

jason_kraft Posted 5 Dec 2013 , 11:19pm
post #59 of 61

A

Original message sent by kikiandkyle

I don't make strawberry or banana flavor cakes, but if I was I'd make three batches of vanilla and the only additional expense would be some strawberries and a banana - hardly a massive outlay.

Bingo. A great way to drive process efficiency is to differentiate by creating new products built on the base of other products. The ten scratch cake flavors we offered were basically minor variations on two base recipes that we processed in bulk, there's no way we could hit our price points if we had ten completely different recipes that had to each be processed individually.

This is the same thing the mix manufacturers do, they start from a base formula and make small additions to create new SKUs. We just chose not to outsource this part of our process.

MBalaska Posted 6 Dec 2013 , 1:10am
post #60 of 61

so you had a basic recipe that you added flavorings to and your wife was a scratch baker.  (did I read that right)

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%