Butter Vs. Margarine....box Cake Vs. Scratch

Decorating By busymom9501 Updated 27 Nov 2006 , 10:11pm by Susieindy

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busymom9501 Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 8:51pm
post #1 of 12

When making buttercream frosting (one that will crust) do you guys prefer to use real butter or will margarine work?? I'm also looking for a yummy crusting buttercream if anyone has one to share!

Also, do you guys make your own cake mixes or use the boxed kind? I've always had my box mixes turn out yummy and am wanting to TRY a from scratch cake but need the opinions of you experts on how well they turn out! Thanks!!!!

11 replies
chef-jeremy Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
chef-jeremy Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 9:00pm
post #2 of 12

As far as the frosting goes, margarine will work, but butter tastes much, much better. You can add just a tsp. or so of salt to really bring out the butter taste and cut back slightly on the sweetness. On the cakes, I haven't found a recipe that will touch a white cake made from a mix. I have been told that it just doesn't exist. There are other cakes that I will make from scratch, but nothing beats the ease or the taste of a mix.

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korensmommy Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 9:04pm
post #3 of 12

Hi BusyMom!
I am very new to cake decorating but have gotten so much good advice from this forum, so it's time to try to help someone else!
I only would use butter in my BC & use 2 recipes from this site - Buttercream Dream & Crusting Buttercream.
I use boxed cakes b/c the people I make cakes for usually just ask for vanilla or chocolate. I doctor up the mix by using milk (or plain yogurt)instead of water. I like using the butter recipe cake mix, it's either by Betty Crocker or Dunkin Heinz (sp?).

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Crimsicle Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 9:34pm
post #4 of 12

One of the problems with margarine is that there's no standard. One brand may have more or less water or oil than the next. You might get lucky doing a one-for-one substitution, but then again...you might not. I'd be nervous doing something under the gun without the chance to experiment a bit, but if you've got the time to play for it, I say go for it. Everyone's taste is different. You might like it better.

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3tiers Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 9:39pm
post #5 of 12

Hey fellow Kansan! In my experience, customers think that they want a scratch cake when what they really want is a moist cake - and you just can't beat a doctored cake mix for that! As far as the butter vs. margarine, I tend to use butter, but I have found that Imperial margarine works well also. I'm frugal - so I try to find cost-effective and tasty alternatives when possible!

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bookbabe Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 9:39pm
post #6 of 12

butter is definitely the way to go!!!

and I use mixes but doctor them up......

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darcat Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 9:48pm
post #7 of 12

I always use box for vanilla or golden cakes I have yet to find a really moist scratch after having tried endless recipes from here and other sites. As for margarine vs butter I always use margarine and have had great success with it no matter what brand I use. I actually use margarine in most of my baking including nfsc I think the only real exception where I use butter would be in my shortbread cookies. I find that the majority of people that eat my baked good cant tell the difference because of all the other flavours going on such as icing or chocolate or coconut and extracts etc.

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SheepThrills Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 9:51pm
post #8 of 12

Unsalted butter make delicious frosting and make scratch cakes wonderful and taller. Margarine has water in it that can cause consistency problems in both cakes and frostings.

I'm a from scratch person. I have to disagree with chef-jeremy about a good white cake from scratch. I have two different versions that have one several 1st place ribbons. They are both easy to make, very moist, and I have gotten nothing but compliments from them. For me, baking from scratch is just as easy as doctoring a cake mix to keep it from tasting like a cake mix. My recipes also make more batter than a box mix. I don't need an extender.

Good luck with your cakes and it's great to see that you like to experiment.


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MariaLovesCakes Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 10:04pm
post #9 of 12

You will find a variety of answers....

I like my scratch cakes and I enhance their flavor and moisteness with a simple syrup with is made by using water, sugar, vanilla, and liquors of choice. It is amazing at what flavors it adds to the cake, which is already flavorful.

I use margarine whenever possible, but make my buttercream 100% Crisco. I ALWAYS add almond extract, because it is a very rich flavor and it gives it a nice kick to the icing and the cake.

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coffeecake Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 10:04pm
post #10 of 12

I definately prefer butter and from scratch cakes.

That being said I have finally accepted that my family prefers cakes I make from a mix. As 3tiers says, what people usually want (and are used to) is a moist cake that is sweet and not dense.

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Sugarflowers Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 10:08pm
post #11 of 12

I agree with SheepThrills and others that butter is the way to go. My cakes come out much nicer with butter than they did with margarine. I have had many compliments on my frosting as well.

You can PM me for my frosting recipe if you would like. It's very easy.

I'm also a scratch baker. The recipes I have developed for white cake are simple and delicious. They are very moist and full of flavor. I have a cook book available through my website that has my recipes in it.

No matter any one's opinion, you have to go with what works for you. It really makes no difference whether you bake from scratch or use a mix. It's what you and your customers like. It's the same with butter or margarine. Experiment until you find what YOU like to use.

Best Baking,


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Susieindy Posted 27 Nov 2006 , 10:11pm
post #12 of 12

For BC I use Blue Bonnet margarine and no other brand. Everyone loves my buttercream. A professional cake decorator told me that's what she uses, so I started using it. Use a teaspoon of popcorn salt to cut down on the sweetness of the BC. However, if you want to make flowers, you can't use margarine because of the water content, so I will typically make easy flowers I can pipe right on the cake using the same BC.

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