Cake Mix Versus Made From Scratch

Baking By mrsclaus1 Updated 26 Aug 2013 , 2:47pm by BatterUpCake

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mrsclaus1 Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 8:33pm
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I have a question. Do any of you use cake mix anymore or do all of you do scratch. I used to do wedding cakes from my home for over 20 years and I always used cake mix. That was how I was taught when I first took classes 30 years ago. Now I am going to switch over to cupcakes and it seems that everyone is using scratch recipes. I don't seem to get the same moistness that I got with mix's. I definately get flavor but I don't want a dry product. I need to replace my stove. It is over 25 years old and has put out a lot of wedding cakes over the years but I have trouble regulating the temperature so it has got to go. Maybe then I will get the moister scratch cupcakes.

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BizCoCos Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 9:00pm
post #2 of 41

Scratch cakes before discovering cake central, then I found Cc and discovered people raving about doctored cake mixes. I will stick to my scratch recipe, except for a particular white cake recpe that starts with a generic brand cake mix 9the best white cake mix ever!)
I guess my taste buds are oversensitive since the chemicl taste of BC, DH and Pillsbury always comes through. although i have experimented so much that I did manage a yellow cake box recipe that had no chemical taste-but the yellow color was still there. I will always prefer scratch from a great baker.

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scp1127 Posted 17 Feb 2012 , 7:08am
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I'm not sure what your oven has to do with the dryness. You can geta $5.00 thermometer turn your pans if there are hot spots. The reason you are getting the moistness with the box mix is because they are chemically engineered to work even when you make mistakes. But those chemicals are very apparent and cannot be hidden with added ingredients.

As to which to use, you are the only one who can decide that. You must decide on the product, price according to relative value in the market, and then reach the target market.

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cylstrial Posted 19 Feb 2012 , 11:06pm
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I bake from scratch - and I love it! My cakes are very moist and delicious! But there is nothing wrong with baking from a mix or doctoring mixes. It's really just whatever you want to do!

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jeartist Posted 19 Feb 2012 , 11:22pm
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Everyone that I've baked for loves the WASC and the varieties of it that I've tried. The only one I find that isn't as good is the RV so will stick to scratch for that one.

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EvArt Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 10:35pm
post #6 of 41

I prefer to use the Duncan Hines cake mixes over any other brand and over scratch. I don't get the chemical taste people are referring to and none of my clients have said anything about it. I doctor my mixes to get a denser and moister cake too. And part of the reason I use mix is the convenience of not having to use a bunch of other ingredients. I have the option of using a scratch recipe if I get an unusual flavor request, otherwise, it's DH for me!

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Bridgette1129 Posted 28 Feb 2012 , 12:24am
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Originally Posted by BizCoCos

I guess my taste buds are oversensitive since the chemicl taste of BC, DH and Pillsbury always comes through.

This exactly. I hate the flavor of doctored mixes.

There is a lot more customization that you can do with scratch and for me, mixing all the ingredients is part of the fun. Yes it's more labor but not by much. I don't like chemicals and think we eat way too much processed food. *Steps off soapbox*

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scp1127 Posted 28 Feb 2012 , 7:42am
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I don't care what you put in a box mix, the chemicals are very apparent. I use box mixes for one thing only, to practice a fondant technique and then I throw it in the trash. My family will not touch them.

I'm at too many events and weddings where the photographer, caterer, guests, DJ, wedding planner, all come to me and can't believe a scratch cake is available. They then talk about the box mixes everyone serves and are the status quo for weddings. They are not enjoyed as much as you all think they are because those that do this weekly know that guests know it's the same cake they can make at home in 1/2 hour for $1.00. Most of the time it is the only option in the market. I don't consider a box mix worth working off. And the plates at weddings usually reflect this too.

Remember brides choose box mixes out of economics too.

So if you can bake from scratch and can find the right market that will pay, you will usually be the only scratch option and you will have that market to yourself, while the huge group of box bakers fight over the same group of brides.

As far as a scratch cake being dry, you just have to find good recipes. I found it helps to have some knowledge of the science of scratch baking. I actually have recipes on my menu that I did not even bake before I added them. That's how in tune to the ingredients you can get. I can read a recipe, know how to change and accurately predict the outcome. Actually the same thing our grandmothers used to do. It was just a domestic chore, now we call it art.

I look for a lot of fat in a recipe. I also like buttermilk and sour cream over milk. Even though I have butter recipes, I find these need to be watched closely and the customer needs instructions on storage so that it won't get dry. I usually use a fine cocoa powder and add the fat to a chocolate cake. But again, I have some that have chocolate in the batter. Because these are solids, the batter must be able to handle that ingredient at room temp and not dry out, like butter cakes. And with experience and manipulation, my yellow butter cake now gets ultra moist in about 24 hours. I make a lot of cakes flavored with liqueurs. These cakes must start out drier and sturdier in order to accept the liqueur. And the odd thing is that many of my recipes that have brushed liqueurs start out as a whipped egg white recipes that are usually more delicate.

All I can say is that people with great scratch recipes either put in the time to experiment or someone taught them proper method and shared great recipes. My 17 year old daughter helps me and will probably take over this business after college. She has learned proper techniques and has my recipes. She has never known a failure. But I sure have. It's part of the process.

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Bellatrixx Posted 11 Apr 2012 , 9:58pm
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when working with cupcakes, i feel that they focus more on flavor than anything. Cakes are usually for a more visual stance (at least in my opinion). Therefore, i always make all my cupcakes from scratch. I don't use any frivolous decorating (not that there's anything wrong with it), I put my effort solely into the flavors icon_smile.gif

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AZCouture Posted 11 Apr 2012 , 10:09pm
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I really, REALLY wanted to like the WASC. I gave it several chances a few years back, and tried it with different mixes. I just couldn't stomach the smell and the cake mix taste. I experiments like crazy with some scratch recipes I found online, and tweaked a few to my liking, and I couldn't be happier with my all scratch line up.

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AZCouture Posted 11 Apr 2012 , 10:13pm
post #11 of 41

And some from popular baking books too.

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leah_s Posted 11 Apr 2012 , 10:43pm
post #12 of 41

I can taste all the chemicals in box cake mix. And the texture is usually kinda funky too.

I learned to bake in 4H when I was 9 years old. That's right 9 years old. And now I've been baking from scratch for over 50 years.

If a 9 year old can do it, so can you.

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Osgirl Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 1:04am
post #13 of 41

I much prefer scratch! I don't bake and sell (just bake for family, friends, and coworkers), and they all much prefer scratch. A lot of them bake from boxes, but they say they can tell the difference and are amazed I only bake from scratch.

I would never buy a cake or cupcakes from someone who uses box mixes. I don't care how good it tastes or if I couldn't taste the chemicals. Sorry, I just couldn't!

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lilmissbakesalot Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 1:44am
post #14 of 41

Scratch baker here too... I grew up baking and, for me, there is no other way.

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michellew Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 1:47am
post #15 of 41

i dont think you can beat a cake from scratch, wouldnt dream of using a mix, x

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buglady Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 2:48am
post #16 of 41

When I first started decorating I used a mix, but no one ate it but family. This was only until I could find a good scratch recipe . Now that I have one I would never go back to a mix.

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Karema Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 3:14am
post #17 of 41

When I first started my business I started with mix then I started using the WASC recipe. I kept telling my husband and mom that I couldn't bake from scratch bc people didn't like it that much bc it was dry. When I moved the market was so saturated that I had to do something to stand out. I started baking from scratch and I'm not perfect. My red velvet, and chocolate, and lemon are perfect. My coconut still drops in the center and the yellow pulls a way from the liners. I'm not perfect but let me tell you customers know the difference and they appreciate it!!! I will never go back to mix bc now that I know how to bake from scratch I won't do it any other way. I'm not snotty about it though bc if I went to someones event and they served me a box cake mix I would eat it and shut up. I'm not rude. Personally I would rather have a good tasting box mix rather than a dry, tasteless scratch cake any day.

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Oreobo Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 3:21am
post #18 of 41

I love baking from scratch. Can't compare scratch to box. icon_smile.gif

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ChristaBaker Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 3:54am
post #19 of 41

I bake entirely from scratch too. I know there are many cake decorators who use a mix (or a doctored mix) but I can always tell a mix cake, even a doctored one. Years ago I used mixes, but then I started to feel like I was cheating when people started paying me for the cakes. Also, I felt like scratch baking is a kind of dying art form and I was determined to learn it. Now I will not go back.

It can take many tries to find recipes you are happy with. I had the same problem with dryness, but I kept trying new recipes and found ones I love. I also got an oven thermometer and I check the temp every time I bake. I am careful when I measure my flour (I spoon it into the cup measure then level it, instead of the ol' "dip 'n' sweep method, or I measure it by volume). Lastly, I am careful to watch the time when baking.

If you need some good recipes, I have a scratch-baking blog you can check out:

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scp1127 Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 10:23am
post #20 of 41

I feel like it's a dying art too. But with boutique bakeries making a comeback, the trend looks like scratch will be making headway in the market. Look at the market makeup in bigger cities. Not onlt cakes and cupcakes, but many specialty shops, like macarons and whoopies, are also scratch.

The issue with the scratch bakeries is that on small items, the cost isn't that much higher for a gourmet treat.

I'm usually quick to offer a recipe or baking tip to anyone deciding to make the plunge to learn to bake from scratch. We need more converts.

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MimiFix Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 11:29am
post #21 of 41

I teach baking and the past couple of years there's been a stronger interest in learning how to bake from scratch.

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brenda549 Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 1:54pm
post #22 of 41

I started as a box mix baker. Then I tried to doctor mixes. They were much better than straight up mixes. Then I tried the WASC. It had the consistency and taste of cornbread when I finished. Thinking it was me, I tried it again with similar results.

I was enlightened when I found some old family recipes and tried them out. I am now completely scratch, including fondant (unless I need black or red). The taste was so much better to me, and I am quite the geek and enjoy all the scientific learning that goes with scratch baking!

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khewston Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 2:54pm
post #23 of 41

I haven't sold any of my cakes. I just bake for my family. I started out using box mixes with extenders. I had, at one point, really loved the WASC. The last time I made any cake from a box mix it came out awful. Now I'm baking from scratch only. I love the results!

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jgifford Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 3:02pm
post #24 of 41

Again? OK - - -

Like leah_s, I started baking as soon as my mother would let me near the stove. I grew up baking from scratch - - mixes just weren't part of the equation. I was baking authentic desserts for my French class in high school - - no big deal.

Turns out I have a talent for baking and that's something that can't be taught. Skill, on the other hand, is something developed over time. I learned the science of baking long after I had my own techniques and recipes mastered. I've been working on developing my decorating skill for the last 12-14 years. I don't have the talent for it, so it has been work.

Now I bake both ways - from scratch and using doctored mixes - depending on the situation. I have no problem with anyone who prefers one over the other. What I do have a problem with is the arrogance and outright condescension displayed on both sides in these forums. That's what gets everybody's knickers in a twist.

The end goal should be happy customers and profitable businesses - isn't that what we want? The path each of us takes to that goal is determined by many factors that others will never know. Each of us has different strengths, and we bring them here to share and help each other.

Now - - what is the topic for the next sermon?

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BizCoCos Posted 13 Apr 2012 , 12:42am
post #25 of 41

I am a scratch baker, however, nicely said, jgifford.

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madcobbler Posted 13 Apr 2012 , 3:15am
post #26 of 41

What I like about scratch baking over mixes is that I have complete control over all the ingredients. I can alter the recipe to make it gluten free or sugar free. I also like that scratch cakes don't have preservatives or artificial ingredients. Scratch cake recipes made with vegetable oil are moister in my opinion than those made with butter. It took me many years to find a really good WASC and a basic butter cake recipe that had both a nice texture and flavor. I used doctored cakes mixes until I found scratch recipes that I really liked. Is one really better than the other? Taste is very subjective and if you have better results using a boxed cake mix then use what works for you.

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rockinbobbin Posted 13 Apr 2012 , 12:23pm
post #27 of 41

You all just don't know how awesome this forum is! I LOVE it when you get on your soapboxes about an issue you feel strongly about. I can read it, let the info (or opinion) sink in, and then take it or leave it. I can't wait to try some scratch recipies as I've been a box mix baker for family only. I am so ready to try new things and have fun in the kitchen. I wish I could have a master cake-baker/decorator by my side to teach me new tricks, but alas, that will never happen. in the mean time, this board provides me with the information I need to help myself.

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lilmissbakesalot Posted 16 Apr 2012 , 6:41pm
post #28 of 41

Ahhh... if only everyone was like you rockinbobbin (love the name btw). And I mean that with 100% sincerity.

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PinkLotus Posted 17 Apr 2012 , 12:20am
post #29 of 41

Always from scratch. I know a lot of people who LOVE the taste of box mix cakes, but I can't stand it.

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scp1127 Posted 17 Apr 2012 , 4:38am
post #30 of 41

Rockinbobbin, you are wrong about someone beside you. If you need a flavor, start a thread stating that you are looking for scratch only recipes. We will provide some. Find one you like and we will help you through it, even if you have to make it a few times.

You are in the right place to get a free scratch baking education with many teachers ready to help.

My pm box is full of success stories from people who thought they couldn't do it.

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