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Do you use Boxed Cake Mixes?

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#211 K8memphis

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 04:19 PM

...
My rhetoric question is, why the heat & drama about cake mix (not to Darcie B, just in general)
...

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I don’t see that much heat or drama on the thread regarding people’s opinion on others who want to use a cake mix.


Why keep insisting to people that prefer scratch cakes based on taste, texture, mouthfeel or other reasons that there is no difference between scratch and mix cakes?

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Yes, no in general in the country, box or scratch is more polarizing than fois gras or no fois gras, or even the trans fat debate. I am not insisiting that there is no difference in scratch or mix. I'm asking why is there such a polarity. There is a big difference between the two and unless one is a very good cake baker, one cannot duplicate the qualities of a mix with scratch ingredients. Great cake can be made. But so-o many wedding cakes taste like so much sweetened egg white poo. The learning curve is high to make great scratch cake that performs right for weddings.

#212 aiar

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 04:41 PM

Great first post. Welcome to egullet.

Thank you, K8. Now I just need to get over my habit of lurking and join in!

FYI, The Gluten Free Pantry makes a brownie mix that produces one of the best brownies I've eaten, including scratch.

I haven't tried that mix; we're somewhat limited to what's readily available here and the product lineup changes frequently. I will keep an eye out though, or see if one of the health food stores here can order it in.

Can we start on the icing now-those who use crisco and those who don't LOL. :wink:

Crisco is... unnatural. I can taste it from across the room and it's not a taste I enjoy. Again, I didn't grow up with it, so my palate isn't accustomed to that particular flavour sensation. My husband made a couple of pies one afternoon as a special treat, only to have me wrinkle my face up and stare accusingly at this blatant attempt to "poison" me :laugh: I ate the filling, but just could not get over the Crisco taste.

I know, I don't deserve nice things.

#213 Rebecca263

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 07:00 PM

...Having said that, emulsifiers have a smell. Those of us not used to eating them on a regular basis can smell them, so we think the foods containing them taste like hand cream. Enough said...

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THAT'S what my sister's cakes taste like! Hand cream! O/T: Tonight we celebrated sister's birthday, she had a Carvel ice cream cake. My kiddle must be missing my cooking, at least a little, dont'cha think? Kiddle ate the crunchies out of the center of her piece, she said they tasted like Hydrox. Which we miss, dearly. :laugh:
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#214 K8memphis

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 08:47 PM

Of course Kiddle misses Mom's cooking. Me too, gonna get me some pate.

Shortening has a place in baking but maybe not for long with all the trans fat controversy going on. But I like to use shortening in some cookies like snickerdoodles and in my tea-ring dough because the filling is so rich and caramelly. But I don't use shortening in cake. I do use it in icing that I would use to make decorations out of. Like piping roses or something like that. Just depends although I do use butter for that icing also.

Umm, but Wilton is using the smelly stuff in their fondant. It's horridly awful. However I do not detect it in the cake mix I use.

Now when I worked for Seessel's here in Memphis their cakes tasted horrible without icing. So I can detect the taste and the smell. Every cake mix probably has emulsifiers but not all of them stink with it.

Edited by K8memphis, 30 January 2007 - 08:53 PM.


#215 K8memphis

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 08:49 PM

Actually plain shortening has no taste. It has other properties but the taste is flat which is why it's useful in some applications.

#216 beccaboo

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 09:30 PM

Actually plain shortening has no taste. It has other properties but the taste is flat which is why it's useful in some applications.

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It does have taste--I've been using health-food, non-hydrogenated shortening for the last few years, and I've gotten so I can taste (and dislike the taste of) regular Crisco in things. I got some of the non-hydrogenated Crisco, thinking it would save money on my Xmas baking, and it tasted just like regular! I gave it to a friend who actually likes Crisco flavor.

#217 K8memphis

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 10:15 PM

"The primary reason you make cookies at home instead of picking one of the hundreds of packages off the shelf at the grocery store is that you can make a cookie that tastes a lot better than store-bought. From the perspective of taste — in our opinion — butter wins, hands down. Vegetable shortening adds nothing to the flavor of a cookie, but virtually all store-bought cookies are made with it. Some people prefer the taste of margarine, however, and this is a democracy, after all. "


from Ochef

#218 Darcie B

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 07:56 AM

Fear is a good word for it too. I've worked for people that hide cake mix for fear a customer will see it and...and then what?

Good points. But I bet there was triggering incident somewhere. Or cake mix became the poster boy for lazy housewifing or something like that. Umm, Mrs. O'Learys cow kicked open a box and the whole thing caught on fire. Something happened.

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If there was a Mrs. O'Leary's cow, I think it started with oleo in WWII and worked up towards ever more processed foods. There were processed/shortcut foods before WWII, but with the rationing and substitutions of ingredients (esp. butter), I think it was the biggest catalyst. Also, the boys coming back from the war had a 'taste' for the rations and whatnot, and it was also a big consumerism thing to buy stuff like that because, well, finally you could buy stuff. Then it just snowballed from there.
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#219 K8memphis

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 08:17 AM

It has snowballed. Good point.

Umm, I have some advice for scratch cake bakers of celebration cake. It's purely cafeteria style, take it or leave it. No worries. But consider using one cup of a good mix for one cup of flour or whatever ratio to get a bit of those particular finely honed chemicals into your brew so that scratch cakes can increase the hover quality needed to improve texture and fluff and most importantly that holding quality necessary to have several days in which to birth the baby.

Scratch cakes take a beating at weddings. If they are not dense or rubbery or egg whitey they are invariably dry. Simple syrup does not mask dry scratch cake. Good scratch cake needs to just about be baked the day before because the cat is out of the bag. There may yet be debate about fluffy texture preferences but nobody likes dry.

Not all of them, but way too many.

Edited by K8memphis, 31 January 2007 - 08:18 AM.


#220 beccaboo

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 08:24 AM

"The primary reason you make cookies at home instead of picking one of the hundreds of packages off the shelf at the grocery store is that you can make a cookie that tastes a lot better than store-bought. From the perspective of taste — in our opinion — butter wins, hands down. Vegetable shortening adds nothing to the flavor of a cookie, but virtually all store-bought cookies are made with it. Some people prefer the taste of margarine, however, and this is a democracy, after all. "

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I think that's saying that shortening makes no positive flavor contribution (like butter and even margarine do), not that it has no taste at all. I can taste it, and I don't think I have a peculiar sensitivity.

Edited by beccaboo, 31 January 2007 - 08:25 AM.


#221 K8memphis

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 08:47 AM

"The primary reason you make cookies at home instead of picking one of the hundreds of packages off the shelf at the grocery store is that you can make a cookie that tastes a lot better than store-bought. From the perspective of taste — in our opinion — butter wins, hands down. Vegetable shortening adds nothing to the flavor of a cookie, but virtually all store-bought cookies are made with it. Some people prefer the taste of margarine, however, and this is a democracy, after all. "

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I think that's saying that shortening makes no positive flavor contribution (like butter and even margarine do), not that it has no taste at all. I can taste it, and I don't think I have a peculiar sensitivity.

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I understand what you're saying. But that's what I meant. It's flat, not flavorful, doesn't add to anything. And you're saying it subtracts, yes I get your point.

#222 CaliPoutine

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 08:55 AM

Ok, back to cake mix.

I was watching Martha this morning and she featured a recipe Mrs. Milman's frosting. 24oz choc. chips, 4 cups cream, 1tsp light corn syrup. Supposedly the best choc. frosting Martha ever tasted, blah, blah, blah.

But, Mrs. Milman herself was on TV and she said " I only use cake mix". LOLOLOLOL

As an aside, Martha continually refered to the cocoa she was using as unsweetened, isnt all cocoa unsweetened?

the devils food cake Martha made looked pretty good.

#223 Lindacakes

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 11:35 AM

Who the hell is Mrs. Milman?
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#224 Darcie B

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 01:01 PM

Scratch cakes take a beating at weddings. If they are not dense or rubbery or egg whitey they are invariably dry. Simple syrup does not mask dry scratch cake. Good scratch cake needs to just about be baked the day before because the cat is out of the bag. There may yet be debate about fluffy texture preferences but nobody likes dry.

Not all of them, but way too many.

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I find my cakes don't get dry when I substitute oil for some of the butter in scratch cake recipes. I made a white cake and left out some scraps, uncovered, overnight and the next morning ate some. The scraps were still moist, except for the very edges.

I can't stand dry cake either. Blech. It has taken some time for me to come up with recipes for scratch cakes that have a desirable texture in tiered applications. I'm not sure many other people would go through such measures when they can have the ease and consistency of a mix. I just don't like the taste of most mixes so I went out of my way to find (invent) scratch recipes that work. And of course I could just be deluding myself that these cakes aren't dry and tasteless, but I like to think they are good :blink: .
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#225 JeanneCake

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 01:50 PM

Ok, back to cake mix.

I was watching Martha this morning and she featured a recipe Mrs. Milman's frosting.  24oz choc. chips, 4 cups cream, 1tsp light corn syrup.  Supposedly the best choc. frosting Martha ever tasted, blah, blah, blah.

But, Mrs. Milman herself was on TV and she said " I only use cake mix".  LOLOLOLOL

As an aside, Martha continually refered to the cocoa she was using as unsweetened, isnt all cocoa unsweetened?

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the frosting sounds like a take on ganache so even with choc chips, it was probably good. enough.

Ghiradelli has a sweetened chocolate that is boxed similarly to cocoa but the box is clearly labelled "sweetened chocolate" as opposed to cocoa. I didn't see the show but maybe the cake mix quip rattled things so she kept saying unsweetened when she meant to say dutched?! :wink:

#226 K8memphis

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 04:35 PM

Ok, back to cake mix.

I was watching Martha this morning and she featured a recipe Mrs. Milman's frosting.  24oz choc. chips, 4 cups cream, 1tsp light corn syrup.  Supposedly the best choc. frosting Martha ever tasted, blah, blah, blah.

But, Mrs. Milman herself was on TV and she said " I only use cake mix".  LOLOLOLOL...

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:laugh: :laugh:

#227 K8memphis

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 05:22 PM


Scratch cakes take a beating at weddings. If they are not dense or rubbery or egg whitey they are invariably dry. Simple syrup does not mask dry scratch cake. Good scratch cake needs to just about be baked the day before because the cat is out of the bag. There may yet be debate about fluffy texture preferences but nobody likes dry.

Not all of them, but way too many.

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I find my cakes don't get dry when I substitute oil for some of the butter in scratch cake recipes. I made a white cake and left out some scraps, uncovered, overnight and the next morning ate some. The scraps were still moist, except for the very edges.

I can't stand dry cake either. Blech. It has taken some time for me to come up with recipes for scratch cakes that have a desirable texture in tiered applications. I'm not sure many other people would go through such measures when they can have the ease and consistency of a mix. I just don't like the taste of most mixes so I went out of my way to find (invent) scratch recipes that work. And of course I could just be deluding myself that these cakes aren't dry and tasteless, but I like to think they are good :blink: .

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I've tested and tested and tested too. I have some really nice scratch recipes. I would only use them if I baked the day before the event though. I mean I just can't push a deadline like that and stay sane. I've decorated by the light of the silvery moon when the power has gone out. We do have a generator for emergencies. It doesn't happen often of course, but it does happen. For me, it would be irresponsible to wait till the last minute to bake. Making a wedding cake is too intense an endeavor to not make the best choices for yourself and your client.

I've tried so many variations. The only problem I have with using butter in the cake is it binds so tight after the cake is refrigerated, the texture doesn't relax back out and it stiffens the texture. I mean delivering a cake that has not been fully chilled is risking it big time in hot weather or bumpy roads or if there's another car on the road.

Now if everybody ordered pound cake and staggered their weddings out over the week instead of all on the weekends that would sure be helpful.

I tried all oil --yech --part butter still changes the texture in the frige. Doctored cake mix avoids all these issues, every time. :wub: Sure I can bake from scratch but scratch cake is not even close to my best choice for celebration cake (sculpted or tiered). Now for double the price I can bake it the day before :biggrin: But that's only fair, it ginormously jacks up the stakes. Talk about a pressure pit. And the decor has to be tame enough or able to be mostly done in advance.

So in my opinion if scratch cake is baked more than a day or two at the most away from the date it's no wonder that by serving time it's past it's prime.

I was going to do a groom's cake once with someone else once for a Saturday wedding. She said, let's get together Thursday afternoon before the wedding to plan. Ahhh, oh man, too bad, something's come up and I won't be able to help. So sorry. No wonder her husband won't let her do cakes anymore.

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#228 ludja

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 05:30 PM

...

I've tried so many variations. The only problem I have with using butter in the cake is it binds so tight after the cake is refrigerated, the texture doesn't relax back out and it stiffens the texture. I mean delivering a cake that has not been fully chilled is risking it big time in hot weather or bumpy roads or if there's another car on the road.

Now if everybody ordered pound cake and staggered their weddings out over the week instead of all on the weekends that would sure be helpful.

I tried all oil --yech --part butter still changes the texture in the frige. Doctored cake mix avoids all these issues, every time.  :wub:
...

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What fat do you typically use that works well with the doctored mixes? (I may be misunderstanding, but you mentioned the issues with all oil and part butter...)

And thank you for sharing some of your experiences in making and decorating celebration cakes in advance.
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#229 K8memphis

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 05:46 PM

Ludja, I was not very clear. I meant when I test scratch cakes and used all oil--not the best of results. When I use mixes, I use oil because the mix has all that stuff in it already. In that demo I made about my daughter's wedding cake I put in the formula I use for doctored mix. It's a popular recipe that floats on the internet. My variation uses self rising flour. I'll go find it and post it here.

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#230 K8memphis

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 05:55 PM

Wedding Cake Base

Duncan Hines white cake mix
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup super-fine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract,
1 tsp of almond extract
1 cup of sour cream
3 egg whites
1 egg
a little salt
2T oil
1 1/3 c. water

Whisk the powders together, mix in the the other stuff.
Beat for two minutes bake as usual.

#231 CaliPoutine

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 10:26 AM

*bump*

I picked this up back in August because I was really curious about it. I mean, come on, who would pay 18.00 for a cake mix? 3.99 sounds more reasonable. These mixes are manufactured by Nordicware and are advertised as "all natural".
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I picked up two more of these mixes at Marshall's last week. Both were on clearance for 3 bucks. One is the infamous tunnel of fudge and a cinnamon swirl. I planned to make one of those last night but then I saw that this butterscotch mix had a use by date of Jan 07, I thought I better make this one instead.

This is the first mix I've ever seen that has a two step recipe, cream butter with a sugar packet, add dry packet alternately with milk. The streusel is mixed with 4tbl of butter and placed in the middle.

I'm please to say this did NOT taste like a mix. NO chemical taste whatsoever. I wont buy them again because for the amount of butter( 12tbls in cake, 4 in struesel) and eggs( 4), I could make a from scratch cake with just a tad more effort. ( measuring the flour, sugar, and levener).

I skipped the optional glaze( more butter, brown sugar, rum) and instead just dusted with confectioners sugar.

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