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Don't use boxed cakes.

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 

I get tired of 'chefs' saying they use boxed cakes.  They stink.  A good pound cake (I use a sour cream one) from scratch or a hot milk sponge cake from scratch is SO much better!!! 

post #2 of 55

Sorry don't agree. There are specialty bakeries who make great cakes. not cheap but comparable to home made they employ pastry chefs or are  owned by one.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #3 of 55

agree or disagree,  what is the problem ?  some people use boxed mixed cake and some don't.  to each its own right ? 

 

 I personally do BOTH... I bake from scratch more than mixed.  I am happy doing both. But I can decorate a cake like a pro.  What ever makes people happy and comfortable..  Have a very nice day..

post #4 of 55

"They stink" is not an invitation to thoughtful discussion, especially on an internet forum (which tends to amplify aggressive language).  If you really want to encourage people who rely on mixes to try baking from basic ingredients, don't yell at them.  You might describe the technique for one of your favorite cakes, for example.

post #5 of 55

I am not talking Cake Mixes, I am talking about already made frozen cakes from a good commercial bakery like Sweet-Street which is handled by Sysco or US Foods. They are excellent and each is consistantly the same as the last one.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #6 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin View Post

"They stink" is not an invitation to thoughtful discussion, especially on an internet forum (which tends to amplify aggressive language).  If you really want to encourage people who rely on mixes to try baking from basic ingredients, don't yell at them.  You might describe the technique for one of your favorite cakes, for example.

Your right of course. My intent wasn't to close off thoughtful discussion. My thread was a reaction to the chef's who I've seen on television who are incredibly professional and exceptional in the detail and quality and effort they put into their culinary food's and then resort to a boxed mix for a desert! I'm sorry; wasn't intending to make anyone feel like I was 'yelling' at them. I've watched these amazing chef's do things I couldn't dream of doing; admire their creations and their skill, and then feel a sense of loss when they refer to using a boxed cake mix! A tragedy in my mind. Here I am, wishing that I could be 1/5 of what they are in the kitchen, and with my lowly skills I can make a desert 3 times better. It seems wrong.

I wasn't aiming my comments at anyone on this board, of course! I felt compelled to share my warning to those of you who are craftsmen and women in the kitchen. Are boxed mixes easier to make for a commercial business? Absolutely. Do commercial cake makers use boxed mixes? Yes. If that's what you do and people buy it, that's good for you.

However, if your business is as a culinary chef, and you spend years of crafting your skills; please..........please........learn to use fresh and excellent product for baking as much as for broiling. (And sift the flour).
post #7 of 55

I think that sometimes the discussions on the cooking forums are a confusion of "languages" because it's not always clear if someone is talking about professional kitchens or home kitchens.  Since if this were a discussion on bakeries or restaurant cakes, it would be in the professional forums, i assume the topic is mainly about home cooks. 

 

What i, personally, object to in cake mixes is that they make you THINK it's easier to make theirs, but really, it's not at all difficult to make a good cake if you have a good recipe.  They get people used to opening a box, and that makes them THINK that making a cake from scratch is hard.  Some mixes require you to add milk, sometimes eggs, sometimes even butter.  In the end they've mainly just done the measuring for you.  And there is always a taste of artificial ingredients in them.  At least, I can tell when a cake is from a mix.   Once, years ago, i was here in Rome and was invited by an american who offered cake.  I thought, "this tastes just like a mix, but here you can't find cake mixes".  I asked for her recipe just out of curiosity, wondering how she got the artificial taste, and she said it was a mix - she had found a place that sold duncan hines cake mixes.  Have you ever noticed the flavoring they add?  a little almond extract in the chocolate?  a strange tongue feel (the powdered shortening maybe?) 

 

Another thing is that they are selling you flour and sugar and some crappy artificial ingredients for an exorbitant price to make something that is just as easy and comes out tasting far better.  The thing is just to get a good recipe.  (of course not on some random site you get by googling because many of the recipes you get are simply wrong, bad, or with typos and untested). 

 

And another gripe i have with them is that they have made people think making cakes is hard.  When i;ve given cake-mix-dependent friends a recipe and they actually tried it, they can;t believe how easy it was.  Sure, some cakes are hard, but not the ones they sell in a box!

 

And finally, along with a whole army of industrial products, they've educated people's palates to an artificial flavor.  (Doesn't anyone notice the aftertaste of diet coke any more?  Bla!)

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #8 of 55

Definition   In the trade a boxed cake is one that comes already to cut (usually frozen in a box) a mix is one that comes powdered in a box that you add an egg and some water and bake it. Moist restaurants I know of, do not use cake mixes. They do sometimes however ue muffin mix for corn muffins,bran and blueberry. Or buy a premade batter for these in 30 pound tubs which are  not bad. (KARPS brand out of Chicago)Again they are consistant. When making powdered mixes  are not consistant, depends who is making it. This has been my experience.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #9 of 55

DevelopingTaste....think of it this way: Not all Chefs have practical knowledge of baking. Some places can't afford a pastry Chef and the boss does that work.

As with other forms of convenience foods cake mixes can and do play their part.

post #10 of 55

Thank you both.  I always thought "boxed cakes" meant mixes.  It IS a different language.  smile.gif

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #11 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Definition   In the trade a boxed cake is one that comes already to cut (usually frozen in a box) a mix is one that comes powdered in a box that you add an egg and some water and bake it. Moist restaurants I know of, do not use cake mixes. They do sometimes however ue muffin mix for corn muffins,bran and blueberry. Or buy a premade batter for these in 30 pound tubs which are  not bad. (KARPS brand out of Chicago)Again they are consistant. When making powdered mixes  are not consistant, depends who is making it. This has been my experience.



Yep, yep.  Just doin' my part to try and confuse everything.  ;)  You know, I get what your saying, and don't have an issue with that.  My lack of experience in real culinary restaurants is showing here!  I have been to some places where the meals were fine and the deserts were not, but most of those places weren't mega metropolitan fine dinning.  Still;  I think it is worth saying that I recommend to the pro's to think about desert in the same way they think of the rest of the meal.  I love and even envy your passion for fine cuisine, and here it in the young chef's voices on shows like Top Chef (I realize they are young), but don't here the same passion in a good, yet simple desert. 

 

I probably feel that way in part because of the way I was raised.  If we had a desert at home it was usually once a month and holidays, and yet frankly, my mother made deserts like no other;  especially her pies.  But she also has a carrot cake I've never tasted the equal of, and a supper German Sweet chocolate, peach and blackberry cobbler, sponge, pound and angel food cake, bread pudding, oatmeal and raisin cookies, chocolate chip, and I prefer her sugar cookies above all others.  But I've never met a person who didn't say she made the best apple pie they ever tasted in there life.  Well, I can't touch her quality, but I can make a pound cake that is better than any I've ever tried in a restaurant. 

 

I know......it's time consuming, and as a business, your main focus is on the entree, etc., but even having one or two well made deserts can have a great impact on the overall experience!  :) 

 

Just ignore me...........sometimes I'm a grump one day and a cry baby the next.  lol.

post #12 of 55

For those who have restaurants, I'm one who would actually choose a restaurant based on their desert.  If a place has exceptional deserts, unusual things prepared with care, i would go there in a minute.  Yeah, the entree is important, but so is the desert, for those who love them. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #13 of 55

I am with you, mixes save you 2 minutes of measuring and with the cost of a couple mix boxes you could buy ingredients for many cakes. Same thing with cornbread mix, brownie mix....

post #14 of 55
Ok, there's a few things I'm going to take issue with. Please keep in mind that some of this and any future posts may just be me playing devil's advocate in a sense. Just because I feel that a point has validity, doesn't necessarily mean that I have to agree with it. Siduri and DT have made some good points that range from "I whole heartedly agree" to " I'll agree to meet you half way". My goal here is not to dispute those, but rather to open the discussion other elements of the equation when trying to decide when it's "appropriate" for a chef to use convenience products. If this was only meant to poke at TV chefs for using mix cakes, then I'm taking you guys off the tracks and I apologize in advance for that! And shame on them for taking all that $ to teach us how to be consumers rather than how to build a cake!!

There is a reason why pastry chef is an altogether different career path than ( food?) Chef. There are few people who can assimilate all of that information without blowing a cranial fuse. Sure, any chef worth a salt should know a good bit of baking and pastry fundamentals, but for most of us mortals, a compromise needs to be drawn between being an expert in one field and being average at both. I cannot fault a chef for using a box or mix cake if they are unable to consistently produce a cake of similar quality themselves. In the case of pastry shops, I must admit that this bothers me to a point, but they must have their reasons which will inherently be part of why any specific business is successful. When I choose to buy the " uglier" cake that tastes better than the one with 1000 butterflies on it, it is a reflection of my personal preference and not a condemnation of their practices.

We also need to consider that many chefs will not personally be making these cakes. It is our job to use the resources( staff) available to get the job done and earn profit. Not to run around and do every thing ourselves. So now the question becomes, is my prep cook( and their eventual replacement) going to be able to consistently produce the cake up to specs? Moreover, do I understand the process well enough to train a monkey to it? No offence intended towards the backbone of the kitchen.

A common mis-perception is that of the chef doting over your dish and blessing it with all of his heart and passion on its way out the door. We do our best to put the best possible dish in front of you. But the reality is, that we have to train our staff which corners to cut so that it is possible to make hundreds of dishes in a three hour period. For all the glamour and passion that the TV and marketing directors like to fill or heads with, behind the veil, we are working to find every last shortcut we can employ to get the food out without your noticing that something was sacrificed. Until you find me an owner that doesn't care for profit with a client base that is either very very small or doesn't mind waiting a long time it really can't be done without cheating in some capacity. So in essence part of what makes a great chef is knowing how to cheat.

Does anybody actually make puff pastry anymore? In my limited scope, I've seen or heard of it being done exactly zero times. It's way to labor intensive, I can't believe that even the culinary elite would bat an eye at hearing that their desert( or what have you) was prepared using frozen pastry sheets. Demi glace? Some people will turn their noise up at a bucket of prepared demi. Truthfully, there are some very good demis on the market which happen to also be very reasonably priced. If you can't spare the real estate to keep your stock boiling and reducing for two days, what'chya gonna do? Is there a problem with buying sorbet? It's no harder to make than a simple yellow cake. I would even venture to say that is easier to do and harder to mess up. On top of that, using in season local fruits is sure to have a bigger impact on the finished product over store bought than difference between the flour in the box and on my shelf. Yet this is a gripe that has never crossed my mind.

I could go on, but I think I've gone on for long enough. This is actually my third attempt at posting here in as many days. On the previous two attempts, my browser crashed as I was about submit. Needless to say, this topic has been stewing in the depths of my brain for three days now and the ideas have grown accordingly. Well, there you go. Have at it! ( If it works this time. I won't be trying this a fourth time)
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #15 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparkie View Post

Ok, there's a few things I'm going to take issue with. Please keep in mind that some of this and any future posts may just be me playing devil's advocate in a sense. Just because I feel that a point has validity, doesn't necessarily mean that I have to agree with it. Siduri and DT have made some good points that range from "I whole heartedly agree" to " I'll agree to meet you half way". My goal here is not to dispute those, but rather to open the discussion other elements of the equation when trying to decide when it's "appropriate" for a chef to use convenience products. If this was only meant to poke at TV chefs for using mix cakes, then I'm taking you guys off the tracks and I apologize in advance for that! And shame on them for taking all that $ to teach us how to be consumers rather than how to build a cake!!
There is a reason why pastry chef is an altogether different career path than ( food?) Chef. There are few people who can assimilate all of that information without blowing a cranial fuse. Sure, any chef worth a salt should know a good bit of baking and pastry fundamentals, but for most of us mortals, a compromise needs to be drawn between being an expert in one field and being average at both. I cannot fault a chef for using a box or mix cake if they are unable to consistently produce a cake of similar quality themselves. In the case of pastry shops, I must admit that this bothers me to a point, but they must have their reasons which will inherently be part of why any specific business is successful. When I choose to buy the " uglier" cake that tastes better than the one with 1000 butterflies on it, it is a reflection of my personal preference and not a condemnation of their practices.
We also need to consider that many chefs will not personally be making these cakes. It is our job to use the resources( staff) available to get the job done and earn profit. Not to run around and do every thing ourselves. So now the question becomes, is my prep cook( and their eventual replacement) going to be able to consistently produce the cake up to specs? Moreover, do I understand the process well enough to train a monkey to it? No offence intended towards the backbone of the kitchen.
A common mis-perception is that of the chef doting over your dish and blessing it with all of his heart and passion on its way out the door. We do our best to put the best possible dish in front of you. But the reality is, that we have to train our staff which corners to cut so that it is possible to make hundreds of dishes in a three hour period. For all the glamour and passion that the TV and marketing directors like to fill or heads with, behind the veil, we are working to find every last shortcut we can employ to get the food out without your noticing that something was sacrificed. Until you find me an owner that doesn't care for profit with a client base that is either very very small or doesn't mind waiting a long time it really can't be done without cheating in some capacity. So in essence part of what makes a great chef is knowing how to cheat.
Does anybody actually make puff pastry anymore? In my limited scope, I've seen or heard of it being done exactly zero times. It's way to labor intensive, I can't believe that even the culinary elite would bat an eye at hearing that their desert( or what have you) was prepared using frozen pastry sheets. Demi glace? Some people will turn their noise up at a bucket of prepared demi. Truthfully, there are some very good demis on the market which happen to also be very reasonably priced. If you can't spare the real estate to keep your stock boiling and reducing for two days, what'chya gonna do? Is there a problem with buying sorbet? It's no harder to make than a simple yellow cake. I would even venture to say that is easier to do and harder to mess up. On top of that, using in season local fruits is sure to have a bigger impact on the finished product over store bought than difference between the flour in the box and on my shelf. Yet this is a gripe that has never crossed my mind.
I could go on, but I think I've gone on for long enough. This is actually my third attempt at posting here in as many days. On the previous two attempts, my browser crashed as I was about submit. Needless to say, this topic has been stewing in the depths of my brain for three days now and the ideas have grown accordingly. Well, there you go. Have at it! ( If it works this time. I won't be trying this a fourth time)

Well, I am deeply appreciative of your input. My "rant" was 1/2 in fun and `1/2 trying to make an opinionated point. I'm so glad you felt free to express your devil's advocate point of view......Wasn't trying to offend anybody, just wanted to vent and grab harmless attention..or so I thought. Thanks.
post #16 of 55

I can understand that, Sparkie, obviously, from the professional kitchen point of view. But while a (food?) chef is different from a pastry chef, the (food?) chef should not underestimate the importance of desert for some of his clients.  Everyone is different, but for me a special meal is not special without a special desert, and if the desert is a standard thing that you can get in half the restaurants in town because they all are getting them from the same place, there is nothing special about it.  Use demi glace from a box, use puff pastry from the freezer, but do something special with it. 

 

You wouldn't put a pre-made pre-frozen bought braised meat dish on the table for your clients.  Is that any different from putting a pre-made bought desert on the table?

 

There are wonderful simple deserts, easily made, not difficult, that could be prepared in advance and finished off in the oven.  Just like a roast chicken done to perfection, simple as it is, is considered (so i hear) the sign of a good chef, so is a simple tarte tatin, in all its rustic beauty, caramelized to the right color, good apples, rough brisee pastry, a blop of really high quality whipped cream on the side, with a touch of vanilla and sugar, maybe - just because it's the first one that comes to mind, also because the making of it is much more similar to a (food?) chef's skills than a pastry chef's skills.  You don;t have to all resort to chocolate mousse or creme caramel or a pre-made cake.

 

Now maybe the premade cakes you're referring to are really special, I only know the usual deserts here in Rome, and they're all the same and ok, but every stupid trattoria has them, or if they make their own they're always the same thing, panna cotta, tiramisu or creme caramel, all wonderful but nothing special if everyone makes them.  But just don't rely on your chef's palate because those who are food chefs are often somewhat indifferent to deserts.  Ask a desert person!  

 

As a simple home cook (but a good one) i always plan my meal from the ends inward.  First i decide on my desert.  Then first course, soup or pasta or something.  Then vegetable (it has to be special) and then the main dish.  But that tells you what is special for me in a special dinner.  For everyday i don;t make desert or a first course, so special meals begin and end with what i most miss in everyday cooking.  Lots of people don';t concede themselves the luxury of desert unless they go out.  Make it special! 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #17 of 55

You can't argue with a GOOD ( some are really bad) boxed cake. At our bakery we did a taste test for fun. We used a commercial mix and then did our small batch cake and handed them out as samples. We were so amazed at how many of our die hard customers, loved the boxed cake. Our fellow bakers and pastry chefs all new that it was a boxed cake, but also loved the texture and taste. The old stand by boxed cakes like Duncan Hinds etc etc have had 90 years to perfect the recipes and that is why that some, do taste good and with a wonderful texture. We will never use a commercial mix in our bakery because that is not our image.

http://www.naturalbaking911.com

post #18 of 55

I have had the same experience, only in my small kitchen experiment.   While I strongly prefer "made from scratch" cake, my brother who lived here after his divorce would only eat boxed cake.  He liked that texture.   I did make one chocolate cake once that he liked.  I beat the butter so long, it stayed whipped up when I added the other ingredients, and I confess the texture was more like the boxed cake.  But I still prefer made from scratch.

post #19 of 55
My wife is our pastry chef in our bakery, and it always surprises me when her cake consults turn the way of customers wanting her to emulate a boxed cake for their wedding cakes, especially when it comes to white, yellow and chocolate cakes. Customarily we do all scratch product, hell we even mill our own flour, but I have to cave to the customers tastes and we go that route in some instances. We have a business to operate, college to pay for for our two daughters, and customer satisfaction is what it comes down to, when you are trying to stay in business. We can stick to our guns and say no, but then eventually we could just make those cakes for ourselves, when we dont have anymore customers. The customers tend to want what they are used to, and we have to give it to them.
Chef Trace
post #20 of 55
Quote:
Lots of people don';t concede themselves the luxury of desert unless they go out. Make it special!

Now that's a train I can ride all day! I've worked for one chef who used to say the exact same thing. He had spent some time working closely with a Master Pastry Chef at some fancy hotel and his approach to the desert course was above and beyond any other chef that I've worked for. From the standpoint that the desert course is your last opportunity to impress your guest with the food, the case can be made that the dessert is the most important course of the meal. Also your last memory is frequently the strongest as time cle ars out your memory banks.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #21 of 55

Quick question from a non-baker: If I find (try, develop, steal crazy.gif) a cake recipe that is satisfactory for me and my clientele and I then mix a large batch of the dry ingredients and portion the batch into individual seal-able plastic bags, i.e. vacuum sealed or ziplock as examples, and use a bag of my pre-mixed dry ingredients when I want a cake (of course, adding the portioned wet ingredients the recipe calls for), how is that different from using a packaged mix created by someone else?

 

Is there a difference measuring and mixing  the dry ingredients as I need them or measuring and mixing ten times the quantity and portioning it into 10, separate packages that I can use as I need to?

 

This thread seems, to me, to have confused to entirely different questions/discussions due to differing interpretations of words. For sake of discussion, shall we define

  • portioned mix to mean a boxed, bagged, whatever of pre-mixed dry ingredients, and
  • boxed cake to mean a baked end product?

 

 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #22 of 55

Pete,

of course i don;t work in a professional kitchen but i make tons of cakes and they are exceptionally good, so everyone tells me, and my own taste buds tell me the same. 

The method of cake making would allow you to mix some of the dry ingredients you would normally mix in a cake - depending on the method. 

 

the two most common methods are creaming (butter creamed with sugar (beaten long and well so air is incorporated and sugar is almost impalpable) and then eggs beaten in one at a time.  Then if chcolate is used, you melt it and add to these ingredients.  THen you mix flour, salt and baking powder in 3 parts, alternating with the liquid(s) (milk, coffee, water, buttermilk etc)

The pre-mixable dry ingredients are flour, baking powder and salt.  Hardly worth measuring out in advance!

 

the other method would entail mixing sugar, flour, salt, baking powder (cocoa if any), then adding room temp butter and part of the liquid (in this case milk, water, etc, egg) in two or three parts and beating.  This is an easier method, makes a wonderful cake, and Chocolate is often added with the butter.  Cake bible (Beranbaum) uses this method.  In this case it might be a slight advantage to mix the ingredients. 

 

Sorry if you already know this, but it seems to me that i remember you saying you don;t bake at all, so i thought to explain it. 

 

But keep in mind there are wonderful deserts that are not cakes.  a brisee is something you would already be doing in a quiche or other salty food.  tarte tatin is one use of a brisee, and some actual stovetop cooking methods (caramelizing) - then baked.  Some form of topfen palatchinken are also very much "cooking" rather than baking techniques - crepes, beaten eggs with topfen cheese, etc.  Bavarian cream.  Tarte with brisee crust, bavarian cream inside, strawberries on top and melted redcurrant jelly on that.  just some that come to mind. 

 

And yes, as sparkie says, the last thing you go home with after a restaurant meal is the taste of the desert in your mouth.  that will be the crowning glory or the sense of vague disappointment!

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #23 of 55
Now that's the reality of this situation in the three posts above my previous one. The ideal that any professional kitchen( bake shop et al) ought to be producing their cakes " from scratch" is something I think that we all can agree on. As with many other times in this wonderful cyber place, I'm on Siduri's side of the fence. The OP is a gripe that has fallen from my lips many times in this life. With plenty of agreement from anyone who cared to listen. In spite of the remaining idealism they hasn't yet been beat out of me, I see a few things happening here.

1) The world we live in has largely grown up in the lap of convenience.
2) The companies that make good box/ mix cakes have figured out the formulas to the point that they can deliver convenience and quality at a reasonable cost.

I forget who mentioned this earlier, but the sad fact of the matter is, that oUr pallates have grown accustomed to mix cakes amongst a great many other convenience and processed foods. There is no amount of culinary expertise, execution, nor innovation that can compete with the flavors that we grew up with. I can make a passable yellow cake, haven't had much luck with chocolate though. But for me, my favorite chocolate cake is the mix that advertises a cup of pudding in every cake. Can't remember if that's Duncan or Crocker. And don't get me started on Manwich Bold. Where I am currently employed, everyday at least one party brings a cake for us to serve to the table. I have tasted the vast majority of them. The vast minority of people want to take the rest home. Never understood that, but that's how it is here. I can't prove it but I think I can, with great accuracy, decipher box cake from scratch cake. What I've found, to my taste is that I seriously question why some of these cake places even bother with making their own. It's to the point where if you can't produce something similar to the box cake you have failed. These box companies have spent years and $$$ not only on perfecting their formulas, but also marketing them to make them the standard of cakes.

When I add all of this up, it is hard to make a case for using box cakes. From a callous perspective, I would have to say that it's only a matter of pride that stops us from using cake mixes. When you consider the customers expectations(here and now) vs the risk of missing the mark with a product that doesn't necessarily fit inside the box, how can you rationally expect your business to succeed without emulating or using the boxed product that we are mostly used to? Of course, who is going to stand on the flip side of this coin and move us into new territory with joys yet to be discovered?
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #24 of 55
That was eaxactly what I said, it pains me greatly to use mixes, but commercialism has trained the consumers palate, to want Betty Crocker and thats what they expect. It's a situation that you manage to conform to, or, get outta the way, because it will happen anyway.
post #25 of 55

I am always on the side of making things from scratch, but when feeding large groups of people it isn't always the most profitable way or there just isn't enough time in a day, week, month to get it done, I admit to using premade desserts for banquets, but I not always proud of it, something I think of changing all the time and may get there some day. I have a few items that work, one is bread pudding, which goes over well, I have repeat customers so I need to do a variety. The point is if your using premade bought desserts, your just like everyone else and what your putting out is nothing special or better than anyone else. Some premade desserts as mentioned are expensive to buy and are also not a very profitable either. My last job was a small dinner house, and I made all the desserts from scratch, and felt very good about it. Cake boss is one tv show I enjoy,they make there stuff from scratch and I would like to see less decorating and more desserts, How about sharing the recipe for hot milk sponge cake, I'd like to try it. Baking cake is one thing I need practice at. 

post #26 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CurtisPNW View Post

I am always on the side of making things from scratch, but when feeding large groups of people it isn't always the most profitable way or there just isn't enough time in a day, week, month to get it done, I admit to using premade desserts for banquets, but I not always proud of it, something I think of changing all the time and may get there some day. I have a few items that work, one is bread pudding, which goes over well, I have repeat customers so I need to do a variety. The point is if your using premade bought desserts, your just like everyone else and what your putting out is nothing special or better than anyone else. Some premade desserts as mentioned are expensive to buy and are also not a very profitable either. My last job was a small dinner house, and I made all the desserts from scratch, and felt very good about it. Cake boss is one tv show I enjoy,they make there stuff from scratch and I would like to see less decorating and more desserts, How about sharing the recipe for hot milk sponge cake, I'd like to try it. Baking cake is one thing I need practice at. 

I love this recipe. It came from one of my mother's church cook books (you know, one of those that are put together for a bizarre or fund raiser) It's simple, yet the cake comes out moist and light and 'spongy' without being 'rubbery'. Delicious; especially with a glass of milk. A standard of my mothers when I was growing up we didn't add anything, but it seems to me that a great way to expand this recipe would be to include fresh fruit (like blue berries, strawberries, peaches, or some other fruit; even frozen fruit perhaps) and perhaps a dairy topping of some kind. The cake is not bad cold, but seems better freshly hot and is nice heated up in the micro.

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

Ingredients:

4 Eggs
2 Cups of Sugar
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Table Spoons of Butter (Margarine could sub...yuk)
1 Cup Hot Milk


Directions
:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a sauce pan place milk and butter and put on low heat, and stir occasionally (keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil). In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs till light and thick. Gradually add sugar and continue beating. Add vanilla, fold sifted dry ingredients (always sift flour!) into eggs mixture. Check hot milk for melted butter; if 'steamy', then it's ready to be added. Put Butter/Hot milk in with the mixture and mix well using a spatula (or whatever), but not too much to reduce leavening. In two 8" inch square or 9" round pans, or what we prefer, a 'tube' pan that's been greased and floured, place the mixture and put in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Tooth pick test. Eat!! smile.gif
post #27 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

Quick question from a non-baker: If I find (try, develop, steal crazy.gif ) a cake recipe that is satisfactory for me and my clientele and I then mix a large batch of the dry ingredients and portion the batch into individual seal-able plastic bags, i.e. vacuum sealed or ziplock as examples, and use a bag of my pre-mixed dry ingredients when I want a cake (of course, adding the portioned wet ingredients the recipe calls for), how is that different from using a packaged mix created by someone else?

Is there a difference measuring and mixing  the dry ingredients as I need them or measuring and mixing ten times the quantity and portioning it into 10, separate packages that I can use as I need to?

This thread seems, to me, to have confused to entirely different questions/discussions due to differing interpretations of words. For sake of discussion, shall we define
  • portioned mix to mean a boxed, bagged, whatever of pre-mixed dry ingredients, and
  • boxed cake to mean a baked end product?


Not sure I'm qualified to answer your question fully Pete, but this is my take. First off, I think I can taste a box mix cake and tell if it's made from 'scratch'. Secondly, sifting is vital and some people don't sift if its from a box it seems to me. I can't explain 'why' it's vital, I just know from experience it is. Third, I wonder at the quality of the flour from box mixes. Flour, like other grains, can very in their quality. A 'finer' grind can impact the lightness of a cake or pastry or crust. "Virginia's Best" (Big Spring Mill, VA) is one of the best products out there, and you can always tell the difference in your biscuits if you use their quality product.
http://www.bsmill.com/Welcome.html
post #28 of 55
Thread Starter 
Furthermore,

I think you guys make a point about the marketing/business angle to deserts. Gordan Ramsey, love him or hate him, does make a point about having 'fresh' local products. If I was in business, that's what I'd try to find....something local and fresh, and I'd bargain my butt off trying to get the price down to reasonable. Nut's and berry's and other fruits are common all over the US and other places, and would be something to look for.
post #29 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TracyMC View Post

That was eaxactly what I said, it pains me greatly to use mixes, but commercialism has trained the consumers palate, to want Betty Crocker and thats what they expect. It's a situation that you manage to conform to, or, get outta the way, because it will happen anyway.

While I respect your right to disagree, I hope you don't mind my contrary point of view. I think people expect what they are used to getting, but once their taste buds experience something better, than they'll forever know they aren't getting the best. Why not try one cake from scratch to include in your offering at a higher price than the others? You don't have to say it's from scratch as opposed to a box. Just, "the lemon sour cream pound cake is $$".
post #30 of 55
No, I respect what you are saying 100%, my point is we do tastings all the time and I would venture to say that if we throw a box mix in the ring, the customer will pick it as there favorite, probably 50% of the time based upon what their palates have been trained to expect crumb and texture wise. And those times we done throw one in as a sample they inevitably say they are looking for something texturally like a mix. Maybe it is the market that we work in but I have seen the same results in large more "sophisticated" markets. I would love to only give my clients scatch made cakes, but if they want a wedding cake from a boxed mix at 8$ to 10$ a serving thats what they get.but they get the best damned boxed cake mix and fresh source local ingredients for fillings and frosting we can give them. Now dont get me wrong, we just do this for our livelyhood and we have to adapt to our customers needs or they will go to my competitors, who wouldnt know how to make a scratch cake if the had too, but that being said i never covered the fact that the box mixes are never quite the same off the.shelf box mix one would buy, it has our own mark on everyone that goes ot the door:cool:
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