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Do you use Boxed Cake Mixes?


pam claughton
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wendy,

i'm glad to hear your feelings about this particular topic! i've had alot of people ask me if my cakes are from scratch or mix, when they are made from a mix, i get the feeling they are no longer "impressed". i hate when people ask me because i would never lie, but it makes me feel like i "cheated". i actually used the recipe you posted for my 3-D cakes because i like the texture, very nice for carving. do you mind telling me what you don't like about the recipe i posted? does it "taste" like a mix to you or is something about the texture/ crumb? i would love to hear your opinion. i made 2 cakes, one white and the other with the butter mix. i always used DH because i can never get the other brands to behave!

as far as chocolate cakes go, i rarely used the mixes because i've had such good luck with scratch. actually, i must say thank you because my favorite all time no-fail chocolate cake now is the one you posted by scott wooley, i wanted so badly to make it yesterday as a matter of fact, but find i cannot stop after one piece! not a good thing when you are 7 months pregnant with high blood sugars! :raz:

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I guess I'm lucky because no one asks me if my cakes are scratch or mixes.........so I don't have that problem. I think the best way to handle it is to side step the issue. I think it's sort of rude for someone to ask if it's a mix or scratch.........are they judging your ability to bake or are they looking to see if you'll give them the recipe.

If they are judging you, ignore them (they must be mean spirited). If their looking for a recipe they can reproduce it's up to you if you want to share.

Why I'm not crazy about the first version of a doctored mix you mentioned: I can bake a great scratch cake that's dense and easy to cut for shaped cakes. Most butter cakes and pound cakes work well for that purpose. That doctored version is very heavy and just not my ideal cake for that purpose. When I'm using a white or yellow cake mix I'm using them because I can't achieve the lightness and moisture balance the mix has, that I can't find in a scratch cake.

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Well, I wrote the following then decided to put it in the circular file. But since Wendy suggests the same thing -- here are some 'how to's'...

... i've had alot of people ask me if my cakes are from scratch or mix, when they are made from a mix, i get the feeling they are no longer "impressed".   i hate when people ask me because i would never lie, but it makes me feel like i "cheated".  

You don't have to lie but you don't have to tell either.

Like,

"Oh you know better than to ask that!"

"Well, what do you think?'

"What a controversial subject, which one does your wife/Mom bake?"

"Which do you prefer?"

"Hey, y'know, just like Mom's"

"Can't you tell?" (which one)

"It's an old family secret."

of course there's always

"I could tell yah but then I'd have to shoot yah." When really they qualify for execution just by ASKING!!!

With the climate of baking such as it is with all the things that have already been discussed in this thread--it's tantamount to asking, 'boxers or briefs'--it just should not be asked. If you encounter a cad who asks, they are just making conversation, blow them off--pick a line from above and smile, laugh, talk about it without answering, blow them off, change the subject.

If it's a client, say, Oh you've had my cake before at such & such an event. Or, here's a sample...stuff like that.

There's no good answer to that question.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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I'm predominantly a scratch baker - due mainly to the fact that I love to bake, and so really enjoy the process of all that measuring, sifting, mixing, folding, etc. It relaxes me, so I do it :smile: And, I admit that I generally prefer both the texture and taste of a good old fashioned scratch cake - interestingly enough, that is what I grew up with! I do believe it's all about what you're used to - so many people who grew up on straight mix cakes (ie: no doctoring) find the texture of full scratch cakes to be heavier, drier.

I think people are asking you because,

a) people are just nosey sometimes :raz:

b) they're confused! Your cake doesn't taste like the cake they make from the box (with all those added ingredients, why would it?)....yet it's lighter and has a softer crumb than most scratch cakes they've tasted. How do you DO it??? :smile: (Hence, my opinion that they might be subversively digging for the recipe, as Wendy suggests!)

Also - if you're selling cakes, I think people sometimes ask because they believe that your prices should be less if you're using a mix. Never mind all those eggs you add, or the butter and sour cream you doctor it with, the costs of your equipment, or powering an oven for an hour, or those endless hours spent decorating it beautifully.........Betty Crocker was on sale this week for .69 a box, so you should be selling that cake for lots less than the bakery down the road! :hmmm:

I wouldn't feel guilty at all - and I wouldn't hesitate to call the doctored cake you're making "scratch", at least as far as a customer is concerned - customers don't appreciate the difference between a straight up cake mix, and a doctored one, and I don't think that's fair on you. You're adding a heck of a lot of stuff to some pre-measured dry ingredients, and that makes it a heck of a lot more than a standard mix, IMO.

The point about "when is scratch truly scratch" is a good one, too - the fact is that we all use convenience products where we seek convenience. If I use pre-made tart shells for my (from scratch) frangipane and cherry tartlets, can I really consider my tarts as made from scratch? To that end, I've never even been in a bakery that didn't sell tartlets in those well-known little foil cups, with their perfectly crimped little edges! Know what, though? Many of those tarts have been darn tasty! :wink:

Jeni

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with all the added ingredients, it sounds more like "scratch" to me!

i recently made two wedding cakes (for my own wedding!) from "scratch"...but to be honest, they tasted like "mix" cakes to me.  not in the the wierd chemically way, but in the pleasant bring back the memories kind of way.

i guess what i'm trying to say is that if you feel the recipe tastes good, then go ahead and do it.  that's ultimately what it comes down to, right?

Is there any way we can get your recipe for a "Scratch" cake that tastes like a mix? Does it have the texture of a mix? It's funny that we're even trying to make a scratch cake taste like a mix, isn't it? :huh:

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kate, i really like "can't you tell?" the best! i'm gonna have to used that! also, jeni really hit it on the head, i think customers think that if my cakes come from a mix, then they should be cheaper. but the recipe i posted is definitley not cheap! that particular recipe cost more then my scratch cakes.

i really appreciate all the feedback , thanks everyone! :biggrin:

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where I made ALL of the bleedin' phyllo from scratch, and since I couldn't find shelled pistachios at that time, I shelled the suckers by hand (blisters for weeks)

Theabroma

whoa! RESPECT.

You are kind. But what I really deserve is the Bronze Nutshell for Stupidity!!!

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Several years ago, when I ordered my wedding cake, I sat down and talked with the baker/chef at length. I wanted a "scratch" cake; one that had good, pure flavor. And I wanted buttercream icing made with butter, and not with shortening. Again, a flavor issue.

What I wanted to get away from, was artificial flavorings. I had strawberry filling between two layers, and lemon curd between the next two layers. I requested that these be made from scratch, again, as a flavor issue and also as a texture issue. The goo that many cake bakers put between layers around here is just objectionable. It's mainly sweet; sometimes you can also identify a flavor. But mainly, it's just sweet.

I got what I wanted, and both the baker and I were happy. She'd had few requests for this kind of baking, and she was happy to do it. The cake was spectacular in flavor and texture. Our guests loved it. And the neighbors to whom we gave slices, said it was the best cake they'd ever eaten. I was a happy bride. If people were going to get out on a sloshy weekend to come to my wedding, I wanted to treat them as well as I could. Some of them spent a lot of money to get here; others left professional activities and drove across three states to make it. Making the effort to give them really good cake (worth the calories!) was just one of the ways I could thank them.

If the woman doing the baking used any kind of mix, it certainly didn't show, and I wouldn't have objected.

A few weeks ago, my husband came home with a cookie mix he bought from a guy at work, who was selling it on behalf of his child's school. I couldn't believe he'd bring something like that home when I try so hard to make delicious things. I scanned the container to see just how disgusting it was going to be. To my complete surprise, the ingredient list included no artificial flavorings, colorings, or preservatives of any kind. My husband did the baking, so I don't know what was added to create the dough, but the cookies were delicious!

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theabroma, can I get you to come to Hawai'i and shell all the macadamias from my parent's tree in the backyard, too? :D

I feel your pain, though, about making phyllo from scratch. That's not something I'm going to repeat again anytime in the near future. Although it was really yummy!

I don't have any problems with using cake mixes, although like most of you here, I prefer the satisfaction of making my own cakes from scratch - plus it gives me more control over the quality of the ingredients that I use.

My sister-in-law decided for her birthday one year that she wanted chocolate cake from a box. With canned frosting. And sprinkles. Any dessert in the world I would have made for her, and she wanted that. :-/

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I think cake mixes speed the time it takes me to make a dessert for a party. I've been trained professionally and have worked in a few restaurants where everything was done from scratch.

Yet a recipe that I used many times when I am asked to make somethign for a party is a chocolate sour cream cake that uses a mix. (similar to Wendy's earlier post). Everyone loves it. In a crunch it is my go to recipe.

Has anyone tried using a Dunkin Heinz mix in the form of a bisquit? I am planning on making a buche de noel. Instead of a bisquit (or genoise) I was curious to see how spreading the mix onto a sheet pan and seeing how that would turn out.

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I'm a professional baker of the "wouldn't touch a mix with a ten foot pole" variety, but one thing I've learned over the years is that you just can't please every potential customer, so you might as well produce what you like, and your customers will follow suit. People will either like your cakes or they won't, and there isn't one cake or buttercream recipe that all people will enjoy, either. Some people like very sweet, some people prefer barely sweet.... and wouldn't you rather be producing cakes that you enjoy eating as well? You can't effectively represent and sell a product you don't really believe in. So if you think your doctored mix tastes better than any all-scratch recipe you've found for the same cake, then by all means use it and stand behind it. Just don't serve it to me. :biggrin:

..........

I think the best way to handle it is to side step the issue. I think it's sort of rude for someone to ask if it's a mix or scratch.........are they judging your ability to bake or are they looking to see if you'll give them the recipe. If they are judging you, ignore them (they must be mean spirited). 

When really they qualify for execution just by ASKING!!! ....... 

With the climate of baking such as it is with all the things that have already been discussed in this thread--it's tantamount to asking, 'boxers or briefs'--it just should not be asked.

I completely have to disagree with these comments though. It's not inappropriate at all to want to know what you're eating; it's not rude, and as professionals are we not obligated to disclose ingredients to those who ask? Mixes do contain emulsifiers and preservatives, and sometimes food dyes, and some people may be asking due to allergies. I don't think lying about the quality of your product is appropriate or professional at all. And if you do feel the need to lie, couldn't one assume you're not proud of the product you're using? If that's the case then you shouldn't be using it. If you don't have any issues with what you're using then you should unashamedly disclose it. I don't mean the recipe, I mean the ingredients, especially if those could be an issue for someone.

What's wrong with saying you use a doctored mix recipe? People do know what that means. There's only 2 good reasons for someone to ask:

1 ~ They want to know what they're eating, or may not want to eat cake mix - so be it. Be truthful.

2 ~ They're fishing for any excuse to lower the cake price. If that's the case and they found out you were actually baking from scratch, believe me, they'd find another reason to whine about how it's not fair they have to pay for something they ordered. :hmmm:

But finding good scractch recipes for cakes, like any good food recipe, are like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but they do exist. Too bad there's so many crap recipes out there that so many people give up and resort to mixes, simply because they don't have the time to wade through a million crappy recipes. :wink:

And as for comparing this to asking boxers or briefs..... uhm..... well, will they be eating the underpants?? :biggrin:

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with all the added ingredients, it sounds more like "scratch" to me!

i recently made two wedding cakes (for my own wedding!) from "scratch"...but to be honest, they tasted like "mix" cakes to me.  not in the the wierd chemically way, but in the pleasant bring back the memories kind of way.

i guess what i'm trying to say is that if you feel the recipe tastes good, then go ahead and do it.  that's ultimately what it comes down to, right?

Is there any way we can get your recipe for a "Scratch" cake that tastes like a mix? Does it have the texture of a mix? It's funny that we're even trying to make a scratch cake taste like a mix, isn't it? :huh:

The chocolate recipe I used is a mayonnaise cake sort of like devil's food and the white cake I made was from Martha Stewart (I think...I'll have to check on that one). Both were completely from scratch with fresh/good ingredients but in my opinion tasted like mix. Not BAD, just a little like it came from a box. If you want exact recipes, I can PM them to you.

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But finding good scractch recipes for cakes, like any good food recipe, are like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but they do exist. Too bad there's so many crap recipes out there that so many people give up and resort to mixes, simply because they don't have the time to wade through a million crappy recipes.  :wink:

If your speaking personally to me, I have not given up. Not at all! In fact we have threads seeking the best scratch white cake and yellow cake recipes here in the P & B Forum. As of yet, I don't have that great recipe and none of the recipes offered were any better, in my opinion. If YOU have a great recipe for those two flavors please be generous and share yours.

I have plenty of time to wade thru a million crappy recipes and I have. But while I'm wading thru those crappy recipes I'm not going to serve them to paying customers if they don't exceed the mix I've got.

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I think the best way to handle it is to side step the issue. I think it's sort of rude for someone to ask if it's a mix or scratch.........are they judging your ability to bake or are they looking to see if you'll give them the recipe. If they are judging you, ignore them (they must be mean spirited). 

When really they qualify for execution just by ASKING!!! ....... 

With the climate of baking such as it is with all the things that have already been discussed in this thread--it's tantamount to asking, 'boxers or briefs'--it just should not be asked.

I completely have to disagree with these comments though. It's not inappropriate at all to want to know what you're eating; it's not rude, and as professionals are we not obligated to disclose ingredients to those who ask? Mixes do contain emulsifiers and preservatives, and sometimes food dyes, and some people may be asking due to allergies. I don't think lying about the quality of your product is appropriate or professional at all. And if you do feel the need to lie, couldn't one assume you're not proud of the product you're using? If that's the case then you shouldn't be using it. If you don't have any issues with what you're using then you should unashamedly disclose it. I don't mean the recipe, I mean the ingredients, especially if those could be an issue for someone.

What's wrong with saying you use a doctored mix recipe? People do know what that means. There's only 2 good reasons for someone to ask:

1 ~ They want to know what they're eating, or may not want to eat cake mix - so be it. Be truthful.

2 ~ They're fishing for any excuse to lower the cake price. If that's the case and they found out you were actually baking from scratch, believe me, they'd find another reason to whine about how it's not fair they have to pay for something they ordered. :hmmm:

Honestly, your response feels like your trying to make a personal dig, instead of making a discussion. I resent you stateing that I need to "lie". I think your way off base.

I don't lie, didn't lie. That's why I stated right out that I use a mix for white and yellow cakes. And I have the guts to stand up to people that look to berate people that do. The vast majority of people use mixes and theres plenty of reasons why each person chooses that route or not. Because you don't approve of it, what gives you the right/higher ground to stand in judgement of people that do?

I am NOT proud that I use a cake mix for white and yellow cakes. This has nothing to do with pride or shame! I'd rather have a great recipe for those cakes if I had the choice, that's why I'm constantly seeking them.

If you have food allergies I can understand asking about ingredients in items your going to eat. Your free to ask me if I've added any emulisfiers or preservatives, ABSOLUTELY! Your free/welcome to ask me what ingredients are in ALL my baked goods. (I can't wait to tell you about the lye I use too.)

But asking if something is from scratch or a mix is a noisie question, in my opinion. It's not asking what's in the product for health reasons. It's asking if I cheated or if I'm posioning you, if I use your reasoning. Pastry chefs are not the only professional chefs that use mixes from time to time. Chefs often use batter mixes from pancake, waffle, fish fry batter to stuffing. Do you enter restaurants and ask chefs if they use mixes too?

Plenty of professional recipes include emulisfiers......they aren't horrible unnatural dangerous chemicals placed in the item to posion the consumer. Butter/fat and salt and sugar can do every bit as much if not more harm to the human body too.

I think the one thing most people don't like about cake mixes is the artifical taste. They do taste of fake vanilla. But the moisture and crumb of them make that factor override the fake taste for many peoples choice. If you can couple a cake mix with a great filling and frosting those flavors do help out the cake mix. They don't completely cover them. But it's a choice. And many people prefer that choice and I see no reason to judge others choice so long as it doesn't infringe on your choice not to make or eat that.

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Well I'm a bit taken aback here. No, I wasn't speaking directly to you, Wendy, I was answering the question of the original poster and sharing my opinion, and that opinion was to be forthright about what you use and to be happy with your product. There was no attack intended, nor can I find one after rereading what I wrote several times. And although several people made statements to not dsclose the use of mixes, I chose to quote you and K8 because your quotes were more "to the point." I was trying to not have too many quotes in my post, that's all. No ill will intended to the people I quoted; I just found both of your statements more articulate.

Because you don't approve of it, what gives you the right/higher ground to stand in judgement of people that do?

Nope, not standing in judgement or being on higher ground. Also not disapproving, either. I wrote that if Dailey prefers the mix cake then she should by all means use the mix cake.

(I can't wait to tell you about the lye I use too.)
It's asking if I cheated or if I'm posioning you, if I use your reasoning.
Plenty of professional recipes include emulisfiers......they aren't horrible unnatural dangerous chemicals placed in the item to posion the consumer.

Ok, 3 statements that I'd suggested cake mixes are poison and this is absolutely not the case. I never said anything of the sort and I have no idea how you get that out of what I wrote. Let me clarify....I don't think cake mixes are poison, nor do I think the use of them is criminal in any way. I don't think people who use cake mixes are bad people.

You work in a facility as a pastry chef....Dailey and I work for ourselves and sell made-to-order cakes directly to our customers. There's a difference there, in that we deal with customers face-to-face and therefore have to field many more questions about the product before we can sell it, as I'm sure you're aware. So my post was in response to Dailey, or to anyone reading who is in the same situation, to simply make the product you feel tastes the best and to stand behind it, whatever that product may be.

Hope that clarifies. Again, no ill will or disrespect intended to anyone.

:smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile::smile:

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All too many years ago I read a marvelous article in the Sunday NYT Magazine, and the turn in this discussion has reminded me of it. The article gave serious thought, couched in light, well leavened language, with a smooth crumb, and delightful taste of when and how children should be taught the Ten Commandments.

The author (??) deftly pointed out that, while a child was able to know by example and to learn that hononring it's parents was commanded, that same child hadn't a clue one about all this adultery hoohah, so hammering into it that adultery should not be committed, opened the door for the parent to explain adultery and all pertaining to it! An excellent point, I thought.

If I may shift the topic a bit and make a pitiful paraphrase of that statement's thrust: most, effecftively nearly all, of the consumers of our cakes and pastries, are 'children' in the field of pastry. There are lots of products out there in out dry storages and walk ins, even those of rabid members of the Scratch Society, which are not 'natural.' And then there are the really woolly ones: the mixes, etc. To try and explain to the cake consumer that what they are looking for can only, or mostly, reliably come from a box or jar will not make a lot of sense. They hear 'BOX', think "I could have done this!" (no, they could not have either for lack of time or lack of skill in assembly and decoration, or lack of interest in entering the arena of competitive cake wrangling) while staring at your bill, and they might get in a bit of a snit.

To try and explain is practically useless, unless you open the door and have the 'box/no box' discussion when they first come across your doorsill to order the %^&* thing. I say this because I have been in these shoes a couple of times. Generally, if their questions are motivated by food allergy concerns, they will state it up front and directly: no xyz, it gives me hives, etc. It's the sneaky, flabby, "I'm on a mission, but am not going to tell you" type questions that put my feathers up a bit.

The way I see it, if you owe the "truth" to the client, it should be delivered in the presentation before the deal is inked. After that, if questions come from someone else, I don't feel bound to answer; they are not my clients.

I still consider those professional sponge formulas w/SweetEx, etc to be on par with mixes (I said I was a recovering scratch snob!). I only wish Colette Peters or Sylvia Weinstock, or one of their confrerie were in on this discussion ... I feel certain that they have tales to tell. The only one out there who just may have Totally Pure Hands is Rose Levy Beranbaum. And I, for one, admire them all.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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I do work in a place where I'm rarely face to face with my customers. But I started helping my Mother who was baking out our home, using cake mixes........back in the 1960's. Later she opened a bakery, where she further continued to use a cake mix and always was upfront about it. I've had people ask me if we/I use a cake mix for the majority of my life. When I became a pastry chef I desided to learn all I could and not follow in my Mothers foot steps exactly. The reason I use a mix for white and yellow cakes has nothing to do with her or my past, I just wanted you to know that I've been asked the question about scratch or box most of my life. When I get down to the reasons why someone would ask that question........it has never has made real sense to me.

It's clearly not about health reasons. If so, they'd just ask "do you use __ because I'm allergic to it.". None of the people I've ever met who have food allergies have started their inquiry beginning with the question "Do you use mixes?". One has nothing to do with the other because you can't know/assume that every box mix has the exact same ingredient your allergic to.

The real "arugment/discussion" I believe comes down to making some sort of judgement when you ask a baker if it's from scratch or a box. I don't want to start on this sort of discussion path with a client. Instead I want to know why are they asking (so I can answer any real health concern questions)........that's what I meant when I wrote before that I'd side step the question. Ask me the real question you have on your mind. I don't advocate lieing on any topic and I also don't advocate people asking mean spirited questions. Just tell me why you want to know, and I'll tell you.

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To illustrate my point about declaring whether you use mix versus scratch, there's an old story about a mob that rose up to kill a man. He was clever enough to shout out that he belonged to same union half of the mob belonged to. The two unions were rivals in real life. The mob broke in two and he slipped out with his life.

Likewise, in the great cake debate (and this being business, not pleasure baking) if you declare which way you go, you run the risk of loosing business, sullying the water and getting lo$t in the shuffle, because of the touchy emotional division even as evidenced in this thread.

Sometimes it works in your favor but hot button issues divide people and dividing your clients is not business savvy.

Your potential client may think they want scratch but their taste buds want mix and vice versa. You can't tell by looking at them or by listening to them. You just never know and you don't want to draw & quarter your clients if you are serious about your baking.

It's an age old controversy, a roll of the dice, Russian Roulette, not a legitimate inquiry. It's a, "Tag, you lose!"

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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We have this discussion in the bake shop almost weekly. Last week, the issue was dried banana slices for a garnish for Bananas Foster fried pies. I wanted to buy them and one of the pastry cooks wanted to find the perfect method for drying them overnight in the dehydrator. The week before that, there was the big controversy, "Why is the fresh pumpkin making the pumpkin pie gray and weepy? The canned never did!" When you have to feed hundreds of people at a time in a short period of time, you have to decide what's best. And yellow/white cakes are very, very difficult to make when they need to be sturdy, moist and delicious. Even RLB has never been any help to me with this, though I have a new favorite, her White Chocolate Velvet Cake. Yummy! and super moist, with a great crumb. But, again, it dries out quickly. I never have this problem with any chocolate cake in my repetoire, just the vanilla and white ones.

Wendy, I also grew up with the pudding mix-oil fix for mixes. It works well, but I put it away after culinary school, thinking I couldn't ethically use it. And have had to suffer through a lot of complaints of dry white cakes. As for telling people, you have to be honest. It's the chemicals that make the cake sturdy and moist! Better living through chemicals! And using Sweetex in a scratch cake is just using more chemicals. Take a close look at the 50-lb. bag of AP flour, or cake flour. Chemicals there, too. Most Americans grew up with mixes, and expect that moist, sturdy, fake-vanilla taste. Give 'em what they want, but they still need to expect to pay you for what they don't want to, don't know how to or simply won't do.

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As for telling people, you have to be honest.  It's the chemicals that make the cake sturdy and moist!  Better living through chemicals!  And using Sweetex in a scratch cake is just using more chemicals.  Take a close look at the 50-lb. bag of AP flour, or cake flour.  Chemicals there, too.

All cakes are made with chemicals. A chemical-free cake is an impossibility. 99.99% of the chemicals in our diets are natural chemicals. Sugar, flour, salt, eggs, milk, fruits, vanilla, butter -- all are composed of one or more chemicals. Water is just as much a chemical as polysorbate 60. I don't mean to nitpick, but too often people use chemical and synthetic chemical synonymously.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I don't use mixes because I avoid all trans fats (which are common in mixes) and because I want to tweak the cakes. I have no religious scruples about anyone else who wants to use a mix.

However, if I was going to buy a cake from a pastry shop, I think I'd be a bit annoyed if I knew it came out of a DH box; somehow, I'd like to think I was getting something that showed creativity.

That said, I think I'm missing something: I read with interest many of the posts above, including Wendy's (whom I greatly admire), and I don't see any that use the mix per directions on the box. Everyone seems to have a different way of doctoring the mix, sometimes with as many new ingredients as it would take to make a cake from scratch! What are you saving in time if you add flour, sugar, flavorings, sour cream, etc?

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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I don't use mixes because I avoid all trans fats (which are common in mixes). . .

Its certainly true that most mixes have a good deal of trans-fats, and that most of our trans fat intake comes from products with partially hydrogenated oils, but you will never avoid all trans fats as long as you use butter or milk, since they contain small amounts of trans-fats as well (created by in vivo microbial hydrogenation of polyunsaturated fats). It won't affect me one way or the other, since I rarely eat anything with partially hydrogenated oils, but hopefully the industry will make the switch next year to fully hydrogenated fats that lack trans-fats altogether.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Everyone seems to have a different way of doctoring the mix, sometimes with as many new ingredients as it would take to make a cake from scratch! What are you saving in time if you add flour, sugar, flavorings, sour cream, etc?

Only some people use a mix to save time.....others use it because they like certain aspects that a mix has...and I suppose some people use it because they don't know how to bake a consistant cake with-out a mix.

I use them because that's what my client prefers in white and yellow cakes. I've conducted some fairly extensive blind taste tests and the doctored box mix is what gets picked the most.

Which doesn't mean that I prefer them.

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