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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 like to think that even if it originated from a box, it was made with love from your kitchen so THERE! =D


September 29 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

I think anything you make in your own kitchen is considered homemade. Now, whether it was from scratch or not is another question. I think honesty is always the best policy!


September 30 | Unregistered CommenterJava Cupcake

Cakemix is just conveniently pre-mixed dry ingredients. You're still "making" something with it. I mean, I don't make my own flour, but still consider a cake made with it to be homemade. :) Back when I worked in a tearoom that had to serve 250 people a day with a dessert menu that changed daily, her recipes were a lifesaver, just enough variety to satisfy customers who weren't eager to try something too out of the ordinary. But seriously, her frosting recipes were great, and I still make one of them for my standard birthday party cake when I'm not using Dorie's Perfect Party Cake.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

I'd tell someone I used a cake mix (if they asked).

September 30 | Unregistered Commentermaryjt

If you add a little something to it to make it your own, I think you can let it slide. But I only do it when necessary - like for red velvet. Otherwise it's just too crazy to make completely homemade!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

If asked I would tell, but if no one is asking then does it matter. As long as it is enjoyed :)

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Robbins

I love Cake Mix Doctor BECAUSE she adds the homemade spin to it!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

Whenever I use cake mix I take all the credit!! SHHH dont tell!!!


September 30 | Unregistered Commenterkristen

I say, lie at all costs! Sure, I've claimed many a better box or baker's treats as my own, but at least I had something beautiful and delicious to drown my guilt-soaked sorrows.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterGP

First you start with a box of "scratch"... That's what my grandma used to say. ;)

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterPristine

I don't believe it is wrong. Thanks for the chance to win.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterNanna

I have no problem with a mix as it still takes a certain degree of finesse to bake. Jessie has all that finesse and more! Thanks for this article it makes me smile.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterLyns

No way, it's not wrong to use a cake mix! Just be honest if people ask you about it. :) I love cakes made either way - from scratch or doctored!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

If you make it at home, it's homemade in my book, no matter how it started.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterAsia

Don't hide it-- it still took you time to mix it up, add ingredients that don't come in a box, and bake it! And if you decorated it god knows that took time and supplies too!!

kelgirl105 at yahoo dot com

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterKP

i don't think that i would volunteer the mix info, but if asked i would certainly admit it... maybe. ;)

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterDixie X. King

There are times when life calls for a cake mix and other times when homeade is the best option. Why do we feel like we're doing something wrong when we use a cake mix. I don't have a problem with it at all!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterKate

If you added an ingredient and you spread it in the pan, then you made it in your home. Homemade. Presto. Never apologize for using a mix--everyone's just excited not to be eating store-bought cake with the terrifying frosting (sorry store cake lovers)!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterAshley F.

I don't think using a cake mix makes it homemade. It does make it semi- homemade though! Either way it will be delish!


September 30 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

What a great book! I would love to give it to my friend Angela who always bakes from a cake mix. While I grew up eating cakes baked from scratch by my German grandmother and for years turned my nose at cake mixes, (Yes, Oma used only real butter, no margarine and no food coloring.) I do feel that anything that brings non-store bought cakes to the world is a good thing. The more love you put into your cooking the better it tastes and the fact that it came from a box doesn't make it any less of an act of love.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin Dundon

I don't think it is wrong at all - as long as it's made with love, who's to complain? :~)

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Who's hiding? If you made it, it's homemade with a little help from a box!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterMonica B

I would not be ashamed to say i cooked a cake from mix! Some of those box cakes, are super delicious!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Put something that was baked in someone's kitchen in front of me and I'm happy. So, 'no' is my answer.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterMy Kids' Cookies

I prefer make my cakes and cupcakes from scrath, but I have no problem with mixes, as the Cake Doctor books show they can be used for so many things other than just typical cake and cupcakes. And cake mix is really great because it always turns out and it's much faster than making homemade, which is especially great if you're going to spend a lot of time on frosting and decorating but don't have time to mess with the cake.

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