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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)

ah, what a great book!

While I wouldn't go around talking about, I might end up volunteering the information if people are commenting on the deliciousness. And so what. If you think you're too good for mixes, stop eating my cake! More for me.

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterlauren haupt

i always try to hide it but then feel guilty so I admit to the mix!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

I think it doesnt matter if it comes from a box where it starts as a powder, you still put it together

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

I wouldn't say it right away, but if people asked, I would tell them. Although I have felt too embarassed sometimes! (:

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterFarihah K.

As far as I am concerned, if you made the cake, you can tell them you made it. If someone asked me if I had used boxed mix, I would say 'yes' with no shame, however.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterKitten

I used to sell decorated cakes from home years ago. I always used box mixes and made my own frosting. Everyone always loved my cakes and never had one complaint about the taste. The flavor of box mix cakes are comforting and familiar to most people. Besides, it's the icing that really makes the cake. If anyone ever asked (and not many did) I used "commercially prepared ingredients". Would it be wrong to say it was from scratch. Absolutely!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterJane

No way! It isn't wrong to hide the fact that the cake isn't completely homemade. It would only be wrong if you were asked directly, "Is this from a mix?" and you lied about it. Using a cake mix is like having an epidural during labor: the end result is just as good, but the process is a whole lot easier!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterjulie

No way! Take the shortcut if you can, as long as the final product is still yummy.

September 28 | Unregistered Commenteroneordinaryday

No I don't think it is wrong to say that something is homemade especially if you doctor it! If I do use a box mix I always make homemade frosting.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterErin

LOL, I love Julie's epidural analogue. I think people are more impressed by the time you spend than where your recipe comes from. Don't lie about the origins when asked directly about recipes, but accept your compliments without feeling obligated to put yourself down with "it's just a mix"

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterTalia

Heck no! The best cake I've ever made (according to ALL of my friends...seriously, they're still constantly talking about it) is Bakerella's peanut butter chocolate cake, the one COVERED in Resses cups. Cake mixes are good in a pinch, and trustworthy to not be crazy awful :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterTara

Probably not, unless you can tell it'd be a lie. I don't really go into detail on what I did to make a cake unless it's the topic of discussion, so if I made it from a mix I wouldn't hesitate to say so.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Anything made with love from your kitchen is homemade! It's what you put into it that counts, and I tend to think that love is the biggest part of it!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterwizibuff

Not at all! Saying something is homemade is not the same as saying you made it from scratch in my opinion. :)

PS - love the idea behind this book!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterelizabethlacy

Cake from a cake mix in my opinion is "homemade" It is made with love regardless of how you start. It is labor intensive and that counts for something.
Homemade: made or prepared at home, locally, or by the maker's own efforts.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterSeptember Roberts

I agree that there's a difference between homemade and from scratch. I don't know anyone who asks if something is "homemade" but more so, they'll ask how I made something (or where it's from.)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

No need to hide, but no need to lie either! Thanks for the giveaway!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterTiff

There's a store purchased element in all ingredients, including cake mix. Using a mix is no worse than not grinding your own flour from wheat your picked yourself.

The mark of a good baker is what you do with the raw ingredients, not the ingredients.


September 28 | Unregistered CommenterC. Corn

If asked, I think it's wrong to claim the cake is made completely from scratch, i.e., "homemade." But the term is relative, and some consider anything baked in one's own oven, regardless of cake mix help or not, homemade. I have no problem admitting I've used a mix, whether I've doctored it or not!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterjama

I only bake with cake mixes. I'd love to bake without though, just don't have the patience. I never hide the fact that I use box mixes. In fact, I've been told that I'm better at box mixes than "homemade." Lol.

Contact Info: wattscrystal09@yahoo.com
OR: myspace.com/darkpixie1604

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

If you made it in the kitchen, whether it came out of your head, or out of a book, or out of a box, the simple fact is you made it. So, it's yours to claim. And if someone asks you how you made it or for the recipe, then there isn't any shame in admitting you had a little help. ;)

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterjess

My running joke is to say, "This cake is homemade. At least, that's what the box says." It always gets a laugh! There is no shame in a box mix, work with what ya got! :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

While I think anything created in my own kitchen is homemade...I would admit I started with a box but be sure to emphasize that I doctored it up. :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAndi

First I want to know why you were not allowed to watch Full House? Then again I grew up in a house where we were not allowed to watch The Wonder Years. Now about cake from a box. I tend to tell people the cake is from a box. I will often try to spruce it up a bit and always use homemade frosting to make sure it doesn't taste to "from a box." Although still to this day my most favorite cake is devils food cake with white (from a can!) frosting...yum:)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterNutmeg Nanny

Full disclosure for me. I never want to keep a great recipe to myself so I always tell, scratch or otherwise.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterLiesel
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