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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 would disclose that information. Making a cake from scratch is a lot different than from a mix.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterR & S

When I use them I never really say anything about it...unless someone asks me upfront, then I'd have to tell!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterChefGirlRP

Don't ask, don't tell. But never lie!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterKelli

If they asked I would tell them the truth. The people I bake for are usually just happy they are getting dessert. I do have a wonderful lemon biscotti recipe that uses lemon cake mix. My mom and I make a variety of biscotti for Christmas and people always enjoy it the most.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

That's why they invented "Semi-homemade!"

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterDeppified

I would tell them if they asked, but dont really say anything otherwise!!! As lon as it tastes good and makes someone happy!!!!

Definitely okay to say it's homemade, but not okay to say it's from scratch! I love cake mix shortcuts.. thanks for the giveaway!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAmy I.

No it's not wrong; but I usually tell people . . . maybe that's my inexplicable prejudice against a short-cut which is usually delicious!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra

If it's not from a bakery then to me it's homemade. I baked my way through most of the first Cake Mix Doctor, though, so friends and family know I use cake mixes sometimes. No complaints from them though!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

I love making things homemade but by the box is great too. I usually try and make the frosting or add things to the mix to make it my own :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterLiese

Not if you make it in your house! It's still home made!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterBlaire

If I baked the cake, then I'd consider it homemade. Scratch is different, but I usually try to doctor up the cake or frosting and do something special!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterHeto

I think if you add your own touches and change it up you can definitely call it your own. darlabeck(at)yahoo(dot)com

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterGrimmy

I think that if you made it at home and buy it fully made at the supermarket there is no reason to share you started with a mix.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterBrandi George

Sweet treats are so wonderful that whether they are from a mix or from scratch - I consider both homemade. I do agree with the author that the icing is essential to the overall success of the dessert. I like to make my own. But hey, if you're a busy person - grab a can of the premade stuff and VOILA! I love cake (and cupcakes and cookies!). I always sneak a taste of the batter from the beater. That's a tradition in our house.

Anne from PA

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Yorks

i prefer to make homemade cakes but some of the best recipes are made with pre-made mixes. my families famous rum cake from over 60 years ago is made with yellow cake mix and vanilla pudding and it's awesome!!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterblondiagw15

As Sandra Lee would say, it's semi-homemade! So I would consider it a whole other category and wouldn't hesitate to tell my friends/family that's what it is :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I don't think it's wrong. I tried once to explain to someone how my cake came from a box so it wasn't really much work from me but they didn't understand lol.


September 28 | Unregistered CommenterBentoForKidlet

It's not wrong if you're put on the spot! My boyfriend's adorable Swiss grandmother asked me for my recipe once, admiring my very shapely cake; it was a mix cake and hers was a little flatter but delicious & homemade. I told her I got the recipe in Joy of Cooking...I simply could not admit to an old lady that I had made a mix cake. I know how to make delicious cake from scratch so I don't feel bad.

September 28 | Unregistered Commenterbluujay

Every cake begins somewhere. If you dress up a cake mix by adding more than what it calls for, You are creating your own mix. I don't put the brand of flour I start with nor do I mention I use a mix, How ever if I am asked. I will be honest.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I don't disclose that information until asked! I always feel like I'm cheating a little bit, but as long as people enjoy it, I don't think it's wrong to get a little "help" every now and then :)

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Elena

why should there be a stigma associated with cake mixes? i would not hide the fact if that is what one used to create their cake.

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

No way! You can screw up a cake mix, so if it comes out delicious, why not take the credit?

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterMarissa

I'm all about sharing easy tips on baking great goods - I'd totally say it was homemade, but would share my secret!

September 28 | Unregistered Commenter*kimmie*

Adopt the "don't ask - don't tell" policy! :-D Of course if someone asked straight out, I wouldn't lie to them. People can tell the diference anyway. But whatever I make I can't let well enough alone and make it as the instructions say - I always have to add my own touch anyway. But don't most people just say "did you make this?" Yep, I sure did!!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterLeeAnn
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