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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 hate measuring out flour for cakes so i LOVE cake mix recipes! i love dump cake! haven't had it in a while... must make some :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterRN

I have her cupcake cookbook and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! One of my favorite mix recipes was the French Toast cupcakes...I sort of did my own thing with them, but they came out SO amazingly good!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterJingle

Say it LOUD, I use mixes and I'm PROUD! Yes, I always doctor them up (no pun intended), but I don't think we should feel bad even if we don't. Although you won't find me anywhere near a can of frosting! :)


September 28 | Unregistered CommenterCuteStuffInside

I think if you modify a boxed mix, it can be considered homemade.

And I think they turn out much, much better when they're tinkered with - they have better flavor!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Ok so this is my opion on the matter.. If you bake the cake purely as the box suggested you to bake it and someone who eats this cake asks "Is it from scratch/homemade" Then I feel you should say its a box mix. Now if you were to modify the recipe by using a recipe from the cake mix doctors book, then I feel the mix has now become just one of the ingredients in the recipe so now it has become labelable (if thats a word) as "Homemade" or "From scratch" :)

I sure hope I win since Ive been eyeing the original book for years!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterFrostedbetty

No, a cake made from a mix is still "homemade." It can't be considered "From scratch" though, no matter how much you doctor it up. Look at the ingredients in a typical cake mix. Can the average home cook buy those ingredients separately and mix up a cake? No.
I use mixes (doctored or not) all the time, with no apologies. I would never try to pass off my goodies as "from scratch" though.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy

My philosophy is that if anyone asks you can tell them that you made it from scratch... you scratched your head while you read the box!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenteranna

Bakerella's Cupcake Pops are divine. I tried to make some and they were so good (just not as cute as hers).

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl Wade

I don't think it's wrong at all. In fact, if someone is eating a cake they shouldn't care how it was made! I personally have had much better luck with cake mixes rather than scratch cakes. They always turn out more even and more moist.

Stephanie (scgross@pacbell.net)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think that most people these days would consider something from a mix "homemade" simply because the end result wasn't purchased from the bakery.


September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Totally not! If you took the time to make soething with your two hands and precious time...it is homemade!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAmy A

No, it's fine to consider it homemade. But remember, there's a difference between 'homemade' and 'made from scratch'. ;)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

It's definitely homemade still. You put all the ingredients together and made the cake and everything. So yes, I'd say homemade.

And I'd make the icing myself to add extra homemade-y-ness

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterfailnomore

i think it's just getting a little help. Cake mix is really already assembled flour and you can jazz it up to your own style.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterGar

what does it mattier if it is completely homemade or from a mix? I would not have a problem saying I used a cake mix. As long as the cake tasted delicious either way, now that is the important thing!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterjoaniebaby

I believe if you made it yourself, in your very own kitchen, with your very own hands, then yes, its homemade. A distinction for the record: In my eyes, everything 'made from scratch' is homemade, but not everything homemade is 'made from scratch'. As long as you don't try and pass off a cake made from a mix as 'made from scratch', or worse yet, someone else's hard work as your own, then I don't find anything unethical about saying a cake you baked yourself is homemade, be it from a mix or not.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterToni Carlton-Salley

if it comes out of my oven it is only
my business as to what went into my oven...people enjoy having something baked for them.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterJean Badgley

That's a good question. I think you should be honest. If I used a cake mix and someone asked if it was homemade, I'd say "Yes, I made it at home, but I started with a cake mix". I see nothing wrong with that.

What if someone asks for the recipe and you've been less than honest about the origins of your cake?

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

I think as long as you add some little twist to the mix, it is homemade.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterShelley

Cool book! I do think you should be honest about it, just like anything else in life. If nobody asks then no problem but if somebody asks I wouldn't lie and say I made it all from scratch!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterKristine

I "doctor" using cake mix all the time...it's easy and all my cupcakes come out delicious! I consider it still homemade...

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterLolliCakes

I probably wouldn't advertise the fact that I used a mix, but I would say so if asked.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterEphemeron

If you add a little something to make the cake "yours" then I say keep it a secret. If it's straight out of the box you must fess up ; )

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterScrapamum

I don't think it's wrong to hide that something isn't completely made from scratch, especially if the person doesn't ask. If someone asked how I made a recipe from a box of cake mix, I would probably tell them how I baked it (most people have been impressed when I've told them a cake from the Cake Mix Doctor was made with a box mix). I think everyone can appreciate the time it takes to make bake a cake at home in your own kitchen as opposed to buying something already made from the store.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterMelleah

If you added other things to the mix, then I would say that it is homemade. If asked, I'll tell them their is a box in there but that I doctored it up!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAbbey
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