Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
pam claughton

Do you use Boxed Cake Mixes?

Recommended Posts

Scratch!! :biggrin: When I first encountered my love for baking, I used to use box mixes. Back then, there was no cake mix doctor. I remember making a banana bread....from scratch. It came out greatl and gave me the boost and confidence to try other scratch recipes. It wasnt easy. I cannot blame my failure soley on the recipes. Alot of them were messed up b/c I didnt know what I was doing!! :biggrin: Early on, I really didnt know what I was doing. As I learned more, it became easier.

I would often bake cakes (from a mix) and take them to functions. People would rave and say how great they were. Then, the compliments were always followed by "Did you bake that from scratch?" Well, I didnt know what to say. :shock: I didnt want to lie, knowing that I didnt deserve the credit -- Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines did. :blink: That was the final push that I needed!

Now, when someone says, "oh, that is good. Did you bake that from scratch?" I can proudly say yes! Some people cannot tell the difference between scratch and mix. And I know some people who prefer a mix cake. However, I personally prefer the taste of a good scratch cake. Oh, and as far as cost, cake mixes are expensive in my area.

Personally, I enjoy baking. I enjoy the challenges that comes with it. I love cake decorating, too. But, I am a baker first.


Edited by BROWNSUGA (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've written this before, but I'll add it again. I do use some cake mixes......for various reasons. Only white cake and yellow cake................I've yet to find perfect recipes for those two flavors that people like better then what I can get out of a mix. I only use those on wedding cakes, I make everything else from scratch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've written this before, but I'll add it again. I do use some cake mixes......for various reasons. Only white cake and yellow cake................I've yet to find perfect recipes for those two flavors that people like better then what I can get out of a mix. I only use those on wedding cakes, I make everything else from scratch.

I can understand that. Yellow and white have been a challenge in finding the "perfect recipe". I have read the thread on the "best white". How did the "best white" compare to the mixes that you use?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are some family recipies handed down from my grandmother who only used mix cakes that I would not attempt to duplicate from scratch. They are all made in a bundt pan and use apricot nectar, pudding, etc.

I made a rum cake this Christmas several times. Recipe was printed both ways...from scratch or using a mix and pudding mix. Without exception everyone prefered the "scratch" cake. The consistancy and taste were superior.

Next year I'll stick with the "scratch" version and just experiment with flavored rums.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is a myth, perpetuated by many including Alton Brown and armies of cake decorators, that mixes yield better cakes than from scratch.

Bullshit.

Just keep trying. Egg foams are not easy to pick up and occasionally you are going to have a dud, but keep at it.

Cake from a mix is better than my genoise?

Hell no!

Are you fucken kidding me?

I'd like to hear more about this. Does anyone know exactly what chemicals do exactly what to cakes that makes AB say that boxed is superior?

Is your objection to boxed mixes because they use inferior ingredients or because of the chemicals inside them or because from scratch is just inherently superior?

If KatieM put her home-made mixes in a box and sold them, would they still be inherently worse than from scratch? What if we got KatieM's mix and doctored it up with all those chemicals that AB claims makes cakes better?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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. 

I did. 

And she LOVED it.  Her guests LOVED it.

That reminds me of a friend of mine who was having a big fancy wedding in Cincinnati (country club, the works), but she wanted her wedding cake to come from Kroeger's, because all her birthday cakes growing up were bought at Kroeger's. It was a sentimental thing.

Actually, it was a pretty cake (especially when considering the source), and it tasted like birthday cake and we had vanilla ice cream.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I make the majority of my cakes from scratch. But, recently I have tried 2-3 doctored cake mix recipes- one is a Strawberry cake and they are good. I'll use a cake mix for cupcakes unless I want chocolate cupcakes- then I just use my regular scratch chocolate cake recipe because it is soo easy and soo good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Karaoke of Pastry.........too funny!

I agree though.

You can taste a box from a mile way. Chocolate is hard to detect, but White/Yellow you can.

I'm all for scratch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe the answer really lies in whether or not you are a cake person or a frosting person. :hmmm: For instance, if a mediocre (not, bad -- but not great) cake has a spectacular frosting, then I'm likely to forget how mediocre the cake part was. Given that, I'm not as picky about whether a cake is scratch or box as some others might be. You'll never catch me scraping the frosting of a piece of cake or leaving it behind -- unless it was really nasty frosting. However, I could see myself eating the frosting off and leaving the cake behind.

I wish we could all get together for a big cake taste-off and see how many of use really could taste the box taste :biggrin:.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a cake mix if I need two dozen cupcakes for a preschool class, tomorrow. For family I make cakes from scratch. The texture of my homemade cakes is rarely as reliable as the box.

Even with a cake mix I always make my own frosting, because buttercream is easy and canned frosting tastes like shortening.


Edited by hjshorter (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scratch, definitely, with one exception, and even then, one of these days, I will develop a more grown up version of the lemon jello cake my mom always made for me for my birthday that doesn't involve a box of lemon jello and a lemon cake mix.

I stopped making box cakes probably by the time I was 8 or so and ran out of the mixes from my Easy Bake Oven (their cakes were too small anyway). I loved poring through my mom's cookbooks for cake recipes (chocolate was a favorite). I did have a taste for the canned frosting, though, because I didn't like the extra work of melting squares of chocolate for the traditional American powdered sugar-based "buttercream."

I like cakes like genoise because you can control how sweet you make them by how much syrup (and how strong it is) you add. That and the versatility. Take a plain genoise, and you can transform it any number of ways depending on how you flavor the syrup and what you fill the cake with. Try that with a box mix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

99% of the time I make cakes from scratch.

However I do keep a couple of boxes of pound cake mix on hand for baking something quick that is going to be used under fruit or custard or whatever, where the flavor of the cake is not so important as the stuff that will be soaking into it.

I use it for an applesauce/applebutter stack cake using very thin layers.

The point is that the flavor of the cake is completely overpowerd by the flavor of the "filling" so the pound cake mix is just fine and saves a considerable amount of time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would often bake cakes (from a mix)  and take them to functions.  People would rave and say how great they were.  Then, the compliments were always followed by "Did you bake that from scratch?"    Well, I didnt know what to say. :shock: I didnt want to lie, knowing that I didnt deserve the credit -- Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines did.  :blink: 

Actually, nowadays in the era of Semi-Homemade cuisine, many people consider boxed mixes to be made "from scratch." :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scratch. I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, and it takes close to the same amount of time to get out the ingredients and mix them as it does to do the same with a package. I will add that I would much rather have cake made from a mix than canned frosting on anything, from scratch or not. That stuff is truly vile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use cake mix all the time especially the lemon .....to make cookies from the Cake DR with poppy seeds I scam from the supermarket bakery.....

open stir plop bake ...lemon poppy cookies in 12.5 min :raz:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only use scratch, I learned to bake from my granmother in England, I had never seen or used a box mix till I came to the states for the first time in the early eighties. Went through a period of using them for my job. I used to be a chef on private yachts and untill I started working on large power boats with "kitchens" not galleys there was no stand mixers therefore no scratch cakes.

That said I went out for dessart the other night to a coffee shop where people love the cake, my companions all raved about the choclate cake, it and the frosting both came from box and can, didnt do anything for me.

I just think that boxes are an aquired taste and to many people cake is the flavour of a boxed mix, its what you get from supermarket bakerys, and many small bakeries as well. (I wish criollo was located near me ) :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wow. i haven't realized this until now, but for years i've been avoiding eating box mix cakes.

in the back of my mind i would be wondering why i didn't like the fanciful creations made by local bakeries, why the birthday cakes catered at the office had no appeal, why someone bringing in cake or cupcakes or whatever didn't tempt me at all.

someone upthread mentioned the cloying taste of box mixes, and frequently the too-sweet taste. +never+ in my mind had i even thought about whether any of these cakes were from mixes or from scratch...i just know that they gave me no gustatory pleasure -- and that's saying a lot, since i really like baked goods.

when i was very young i baked from mixes all the time. then at some point, i discovered a chocolate cake recipie from "the joy of cooking" and without even realizing it, i was at a fork in the road (no pun intended). i haven't made a mix cake for years and years, but i don't even think about it. i have no from-scratch-snobbery. i just stopped making mix cakes because on a basic (and unconcious level) i thought they didn't taste good anymore (or, to flip this ironically...i didn't think +mixes+ were worth the effort anymore).

and i'm not going to say that i can tell a cake mix just by tasting it. i don't know if i can. just looking back at what i've been avoiding all these years...i think they've been mixes. (btw, mark me as one of those folks who does not care for buttercream icing; in general, i find most icings far too sweet.)

this thread has been un petite revelation.

cheers :)

hc


Edited by halloweencat (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never used a boxed cake mix, ever, except for the one for No Pudge Brownies (which I like, cos I can make one, single brownie if I have a craving).

I don't like boxed mixes. That weird sweet taste, the funny kind of noncrumb dissolve-in-the-mouth quality -- bleeeyuch. I tend to like a heartier, European kind of cake, and actually really enjoy my own foolings around with whole-grain cake baking.

And I loathe that horrid "buttercream" made of white shortening and sugar more than I can even describe. I do not get the appeal of that stuff, at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From scratch for me. I grew up on mixes and thought that making a cake from scratch was "too hard." Then my college roommate whipped up a sheet cake in the same time that it would take me to use a mix so I asked me to teach me and I've been doing it from scratch ever since. Plus, most mixes use partially-hydrogenated _______, something I work very hard to avoid; give me butter or give me death!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I grew up on home made cakes, and lots of them were European in style--denser, finer crumb, ground nuts, etc. I've never really liked the taste or texture of cakes mixes; people have described the difference pretty well above. (and forget canned frostings). So it's not been something I've done. (I do think that people's taste can be affected if that's what they grew up with--i.e. to like the texture and certain *other* taste of cake mixes better).

I tend to make cakes with butter; not oil, so I'm not sure if some of what I associate with cakes mixes is the texture/flavor of using oil.

When and if I have kids maybe I could see it if as someone mentioned above I needed to whip up some cupcakes at the last minute, but probably I'd find a reliable recipe and perhaps even make up my own dry "mix" at home to have at hand. (I've done that with cornbread and it has worked out really well).

My mom did have one "doctored" cake mix recipe that she made alot and that I have continued to make--it was called "whiskey cake". Uses a plain yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding, whiskey, walnuts and butterscotch chips. It uses butter rather than oil. (It's a great long-lasting coffee cake, sturdy enough to bring along for a week at a cottage or the beach).


Edited by ludja (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When and if I have kids maybe I could see it if as someone mentioned above I needed to whip up some cupcakes at the last minute, but probably I'd find a reliable recipe and perhaps even make up my own dry "mix" at home to have at hand.  (I've done that with cornbread and it has worked out really well).

I have a basic cookie mix I make up in 10 quart batches, however it has to be kept refrigerated.

It does make it easier to scoop out the number of cups I require and add the "wet" ingredients.

I can put together a batch of cookie dough in a tenth of the time and can have them baking in the time that usually would be spent just gathering the ingredients.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cakes from scratch are all I make. I like watching people eat it when I take one someplace. They know it is different, and some are not sure if it is better or worse. My scratch layer cakes are lighter and have a more open crumb than box mixes. I think beating the egg whites and folding them into batter at the last makes a differnce, though I have read cake books that claim no benefit is derived by this method

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cakes from scratch are all I make.  I like watching people eat it when I take one someplace.  They know it is different, and some are not sure if it is better or worse.  My scratch layer cakes are lighter and have a more open crumb than box mixes.  I think beating the egg whites and folding them into batter at the last makes a differnce, though I have read cake books that claim no benefit is derived by this method

Guess it depends on what recipe, right? I have a scratch recipe that involves folding in beaten egg whites, and it's definitely one of my best scratch white cakes. I'm surprised a cake book would say it "makes no difference" whether you fold in whites, because adding egg whites to a batter (you'd think, right?) would make a cake lighter and airier. My best scratch cake recipes involve 3 things.

1) bringing all ingredients to room temperature (something I must plan ahead of time)

2) sifting, sifting sifting (something messy, which I don't enjoy, which leads to more cleaning)

3) and using beaten egg whites, which leads to more appliances and more cleaning

Doing those 3 steps gets me the results I'm looking for, but including those 3 things is NOT *as* or even close to as convenient as dumping a box of cake mix in a bowl and beating it up with oil, eggs and water.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I tend to make cakes with butter; not oil, so I'm not sure if some of what I associate with cakes mixes is the texture/flavor of using oil.

There are several cake mixes now that call for butter instead of oil.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't bake a lot of cakes but when I do it's from scratch. I love the experience of making from scratch and I know what's in it. I'd lose out on the experience of it if I used a mix. The only exception is angel food cake. I can't be bothered breaking all those eggs and then trying to figure out what to do with all the left over yolks, so I use a box. (Not that I do that very often since I can only find angel food cake mix in the US and don't get back that often.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Kasia
      BANOFFE - MY DAUGHTER'S BIRTHDAY CAKE
       
      This year, mischievous nature tried to upset my daughter's birthday plans. Spending your birthday in bed with a thermometer isn't an excellent idea ¬– even for an adult. For a teenager it is a drama comparable to cancelled holidays. My daughter told me that you are thirteen only once. And she was right. Literally and figuratively.

      I wanted to sugar the pill for her on this day and cheer her up for a bit, so I prepared a caramel cake with bananas – banoffee in the form of a small birthday cake. My sweet magic and the dinner from her favourite restaurant worked, and in the end her birthday was quite nice.

      Ingredients (17cm cake tin):
      150g of biscuits
      75g of butter
      200ml of 30% sweet cream
      250g of mascarpone cheese
      2 tablespoons of caster sugar
      2 bananas
      300g of fudge
      1 teaspoon of dark cocoa

      Break the biscuits into very small pieces or blend them. Melt the butter and mix it up with the biscuits until you have dough like wet sand. Put it into a cake tin and form the base. It is worth rolling it flat with a glass. Leave it in the fridge for one hour. Spread the biscuit layer with fudge and arrange the sliced bananas on top. Whisk the chilled sweet cream with the caster sugar. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix it in. Put the mixture onto the bananas and make it even. Sprinkle with the dark cocoa and decorate as you like. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours (best for the whole night).

      Enjoy your meal!

    • By Kasia
      ON THE CHRISTMAS TABLE - CHRISTMAS EVE CRANBERRY KISSEL
       
      One of my friends from Ukraine told me about her traditional Christmas dishes. Except for stuffed cabbage with potatoes (which I have made already) I was surprised about cranberry kissel. I searched the Internet and I saw that in many Polish homes Christmas Eve supper ends with cranberry kissel. In my home we always drink compote with dried fruit, but maybe this year we will try a new dish on our Christmas menu.

      I wonder why cranberries are on the Christmas table. I didn't find any particular information about it (except the fact it is tradition). I think that a few years ago cranberries were treated as a natural cure which aids digestion, and this could be quite useful after a hefty Christmas meal!

      At my Ukrainian friends' home Christmas kissel is runny like a drink, but you can prepare it like a dessert with a more dense texture. I made the drink version, but you should choose which is better for you.

      Ingredients:
      500g of cranberries
      a piece of cinnamon and a couple of cloves
      6-8 tablespoons of sugar
      2-3 tablespoons of potato flour

      Wash the cranberries and put them with the cinnamon and cloves in a pan. Pour in 500ml of water and boil until the fruit is soft. Remove the cinnamon and cloves and blend the rest. Add the sugar and mix it until it has dissolved. Sieve the cranberry mousse to make a smooth texture. Mix the potato flour with a bit of cold water. Boil the cranberry mousse and add the mixed potato flour, stirring constantly so it is not lumpy. Boil for a while. Pour the kissel into some glasses.

      Enjoy your meal!

    • By Kasia
      COURGETTE MUFFINS WITH LEMON
       
      Since I found the recipe for courgette muffins with lemon on the Polish blog gotujzcukiereczkiem I decided to prepare them. My children looked at the ingredients with surprise. Courgette and cakes don't go together well. The argument that they add caster sugar to the courgette pancakes didn't convince them. The muffins reminded my husband of the lemon cake his grandma used to prepare many years ago. I just liked them. They were short lived, because they disappeared in no time, slightly lemony, moist and not too sweet. They were perfect.

      If I didn't know they had courgette in them, I would never believe it. Try it, because it is worth it.

      Ingredients (for 12 muffins)
      muffins
      200g of flour
      a pinch of salt
      half a teaspoon of baking soda
      half a teaspoon of baking powder
      150g of sugar
      peel from one lemon
      a tablespoon of lemon juice
      2 eggs
      150ml of oil
      a teaspoon of vanilla essence
      a teaspoon of lemon essence
      210g of grated courgette
      icing:
      3 tablespoons of milk
      10 tablespoons of caster sugar
      1 teaspoon of lemon essence

      Heat the oven up to 170C. Put some paper muffin moulds into the "dimples" of a baking pan for muffins.
      Mix together the dry ingredients of the muffins: flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix together the sugar and lemon peel in a separate bowl. Add the eggs, oil, lemon juice and both essences. Mix them in. Add the dry ingredients and mix them in. Grate the unpeeled courgette, don't squeeze and don't pour away the liquid. Add the courgette to the dough and mix it in. Put the dough into some paper muffin moulds. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Now prepare the icing. Mix the milk with the caster sugar and lemon essence. Decorate the muffins with the lemon icing.

      Enjoy your meal!


    • By Kasia
      MILLET GROATS CHOCOLATE CREME WITH CRANBERRY MOUSSE
       
      Today I would like to share with you the recipe for the best chocolate crème I have ever eaten. It is thick, smooth and very chocolaty in flavour and colour. Despite the chocolate, the dessert isn't too sweet. But if somebody thinks that it is, I recommend serving it with slightly sour fruit mousse. You can use cherries, currants or cranberries. You will make an unusually yummy arrangement and your dessert will look beautiful.

      My children were delighted with this dessert. I told them about the fact it had been made with millet groats after they had eaten it, and ... they didn't believe me. Next time I will prepare the millet groats crème with a double portion of ingredients.

      Ingredients (for 4 people)
      chocolate crème
      100g of millet groats
      200g of dark chocolate
      1 tablespoon of dark cocoa
      250ml of almond milk
      fruit mousse
      250g of fresh cranberries
      juice and peel of one orange
      half a teaspoon of grated ginger
      4 tablespoons of brown sugar

      Boil the millet groats in salty water and drain them. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Blend the millet groats, chocolate, cocoa and milk very thoroughly until you have very smooth crème. Pour the milk in gradually to make the right consistency of your desert. Prepare the fruit mousse. Put the washed cranberries, ginger, juice orange peel and sugar into a pot. Boil until the fruits are soft. Blend. Put the chocolate crème into some small bowls. Put the fruit mousse on top. Decorate with peppermint leaves. Serve at once or chilled.

      Enjoy your meal!


    • By Kasia
      SWIFT HOMEMADE NAPOLEON
       
      Sometimes we have days – may there be as few as possible – when nothing works out. I can even burn the water for tea. I have two ways of dealing with such days. The first is to sit in a corner and wait it out – maybe it will sort itself out. I can only do this when I'm alone. When I have a hungry family I have to look for another way. My second way is to use only well-known recipes and stick to them irregardless of how well I know them. Any experiments in this situation will end in failure.

      Last weekend was just difficult. My husband helped me prepare dinner, but the dessert was my problem alone. Following the rules, I used a recipe for napoleon that is so simple there is no way you could fail. I recommend it to anyone struggling with creative impotence or who likes glamourous results after not too much effort in the kitchen.
       
      Ingredients (for 9 napoleons)
      1 pack of chilled French pastry
      500ml of milk
      6 tablespoons of sugar
      1 packet of powdered blancmange
      50g of butter
      2 egg yolks
      1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
      1 tablespoons of potato flour
      2 tablespoons of flour
      caster sugar

      Heat the oven up to 180C. Cover a baking tray with some baking paper.
      Cut the French pastry in half. Bake one half for 20 minutes. Remove it from the tray. Cut the second part into 9 squares. A cake prepared in this way is easier to divide into portions. Put them on the paper and bake for 20 minutes.
      Now prepare the crème. Boil 400ml of the milk with the sugar, vanilla essence and butter. Mix the rest of the milk with the powdered blancmange, flour and potato flour and egg yolks. When the milk has boiled, take it off the heat and add it to the mixture, stirring constantly. Put it on the heat and boil, stirring until the mixture is coagulated. Take the pot off the heat. Put the warm mixture on the whole part of the French pasty and then cover it with the sliced part of the pastry. Cover the dessert with aluminium foil and leave in the fridge for a few hours. Cut and sprinkle with the caster sugar before serving.
       
       

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×