Scratch Cake...big Flop!

Baking By mami2sweeties Updated 13 Apr 2007 , 5:40am by jlh

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mami2sweeties Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 7:26pm
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Oh I am so frustrated. I made the Sarah Philips ultimate butter cake with great expectations and I was so disappointed. I am sure her recipe is great but I did something wrong. The cake came out heavy (which I was expecting) but I thought it was too heavy. It has a floury taste to it and the crumbs seemed a little underdone but I took it out when the toothpick came out clean.

I know many people rave about scratch cake and I have yet to make one that I like. I need to taste one from someone who knows how to make them right.

I did try one recipe from Great American Cakes from a Barbara Katfka (sp?). That one was good and it was like what I think a cake to be. Slightly heavy but fluffy. It just had a small hint of eggyness to it.

I want to give up but I have this "I can't quit" attitude. I really wanted to find a cake recipe for my friends who are sensitive to preservatives.

I just had to vent and I even wasn't sure what board to post this under.

26 replies
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hn87519 Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 7:33pm
post #2 of 27

I am not familar with either recipe, but I think that chocolate is easier to do. Most of the recipes I've made have been decent and above.

With yellow cakes they are more difficult. Either are too light or too heavy, or something.

Do get an oven thermometer. Don't open the oven a lot. You might try those bake even cake strips too, I hear they do work. The types of pans you use can make a difference too.

Don't give up! When you find a good recipe you'll be glad you did.

A decent chocolate cake to start off with is the one on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box.

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mami2sweeties Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 7:37pm
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I have made that Chocolate cake your are talking about. I just went to look at the pictures and my cake looks just like it. Maybe I just don't know what scratch cakes should taste like!

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ellepal Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 7:41pm
post #4 of 27

I did this same recipe with the same results; and what was worse is that noone at work liked the cake. They thought it was too heavy and "weird". That is why I am sticking to doctored mixes; they don't get complaints! Although I enjoy the taste of a good ol' scratch cake.

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mami2sweeties Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 8:36pm
post #5 of 27

Maybe this is what it is supposed to be like. My cake was not as tall as the one in the picture on baking911. I used 8 in pans and I baked another 6 in. as well. I read a comment that one lady did the same thing I did so I know it wasn't like a big no no or something.

I am just not getting why it has a floury taste. Maybe it will taste better after it sits a few hours. I know that other yellow caked seemed less eggy the next day. My cake did exactly what those pics were showing. It cuts up nicely. I had to go back and re-read to see if I did something wrong. I guess I will never know.

Oh one more thing. I did bake in no stick pans. That is one bad no no for me when it comes to cakes. I like the Wilton pans the best for cakes. I did lower the oven temp to 325 like the site said to do too.

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mami2sweeties Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 8:38pm
post #6 of 27

What's anyone got against doctored mixes anyway?

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HollyPJ Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 8:42pm
post #7 of 27

One yellow scratch cake I really like is Anna's Swedish Butter Cake from The Perfect Cake by Susan Purdy.

I like doctored mixes, too.

I agree that it's easier to make a good scratch chocolate cake than scratch yellow.

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ape Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 8:42pm
post #8 of 27

Everyone always talks about doctored mixes.....what are you supposed to do to them to make them better? I'm sure everyone has their own special thing, but is anyone willing to share?

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HollyPJ Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 8:45pm
post #9 of 27

The Cake Mix Doctor books are where I get my recipes.

Basically, she adds things like butter, sour cream, vanilla, and pudding mix to make cake mixes richer and more flavorful.

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onebigdogmama Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 8:55pm
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Mami2sweeties, Sara does have a forum that you can ask her what happened. I am not sure how long it will take to reply but she answered one of my postings.

For people that don't like the "extra junk" in their food, that maybe harder to find a good recipe. I use the cake mix doctors first two books. I was thinking of trying that one too. ??

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ashianadotkom Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 9:29pm
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Mami2sweets i made the cake from sarah phillips and it was great.
Light( not as light as box) and moist and defenitely not flour tasting.
I made it the eggnog flavored during christmas. If you light light cakes you should try chiffon cakes or use cake flour in stead of all purpose flour.
Good luck!!

Please don't take this personally but i more than half the time it is not the recipe . I took me years of reading , trial and determination to get where i am when it comes to baking and i still have to learn so much especially when it comes to decorating. icon_cry.gif

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 9:31pm
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Got your Pm kiddo.
Well first of all, I would start off with using the size of pans called for, I take it she means the 9 by 2 inch deep pans, it looks like it is not a heavy riser so that makes a difference. Also, using heavy, not black coated non-stick pans makes a difference in how a cake cooks, that is true but at 325F that should have helped. Sometimes when you get into using the smaller pans for from scratch recipes, you won't get the true results that you would get if you used the pan size called for. I have the same problem for a couple of other from-scratch cake recipes, it just affects the way they cook. It does work in some cases but it just isn't going to be as consistent as it is with cake mixes following package instructions.
I would stick with using unbleached flour, not sure if you did or not and though with some cakes there is not a noticable difference there is with others. I can tell the difference in many cakes I make when I substitute the regular all-purpose when unbleached was called for.
Not certain if she called for sifting flour before measuring or what but that can also make a difference in that once flour is aerated you are using less flour than if it is compacted in your container.
I only use whole milk in cakes, there is a huge difference in the outcome when using 2% or skim milk. Not sure if that is a factor. Yes some people use the other milks with lower butterfat contents but boy if you experiment and make them with the various types of milk, you will see a big difference.
Overbeating or beating at too high a speed is a major issue with from scratch cakes. Once that flour is in there you can really damaged the molecular strands of your cake batter if you beat too high or too long. There is also an issue if you underbeat your eggs, fat or sugar.
I have been searching for 40 years for the perfect white or yellow cake, chocolate was easy to find, so were a few others. But even though I have made many good yellow or white cakes I have yet to find the perfect yellow or white cake. I think a white cake that has buttermilk, cake flour and shortening is the way to go for the lighter more moist white cake from scratch, butter will make it too dense. For a yellow cake, look for recipes with oil, butter is best for flavour but you will get a very dense cake when using butter.
I am not a cake mix fan, I find them too sweet but then, I was around when they first came out here and I actually think they were much better in those days. I find them also too spongey or a texture that I just don't care for. Having said that, I still will turn to a cake mix for most white or yellow cakes and doctor the heck out of them. I prefer a white cake made only with eggwhites, no yolks. I do use the White Almond Sour Cream Cake recipe on this site. I also use Auzzie's Extendacake for white cakes and it is the only one to which I add butter and find it works out well.
I would have to go back and take a look at that recipe again but the one thing I might try as an experiment with it would be to switch to buttermilk for the milk called for. Now buttermilk is usually 2% but it has a totally different affect on some cakes. However if you switch, it does have an affect on acidity levels so normally where buttermilk is called for you need baking soda and I am not sure if this recipe calls for it or not. There would have to be a bit of tweaking with that.
Never refrigerate a butter cake, this can damage most butter cakes and dry them out and effect their consistency. Sometimes butter cakes do ripen and are best if sealed and then eaten the next day. That is also true with some loaves.
Not sure why she says it doesn't matter if the temperature of ingredients are room temperature or not, most times it does have an effect on how they cream and whip up.
You are never going to get the same texture you get from a cake mix cake and I am not sure if that is what you are expecting. A from scratch cake generally is more dense, you really sink your teeth into it, it isn't spongey unless you are making a sponge or chiffon type of cake recipe. of course, a cake made with cake flour will have a much more delicate crumb. But a butter cake is supposed to be dense.
Here is a thought for people that react to preservatives, an angel food cake is very easy to make. No fat, so good for people watching fat contents, less sugar than most recipes too. Only disadvantage is that you cannot decorate it in quite the same manner but you can use stabilzed whipped cream and can even cut a tunnel in it after you torte and put a filling made of fruit. It is possible to use a buttercream on it, preferrably something whipped like the Whimsical Bakehouse Buttercream. There is nothing like a homemade angel food cake, they are quite something and very easy to make, light and fluffy and moist.
Hugs Squirrelly

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mami2sweeties Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 10:25pm
post #13 of 27

Pan size called for was 9 in and I used 8 in but another person said they used an 8 in. in the comments and they said it was ok. But all I had was 8in or 10 in. So that is one thing I can fix.

The flour I thought I used was unbleached but there is a possiblity it was bleached. I make it a habbit to always buy unbleached but I think I have bought bleached this last time. Just didn't want to go back to the store again. So that is one thing I can fix.

She does not ask that anything be sifted. Just spoon and level off.

I only have whole milk.

Where is the Auzzie Extendacake recipe?

I am guessing the flour made it go wrong. I will try it again but use the right size pans. I guess I wil have to get 9 in. rounds.


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SquirrellyCakes Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 10:47pm
post #14 of 27

I noted Ape's request so typed up some different doctored recipes.
Doctored Cake Mix 1
1 Duncan Hines Deluxe White Cake Mix
1 Jello Instant Pudding Mix - 4 serving size
4 large egg whites
I added 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup oil
Mix on low for 30 seconds, then on medium for 2 minutes. Then bake in greased and floured pan as per the box directions.
I tripled this for a larger sheet cake and I have to say, as much as I am not a big cake mix fan, it was darn good. It does sink a bit after it comes out of the oven, but it has a great texture and is nice and moist.

Bunnywoman's (from the Wilton site, a good pal!) Pound Cake Recipe - or recipe for a stand-up bear or a cake where you need the cake to be able to hold up well
1 pkg any flavour cake mix
1 pkg. of the complimentary flavour of instant pudding mix, 4 servings size - for example for a white mix use vanilla pudding mix, etc.
1 cup whole milk
1 cup Crisco oil
4 large eggs
Blend ingredients for about 1 minute on low then 2 minutes on medium, scraping sides of bowl often. Bake for around the regular time frame, but at 325F.. I found I had to increase the time considerably - probably because of the amount of oil in the liquids. This makes a spongey type of cake, really moist though and good.

Auzzi From the Wilton Site's Extendacake Pound Cake
This is the only recipe I add butter too and love it.
1 pkg of any kind of cake mix to which you add all of the ingredients called for on the box
In addition you add:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup Crisco oil - she substitutes 1/2 cup softened butter instead and so did I - wonderful!
2/3 cup water
I beat the butter, then added all of the ingredients the cake mix called for and then all of the other ingredients. Then I blended on low for 1 minute, then 2 minutes on medium, scraping the bowl down. Gnerally, cook at 325F for the larger cakes, 350 for smaller and you will need to add baking time, perhaps about 10-15 minutes to the times given on the cake mix box. I checked ever 5 minutes or so over the cake mix times. Also a wonderful cake.

I think this recipe is on site, I know I have copied it here many times and it likely is in the recipe section.
White Almond Sour Cream Cake
2 boxes white cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
2 2/3 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp real vanilla
2 tsp almond extract
2 cups (16 oz) sour cream
8 large egg whites

Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on a low speed for 2 minutes. Bake at 325 degrees until cake tests done.

This recipe makes:
One 14" round and one 6" round or
One 16" round or
One 12" round and one 10" round or
One 12 X 18" sheet cake or
One 12" round and one 8" round and one 6" round

Half the recipe makes:
Two 8" rounds or
Two 6" rounds and 6 cupcakes

Double the recipe makes:
one 18" round + one 10" round
all 4 sizes in the Wilton petal pan set

For chocolate cake: use chocolate mixes, omit almond extract and substitute 6 whole eggs for the whites.

For liqueur flavors: substitute alcohol (such as champagne or Kahlua) for about 1 cup of the water in the recipe

For berry flavors: Substitute one 3oz pkg Jell-o in a coordinating flavor for part of the sugar in the recipe. You can use either Jello Gelatine or instant pudding but with the gelatine and berries you have a less stable or dense cake so it isn't my favourite choice for a stacked cake. Use a 16 oz pkg frozen berries, thaw reserving the juice. Substitute the berry juice for part of the water in the recipe, and stir the berries in at the end. *You'll need to add a little extra batter to each pan for this version.* I found at least a cup and a half more batter to an 8 inch round.
Edited to add: When I use a cake mix I nearly always use whole milk in place of all or most of the water called for.

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 9 Feb 2006 , 11:00pm
post #15 of 27

Here is another favourite doctored cake mix recipe and another favourite from-scratch.
Chocolate Chip Cake

1 Duncan Hines Devil's Food Moist Deluxe Cake Mix
1 pkg. (4 serving size) Jello Instant Pudding, Chocolate
1 cup milk (I use whole milk)
1/2 cup liquid Crisco shortening
The recommended amount of eggs as per the box (sorry don't have the mix handy)
1 cup chocolate chips
Put mix in bowl and make a well in the center. Add pudding mix. In separate bowl, combine slightly beaten eggs (beat slightly with a fork), milk and oil. Pour in center of well and mix as per package directions. Stir in chocolate chips and pour batter into greased and floured pans as usual, following recommended baking times and temperatures as per the box. Cool as per box instructions.
We like this cake with the following icing.

Chocolate Cinnamon Mocha Icing

1/4 cup butter, cut up in pieces
4 squares (1 ounce size) of unsweetened chocolate, chopped or grated
2 tsp. Taster's Choice Instant Coffee mixed into 2 or 4 tbsp. of boiling water, see note below
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups of sifted before you measure, icing sugar
Cream - see below
Two ways of making this icing, on the stove at low heat, all ingredients together. In which case you use only 2 tbsp. of boiling water with your 2 tsp. instant coffee in it and you will add between 4-6 tbsp. of unwhipped whipping cream. This method, you just dump all of the recipes in a small saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth. Add as much cream as it takes to get the consistency you want. Then remove from heat and ice cake. You have to work faster with a heated icing; otherwise it will get a fudgy appearance.
Without heat, in a mixer bowl, cream your chopped butter. Melt your chocolate in a small bowl placed over a pan of boiling water - do not get water into chocolate. When chocolate is melted add to butter. Add 2 tsp. of coffee that you have in 4 tbsp. of boiling water. Mix cinnamon in with icing sugar and add one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition
Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

2 1/4 cups of pre-sifted before you measure, cake flour - (do not substitute all-purpose)
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup of Crisco shortening
1 1/2 cups of white granulated sugar
2 eggs, I use large ones
2, one ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate, melted by grating or chopping chocolate, place chocolate in small bowl over bowl or pan of boiled water - not on the heat!! Do not substitute sweetened or semi-sweet chocolate.
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (usually about 2-3 bananas, make sure they are really ripe)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup chocolate chips
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl. Cream shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. Add vanilla. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk and mashed bananas, in thirds. Beat well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips. Turn into greased and floured pans. This recipe will make 2, 9 inch by 1 1/2inch deep layers. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean

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bubblezmom Posted 10 Feb 2006 , 12:10am
post #16 of 27

Sarah's recipe has gotten mixed reviews. I don't have a lot of time to bake so I opted not to try her recipe. It seemed to fall in the "too heavy, cornbready" category. People have gotten better results with the spin-off recipes that one of the CC members created like the egg nog cake. Those recipes are also on baking911.

Like anything in life, baking takes practice. It takes a few tries to learn how to properly cream the butter and sugar, mix the batter the right amount of time, fold in egg whites, and bake the right temp and right amount of time.

I still am in complete disbelief that no one remembers all the "doctored" cakemix recipes from the 70's. The cakemixes then were not full of overpowering fake flavor and readily absorbed anything added to the mix. It pains me that the cake doctor lady has made a fortune off what was common knowledge. I guess there really is nothing new under the sun. icon_razz.gif

If you don't live in a city, then visit one nearby. Go to a real bakery or deli and buy cake slices. You will know the scratch cake when you make happy noises like when you're eating an Oreo blizzard on a hot summer day. icon_smile.gif

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HollyPJ Posted 10 Feb 2006 , 12:54am
post #17 of 27
Originally Posted by bubblezmom

I still am in complete disbelief that no one remembers all the "doctored" cakemix recipes from the 70's. The cakemixes then were not full of overpowering fake flavor and readily absorbed anything added to the mix. It pains me that the cake doctor lady has made a fortune off what was common knowledge. I guess there really is nothing new under the sun. icon_razz.gif

I have church cookbooks from the 70's and 80's with those doctored mix recipes. Most of them were Bundt cake recipes.

I say good for the cake mix doctor for making money by bringing that stuff back to the light of day! I just wish I'd thought of it first. icon_smile.gif

Mami2sweeties-Maybe you should try a new scratch recipe instead of trying Sarah's again. You'll find one you like eventually.

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mami2sweeties Posted 10 Feb 2006 , 4:38am
post #18 of 27

Well, I really like what Squirrely told me about the texture. As I tihnk more about it, I will not try Sarah's recipe again.

I have a yellow cake recipe that has cake flour and it baked up fluffy. Almost like a box mix but a more tender crumb. It was not "spongy" like Squirrely called it.

I also went back to read the review and realized I was not dealing with the same type recipe. It was pound cakey but lighter and that is not the cake recipe type I am looking for. Squirrely said the same thing about all butter and ubleached flour type recipes.

Thanks for your help. I think I am sticking to Barbara Kafka recipe in Great American Cakes.

I also learned that every recipe is different. I know that sounds obvious but I really was looking for more a cake mix type scratch cake. I just wanted to make it from scratch so I could avoid any preservative and artificial flavorings for some friends that can't handle that.

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chaptlps Posted 10 Feb 2006 , 4:55am
post #19 of 27

k I think I will put in my two cents here.
I have found that cake recipes where you add the egg yolks and beat the whites seperately make for a more delicate crumb like a mix cake. I have tried other scratch recipes and yes they are heavier than mix cakes. Which is aok in my book they have their purpose. When I am baking a cake the is especially tall or is an odd shape the heavier scratch cakes hold their shape much better.
when you want delicate then probably use a mix instead.
I am going to do some experimenting this week to see if my hypothosis is correct about seperating the eggs to make it fluffier and lighter textured. I will let ya'll know how it turns out.

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chaptlps Posted 10 Feb 2006 , 4:57am
post #20 of 27

sheesh, my grandma would roll over in her grave if she saw how I was butchering the english language, ( she was an english teacher)

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bostonterrierlady Posted 15 Feb 2006 , 2:32am
post #21 of 27

I have tried this one and it was good. White buttermilk cake. I found it at

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sharip35 Posted 12 Apr 2007 , 5:39pm
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smbegg Posted 12 Apr 2007 , 5:52pm
post #23 of 27

when I made a scratch butter cake, it came out tasting like bisquick. Yucky.

I am not sure if I posted this before, but I did a taste test with scratch VS extended box mixes, and the boxed ones one each time. With the only exception being the chocolate. They were about equal, but with the amount of extra work entailed, I have given up on scratch cakes.


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steplite Posted 13 Apr 2007 , 1:33am
post #24 of 27

I have great sucess with Toba Garrett's 'Moist yellow cake" recipe and Slyvia Weinstocks "Classic yellow cake recipe. I only use softassilk cake flour. Both cakes taste very good.

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indydebi Posted 13 Apr 2007 , 5:02am
post #25 of 27
Originally Posted by ellepal

I did this same recipe with the same results; and what was worse is that noone at work liked the cake. They thought it was too heavy and "weird". That is why I am sticking to doctored mixes; they don't get complaints!....

Just this week, I tried the add-pudding-an-and-extra-egg and sent in a test cake with hubby to my official cake testers! (They luv being my test audience!)

I will never use this again. It's back to my 25-years-and-never-failed method of straight mixes. The comment that nixed it was "....this taste like every other cake you can get anywhere. Debi's cakes usually POP!" I've gotten too many comments over the years on how "different" my cakes taste (which is weird to me because it's just a mix cake!). I do *not* want my cakes to be described as "they taste like everyone else's".

But this is why we keep trying new things! Some things work and some don't. I made a scratch diabetic cake for a sampling last week. The bride didnt' like it, but I ate all the leftovers - wasn't bad! icon_wink.gif (Bride said, "It's ok for a DIABETIC cake!").

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MamaBerry Posted 13 Apr 2007 , 5:17am
post #26 of 27

I didn't see it mentioned here but I've noticed that when you make scratch cakes gas vs. electric ovens make a difference.

If you have an electric oven note that electric dries your cake a little more than a gas oven. Also, keep in mind elevation and change your recipe ingredients accordingly.

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jlh Posted 13 Apr 2007 , 5:40am
post #27 of 27

I have to share a funny story. My son's preschool teacher recently asked me to make her husband a "belated bday cake". She mix yellow cake and canned chocolate frosting!! She originally ordered a custom cake from a prominent local bakery and spent quite a bit of money on it. He told her he didn't like it, and really wanted one just like his mom used to make. I think the mixes are a form of comfort food for many.

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