Don't use boxed cakes.

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by developingtaste, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. developingtaste

    developingtaste

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    16
    Exp:
    At home cook
    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!!! 
     
  2. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    175
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    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.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  3. prettycake

    prettycake Banned

    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    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..
     
    layjo likes this.
  4. colin

    colin

    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    At home cook
    "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.
     
    kelly moore likes this.
  5. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    175
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    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.
     
  6. developingtaste

    developingtaste

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    16
    Exp:
    At home cook
    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).
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  7. siduri

    siduri

    Messages:
    3,599
    Likes Received:
    43
    Exp:
    At home cook
    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!)
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    175
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    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.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  9. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,698
    Likes Received:
    365
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    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.
     
    kelly moore likes this.
  10. siduri

    siduri

    Messages:
    3,599
    Likes Received:
    43
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Thank you both.  I always thought "boxed cakes" meant mixes.  It IS a different language.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  11. developingtaste

    developingtaste

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    16
    Exp:
    At home cook

    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.
     
  12. siduri

    siduri

    Messages:
    3,599
    Likes Received:
    43
    Exp:
    At home cook
    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. 
     
  13. davehriver

    davehriver

    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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....
     
  14. sparkie

    sparkie

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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)
     
    shudiva73 likes this.
  15. developingtaste

    developingtaste

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    16
    Exp:
    At home cook
    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.
     
  16. siduri

    siduri

    Messages:
    3,599
    Likes Received:
    43
    Exp:
    At home cook
    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! 
     
  17. naturalbaker911

    naturalbaker911

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    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
     
    shudiva73 likes this.
  18. indygal

    indygal

    Messages:
    270
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    At home cook
    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.
     
  19. tracymc

    tracymc

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    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
     
    shudiva73 likes this.
  20. sparkie

    sparkie

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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.