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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 it all depends on context :) -- I always feel guilty when I get excessive praise for using mixes + adding a little sumn sumn, so then I'll confess. But if it's around people I don't know too well, and it doesn't do any harm, and seems more like a social nicety more than anything -- no harm done to not give a full confession! Especially if you do homemade frosting (definitely essential!)

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterCaraBella

No, I don't think it's wrong to hide the fact that it's not completely 'homemade'...as long as you don't completely lie and say it's made from scratch!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterMeaghan

If you ingredients that alter the cake mix, it is homemade. Anything outside of the realm of throwing in eggs, oil and water in with a cake mix takes more effort...so you should give yourself that credit :O)

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Nothing wrong with a box mix... or hiding it! I typically only use box mixes. And I agree with only homemade icing. It tastes so much better!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

Not at all! Some of the best cakes I've ever eaten are ones doctored from a box!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

I would divulge the truth if asked. One of my favorite cupcake recipes starts with a box mix, and they turn out so moist every time. If it tastes heavenly, who cares?! jreese4peace {at} gmail {dot} com

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I admit it if I make a cake from a mix and you made it at home. Nowadays most people buy their cakes at the grocery store - yeeeeuck.

September 30 | Unregistered Commentergammamickey

There's nothing wrong with mentioning you used a cake mix. It's simply a convenient way to gather the basics is all, and in some cases, a way to avoid having to hunt down and purchase exotic ingredients or flavorings (cherry chip, for example).

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

If you made it at home its "homemade" you just can't say you made it from scratch...

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterPatti S.

Why, oh why, do we always want those things that were forbidden when we were young? Every single thing my mother forbid me were the things I gorged myself on when I moved away from home!

Anyhoo, I love the Cake Mix Doctor books and in my view, anything one does to doctor up a mix, qualifies it as home made! Never had one soul turn their nose up at anything made from one of the recipes in those books and I would never hide the fact that I'd used a mix :-)

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I think everything that comes from your kitchen is homemade. People always compliment me on my great cakes and they ALWAYS come from a box! :)

September 30 | Unregistered Commentereclectic reader

I think its totally ok, you still put some work into it.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

its one thing to just make something out of the box, but if you play around with it, it does become a special treat, thus the genius of the book I guess. These days anything that doesn't come from the store is a bit of a novelty.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterErica

I think if someone is over the moon and asks about the recipe, it's even more fun to share if the cake is a box cake! It just means that absolutely anyone can make yummy desserts! What's wrong with sharing the sweetness of easy yummy desserts?

Sara P.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

You don't have to volunteer it, but if someone asks if you made it, it's a *wee* bit vain to not say "Yes, I used a mix and did *this* and *this* and *this* to it!"

I don't churn my own butter... I'm not going to be ashamed that my flour had some of the other ingredients already incorporated.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterQuadlex

Hi there,
Only if they ask LOL
If they think it is from scratch - wahoo
happy cooking

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I still think it's homemade. Since you made it in your home :p

marie72492 [at] yahoo [dot] com

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Hide or admit the use of a cake mix, but never, never let them know how much cake batter you "sample" in the process!

October 1 | Unregistered Commenterheidicamille

Nothing wrong saying that you made it using a mix. You still made it. :)

October 1 | Unregistered CommenterLanoire

I love your site! The newsfeeds are a delight. I was just reading about the new Cake Mix Doctor book. Good to hear your favorable review.


October 1 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I love baking from scratch, and if I use a mix I'd probably tell, why not!

Chef Panda

October 1 | Unregistered CommenterChef Panda

they're going to figure it out, but there's nothing wrong with that. don't bring it up, if you don't feel like it, but definitely don't deny it if someone actually asks

October 1 | Unregistered CommenterCorinne

Nothing wrong with using a cake mix, there's still some work put into it. People are still impressed with the overall cake, so why not tell them it's a cake from a box.

October 1 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Using a box mix isn't considered homemade? uh-oh! I've been passing off box mix cakes for years as "homemade"! ack!

Suzanne Lameraux

No, I don't think it is wrong. Unless someone asks then I would tell them.

October 1 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
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