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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 always feel a little guilty using a cake mix since I should put the effort in to make it from scratch because it is always better from scratch. But if I don't have the ingredients or I'm feeling lazy then there is nothing wrong with cake mix as long as the frosting in my own.


September 29 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

No, especially if you put your own spin on it - you went through the effort, own it.

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

Nope. It went through all the stages, measurement, mixing, baking. Homemade, for sure!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterJelli Bean

I think honesty is the best policy. When it comes to the Cake Doctor's recipes, I enjoy telling people it was from a mix! They can never believe it, because the recipes are so yummy!


September 29 | Unregistered CommenterCinde

If people like it, who cares if it's completely homemade or not? If I'm using a mix (which is pretty rare) I use whole milk instead of water and add vanilla. So I'm kind of proud to share that it's a mix, with a little touch of my own, when they like it so much. And, you MUST make your own frosting! That's a dead giveaway that it isn't homemade!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterDianna

Yes, you have to be honest. Since the only cake mix I am ever interested in making (but maybe this cookbook will change my mind!) is funfetti, it's usually fairly obvious it's a mix :D

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterLele

First of all, 100% home-made is ALWAYS ALWAYS better!!
But you can be like Sandra Lee and just say, "It's semi-homemade." They'll get your drift! Just make sure your unique touches are 1. obvious 2. homemade (duh!) and 3. DELISH


September 29 | Unregistered CommenterPEACE.LOVE.FOOD

Home baked is close to homemade and Cake Mix Doctor recipes rule!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterPrlgrl

No, i always think 100 percent homemade is cool, but i think that doctored up cake mixes rock, take a chocolate cake mix, add chocolate chips.. or chopped bananas..


September 29 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

Hmmm, I think normally, when asked directly, you should admit your guilt. BUT of course, if no one asks, then you don't really have to tell them it came from a box, now do you? (:


September 29 | Unregistered CommenterDiana C.

Love your site, I gain 5 pounds just visiting you...my answer is no.

September 29 | Unregistered Commentercookiekenney

I love a great homemade cake!! BUT up until a year ago I ONLY used cake mix so I don't see anything wrong with it!! And I would love love love this book!!


September 29 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

I think it's important to disclose the fact it was from a cake mix. One should embrace the truth and help de-stigmatize the bad reputation of the "cake mix". Life and cake mixes are about embracing that truth and being proud of it! Why not take pride in the fact that you were able to transform a boxed cake mix into something fantastic?

September 29 | Unregistered Commentercricketc

If someone asks, then yes, one should disclose that it is a cake mix. But, if no one asks, then no harm is done!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

I mean, you made it at home... just not from scratch. So, to me, it's still a "homemade" cake!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterKirsten

While I don't think you need to enter the room holding your cake and announcing that you didn't measure the dry ingredients, if asked, then yes, you should tell. Let other people enjoy the shortcut as well!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterKitchenphobe

Cake mixes are there for a reason. I see no shame in using (and admitting to using) one from time to time. If someone has an issue with it, then I would invite them to bake their wonderful creations in my place, lol.


September 29 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

oohh, if its from a mix it aint mine!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterMahira

as long as there is no HFCS. HFCS cannot be homemade, morally or dietetically.

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterKakalina

if anyone asks, i'll tell. i really don't see the big deal...i think it if you bake something it is homemade!

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterMelanye K.

if it was made in your home....homemade right? BUT it is not from scratch...

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterCookTeen

I really don't think it is.... it still came from your kitchen and you put work into it!

Jamie H

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I don't think it is wrong because you will still have put your own touches. I don't think anyone will ask if it is COMPLETELY homemade.


September 29 | Unregistered CommenterBeePee

I think it's okay to tell people it's from a mix. All of my cupcakes and cakes are mix with homemade frosting. In my book there is no excuse for canned frosting.
Carrie B.

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

YES. I think you should take pride in whatever it is you bake, so just tell it how it is! As long as it came from the heart... that's all that counts :)

September 29 | Unregistered CommenterNisa
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