I don't have a preference. My thinking is, as long as the person eating the cake is happy and gets what they want, then who cares whether it came from a box or from scratch?
Last month I did a wedding cake for a woman who wanted Duncan Hines Golden Butter cake mix. A Big. Fancy. Wedding. It was what she grew up with and what she wanted for her wedding. She searched high and low and could not find a single baker in NYC to make it for her.
And she LOVED it. Her guests LOVED it. It was what she wanted, and that's what is important to me -- giving the customer what they want. I think all the bakers out there who "refuse to compromise their reputations" by making a cake with a mix are...well...compromising their reputations. They're not serving their customers.
If someone wants a cake mix, I'll make it. If someone want a labor-intensive genoise that tastes like crap, I'll make it. If it's what they want, I'll be proud to give it to them.
While I enjoy the idea of and work involved in making things from scratch, I'm not too shy to say that I, personally, think a lot of scratch cakes out there taste like crap (even 60% of the cakes we made in pastry school). Is it a good cake when you have to disguise with syrups, fillings and flavors? I could probably dress up a kitchen sponge in much the same way and have at least a dozen people tell me it's the best cake they've ever had. Heh. A preference is a prefence and if you prefer mix cakes, it doesn't mean your pallete is any more or less refined than that of a person who enjoys scratch cakes. One isn't inherently better than the other.
It's all about the final outcome and whether people really enjoy eating it. That's what makes a cake a GOOD cake. Mix or not.
sherri, thank you SO MUCH for posting that.
I have a custom cake business. I've been in business 5 years. I'm very successful, if I do say so myself. All of my cakes start with a box.
I'm so tired of feeling embarrassed for being one of "those" bakers. You know, the kind of baker the "Real" bakers look down on because I use a MIX <gasp>! I'll tell you what though, I spent TWO YEARS doing taste tests with all kinds of scratch cake recipes and never once did someone prefer the scratch cake over my doctored mix recipes. Were my scratch cakes bad? No. Well, maybe a few of the first ones
but I improved and the scratch cakes were great. Why weren't they as popular as the mix cakes? Because *my* clientele likes mix cakes. The people who pay my bills, who order my products WANT box mix cakes.
Yes, I know there are people out there who can sniff out a box mix a mile away and wouldn't dare eat one, but those are not the people paying my bills. Those people are few and far between compared to the people who like and pay for my measely box mix recipes. I give the customers what they want, and frankly the cakes are darn good. Mixes are reliable and far easier than scratch baking. And after putting in a 40 hour day at my "real" job, I hardly have the time or desire to fight with scratch recipes all night long, especially when my customers don't even like them!
Do I enjoy scratch baking? Sure, when I have tons of time and I'm baking something special for me, I love to pull out a recipe book and give a scratch cake a try. Can I taste a difference? Yes, I can. And sometimes it's not good! Like sherri, I think lots of scratch cakes just suck. Do I appreciate what it takes to make a good scratch cake? I sure do. I also appreciate what it takes to run a business and to make my clientele happy.
For me it's all about the money and keeping the customers happy.