Mix vs Scratch
When you start baking, this might be one of the first questions you find yourself asking. The French still take pride in the Art of baking while Americans tend to think it is to time consuming or complicated. What they do not know is that it's actually neither one. With simple ingredients and a few basic techniques you can create elegant desserts that will WOW your family and friends.
Let's talk a little about cake mixes. They have been readily available in the US since the 1950's? Food Conglomerates have spent millions of dollars perfecting their formulas to create a tasty cake that is, essentially, fool-proof. The fact is, many Americans don't know what a scratch cake tastes like. Scratch cakes have a distinctively different crumb and mouth-feel from box mixes, because box mixes contain ingredients like emulsifiers that are not readily available to the home baker.
Most bakeries in the US claim to be homemade or bake from scratch, but to the public's dismay, they do NOT. They use some form of mix or ship in frozen cake. Now do not get me wrong, there are a few that are not willing to compromise quality over quantity, but they are rare.
If you find one of these tucked away gems, that truly have cultivated art of baking, you have found a treasure!
Do not be misguided; there are scratch-only bakers, there are mix-only bakers and there are those who do a little of both. This holds true for home-based bakeries as well. With the passing of Cottage Food Laws in many states, including Georgia, home-based bakeries have gained popularity and give the consumer more purchasing options for their baked goods.
But scratch is better, right? Everybody knows that. Scratch cakes do have a clear advantage in the baker can control the ingredients and accommodate any special dietary or allergy needs of the customer. Scratch cakes can be gluten-free, egg-free, milk-free, nut-free, organic or vegan. A scratch cake is chemical-free and preservative-free. A good one is a testament to the skill of the baker, and can be a world-class dessert. Scratch cakes require practice, skill and talent. Not all cake artist are great bakers and not all great bakers are cake artists.
What about cake icing? You can go can if you want but I think you will agree when I say scratch is best.
Let the taste be your guide, and rely on your feedback. Whatever you decide to use, make sure your recipes are tried and true. Be confident and enjoy your cakes with fierté (pride).