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Cake Poll: Mixing it Up with the Cake Mix Doctor, and a Giveaway!

Win it: The Cake Mix Doctor Returns
Growing up, there were a few things that were forbidden in our house, for various moral or health reasons: Doritos, the show Full House, and cake mix.

As a result, I grew up harboring a secret and dark love for all of these things. The crackle of a Doritos bag opening thrills me; I can't hear the theme song from Full House without feeling just a little shiver of excitement; and while I've come to appreciate homemade baked goods far more, I still don't have a huge problem with cake mix.

So it would stand that I've always been intrigued by the "Cake Mix Doctor" series, and as a result, when Laura at Workman Publishing contacted me to see if I'd like to check out the new and improved The Cake Mix Doctor Returns (a revamped re-release of the original book, with even more recipes), I jumped at the chance.

If you're not familiar with the concept, basically what author Anne Byrne does is take a cake mix and "doctor" it up, offering creative alterations and ingredients that will make all sorts of desserts (not just cakes) with the mix which taste far better than simply mixing-and-baked per the box instructions. And by starting with a cake mix, you have the added ease of not having to make sure you have all of your dry ingredients on hand, which can be helpful for infrequent bakers.

So I tried out several of the recipes in the book, and I have to say, I have been very pleasantly surprised with the results. One in particular though, the "Houdini Bars"--a dense bar cookie with a yellow cake crust filled with a custardy cream cheese, nut, and coconut filling, was so delectable that true to their name, they disappeared in hours (I'll share the recipe in a few days!). Of course, Byrne isn't offering a quick fix to everything--while cake mixes are the core of the book, she insists that you make your own frostings, citing wise words indeed: "frosting is the first and last taste you experience when forking into a slice of cake. It should never be an afterthought", adding that "you can get away with a cake from a mix, but you must make your frosting from scratch."

So, overall, I have to say I was pretty impressed with the book. And I'm not just saying this because Workman donated three copies to give away (although they did)--which leads to the next subject...

Sweet Giveaway!

So, I have three copies of The Cake Mix Doctor Returns to give away! To put your name in the running, simply answer this important ethical question in the comments:

If you make a cake with a mix, is it wrong to hide the fact that it's not completely "homemade"?


Let the games begin! The Cake Poll will close at 12 p.m. PST on Friday, October 2; the winners will be contacted shortly thereafter. If you are leaving an anonymous comment, please be sure to leave an email address so you can be contacted if you win!


The poll is now closed: here are the three winners who were chosen at random!
Felice from Hawaii, who writes the site All That's Left are the Crumbs
Melleah from South Carolina, who writes the site Goode Taste
and finally, Krystel T.!
Thanks everyone for entering!


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Reader Comments (295)

i think anything you bake yourself in your kitchen is considered homemade!!
-arlene in tn

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I tend to think so, but I also see nothing wrong with saying that I started with a mix. :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa 'Liss' Cain

As long as you add your own little touches. A cake pop with cute adornments that began as a cake mix still shows lots of home made love!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I don't know that it's wrong. I wouldn't lie if asked. But for most people I know, they are happy to have cake...out of a box or not!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAndi

If you bake it, then you can claim it as your own. No problem with that.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterCupcake Activist

If you use a boxed mix with no changes then its not homemade but if you add your own touches to it then I think it counts as homemade. :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Not at all, especially when you doctor it up with any type of additions!!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterHeather I.

if you go to the trouble to even make a cake and not pick up a gross one from the grocery store bakery.... If someone asks "Did you make this delicious cake?" you say "Yes!" they don't have to know you didn't make it from scratch! :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think that it is something baked at home so it can be considered homemade. Sure, there is a convenience factor, but a box-mix can be transformed into a thing of beauty. I don't know that I would ever hide the fact as I don't think there is any shame in using a box mix.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterFelice

I rarely make a cake from a mix, but yes if I do, I admit it.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterThena

If making a cake or cupcakes using a box mix means that I'm going to bake more often - then my friends and family don't mind at all. Plus, as long as I make it look pretty then that's where all of the effort went anyway.:)


September 28 | Unregistered CommenterChristina Hagan

I don't know if there's anything wrong with it per se, if I ever use a mix I'll always admit to it though. "It's just a box mix with XYZ added and I made the frosting with such and such." Most of the time if it tastes good and is homemade in any way, people don't care!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

While I admire those who bake from scratch, if it's made in your home, and not store-bought, it is most certainly homemade.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

If it was made in my kitchen and came out of my oven, then it's homemade. Box or not, a loving touch is the most important ingredient.
-Joanne in Oliver, BC

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

I prefer baking from scratch but a mix baked at home with love I would consider homemade.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I have found that most people can usually tell, and will tell you, but they are moister in general than scratch so who cares! I have a recipe for chocolate cake mix cookies that is great and no one knows they are from a cake mix!
saradavis1 at gmail

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterSara and Alex

One of my most popular recipes actually involves cake mix--it's a recipe my mom gave me and probably comes from one of the Cake Mix Dr. books. So if you have those books, look for a chocolate/banana bread recipe involving a box of devil's food cake. It's ridiculously moist and delicious. I like to make little mini-loaves and serve them warm with ice cream. Decadent!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterwordnerdy

If you put the time into it and made it in your own kitchen then it is homemade. That is definitely more homemade then buying a cake that is already made.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterBecky C.

i think that if you yourself put in the effort and love to bake it, it is most definitely homemade :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterKate

I think if you go to the effort of mixing, adding ingredients and baking it, you can say it's homemade. If you bought the whole thing at a store - no.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

If you bake it yourself I think you can consider it homemade. Especially if you make your own buttercream or add your own tweaks. However, if asked I would admit it was boxed.

September 28 | Unregistered Commentermooosley

Not at all! I use mixes in various ways all the time. Everyone knows I use boxes cake mixes for my cakes, but they don't know my secret add ins that make it special!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

I don't know that I would overtly hide the fact that it starts with a cake mix, but I have been known to tell people it's a "secret recipe"!!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterYael

You enter a world of gray with this one. It's not store bought, nor is it made from scratch.

So I just always say it was made with love :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

I don't think its a problem at all - a mix is all the basics needed for a baked good already combined. and i've found that most people, if they are happily enjoying your baked goods, couldn't care less if it originated from a mix!

stef1213 at hotmail dot com

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie
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