Reproduce A Cake Mix Cake--From Scratch?

Baking By rowantree Updated 7 Jul 2011 , 1:30am by rowantree

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rowantree Posted 3 Jul 2011 , 12:55am
post #1 of 10

Hi, I'm not sure where to ask this question, so I'll start here. I have a couple of recipes for really good specialty cakes made from cake mixes and other ingredients, and I want to reproduce them all from scratch, so what kind of cake are we looking at? Butter cake, Genoise, etc?

One calls for a dark chocolate cake mix. I've made the Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate cakes, and they are all soft and fluffy. What recipe will give me the closest thing? My devil's food recipe is pretty moist and dense so that won't work. I was thinking some kind of pound cake might work, but not sure.

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Marianna46 Posted 4 Jul 2011 , 4:52pm
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The thing about cake mixes is that they are full to the brim with leaveners, so the cakes come out very light - it's totally impossible to stack or carve them because of this. I think I would try to adapt the recipe you have, but making sure to use cake flour and more baking powder than the recipe calls for. Even so, I'm convinced there's something in them besides baking powder that makes them so "fluffy", as you so aptly describe it.

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Texas_Rose Posted 4 Jul 2011 , 6:03pm
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The other thing that makes cake mixes so fluffy is the emulsifiers...not only do they affect how the oil and water in the mix combine, they also change air distribution in the mix. More tiny bubbles=lighter, fluffier cake.

You can buy emulsifiers to add to scratch cakes, like this one:

Personally, I haven't found the need to experiment with scratch cakes and emulsifiers, because cake mixes work just fine for me, and the people I bake for aren't particular about scratch or mix. I'm also not sure if adding chemicals to a scratch cake defeats the purpose of making a cake from scratch...but it's something that you might try.

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cakeyouverymuch Posted 4 Jul 2011 , 7:00pm
post #4 of 10

You might find some useful information here:

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scp1127 Posted 5 Jul 2011 , 5:27am
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There are not really any shortcuts. The best advice I can give is to stick with the box mixes until you have a scratch cake that is better. This comes from learning the techniques and finding the right recipes. Do one flavor at a time and don't move on until that one is what you want. For every recipe you try, keep notes. Soon you will be able to look at the recipes and know what your cake will be like.

I'm not sure that your goal should be to emulate a box mix. What is the point? The scratch cake should be better tasting and more appealing... you should never want a box cake again when you get it right. My cakes have nothing in common with box cakes and there is no doubt, even by the inexperienced, that these cakes are not only scratch, but a perfect combination of fine ingredients, expertly baked.

Scratch and great scratch are two different things. Many times you will see a baker post that her clients don't like scratch cakes. This is a bad scratch cake that can't even compete with the box mix. If you pick a flavor to start, and use the word scratch in the heading, all of the scratch bakers on this site will help you. We can even suggest great starter recipes.

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rowantree Posted 5 Jul 2011 , 12:27pm
post #6 of 10

Thanks for the replies, but I think my question needs a little rephrasing. I think what I'm looking for is they type of cake that box cakes are imitating. There are several types of cakes--sponge, genoise, butter, etc, and I just can't quite figure out which one a box cake is supposed to be most like.

I don't particularly want to add "chemicals" to my scratch cakes, though I like some of the tips on the GroupsRecipes site, I would just like to make the recipe that calls for a box cake as one component, and use a scratch cake recipe for that part of it.

I hope that's a little clearer. I generally shouldn't do forum questions late at night, or really early in the morning--at least not without my morning coffee! LOL

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scp1127 Posted 5 Jul 2011 , 4:31pm
post #7 of 10

If you mean you want to try to use a doctored recipe, but change the dry ingredients to scratch, you have an uphill battle. Your add-ins will change the chemical balance of the recipe. And the pudding is artificial if that is one of your components, which defeats the purpose of scratch baking. Each recipe must be developed on its own. Those box mixes have been highly developed to produce acceptable results no matter how many mistakes you make. That is one of the reasons you can throw anything into them and they still bake. That does not exist in nature. One small mistake can cause a failed scratch cake.

Sorry, but there is really no shortcut to learning how to bake well from scratch. We can guide you, but it still takes learning the skill. But, more and more master bakers are opening up bakeries and cake shops. The quickly saturating market is rapidly gaining vendors. So if you want to always be able to compete in the market, no matter who opens in your area, this is a useful skill.

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rowantree Posted 6 Jul 2011 , 2:53am
post #8 of 10

Hmmm...I'm not actually looking for a shortcut. I bake scratch cakes all the time. I like to bake scratch cakes, and enjoy researching old recipes and trying to make them new again.

What I need is not a way to make a scratch cake quicker, or easier. I just want to be pointed in the direction of a recipe for a scratch cake that may have a similar texture to a box cake. I just don't want to use a box cake mix.

Does anyone have a scratch recipe for a dark chocolate cake that is light and fluffy, as opposed to one that is dense and moist? I could use a Yellow Cake recipe as well.

Thanks, and I'm sorry that I'm having so much trouble expressing my self in this issue!

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Marianna46 Posted 6 Jul 2011 , 3:39pm
post #9 of 10

I think I get you now! Most scratch cakes are indeed a lot denser than cakes from mixes, so maybe you could try any of those cakes that have beaten egg whites in them, like chiffon, angel food and others. They're generally lighter and would therefore resemble boxed mixes more.

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rowantree Posted 7 Jul 2011 , 1:30am
post #10 of 10

Thanks! I had sort of thought about whites, but wasn't too sure. I'll try the chiffon cake I make, it's always good!

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