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Alton Brown reccommends box cake mix!

chiquiNO's picture

He was on last night .....but he did say to make frosting/icing from scratch!  He demonstrated buttercream and a ganache.  Glenys...maybe I need to send him the Sue B recipe??LOL

Chiqui from way down yonder in New Orleans

 

RuthWells's picture

(post #63945, reply #70 of 87)

I love Swiss buttercream.


I made Swiss buttercream for the first time this week, and find myself bemused by it.  In terms of taste, I have a hard time distinguishing it from Italian meringue buttercream, but the Swiss is much softer and I had a harder time getting it to emulsify.  If one doesn't care to make a sugar syrup, I could see using the Swiss, but otherwise, I'm at a loss.  Biscuit, what criteria do you use when choosing between Swiss and Italian?


 


Ruth Wells


"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

www.lemonade-and-kidneys.blogspot.com

www.ruthssweetpleasures.com

http://www.pkdcure.org/Default.aspx?TabI...

Biscuit's picture

(post #63945, reply #71 of 87)

A couple of things, I suppose.  Time is one.  Swiss is so quick to make - just warm the whites and sugar together until almost hot, then whip to stiff peaks, then add the butter when cool.  It's fool-proof, as long as you don't overwhip the white/sugar mixture.  It's just a nice, easy, quick buttercream.


Stability is another factor.  If stability is not an issue, I tend to make swiss.  If I need something very, very stable, though - I go with Italian.  You can't overwhip it, and heat doesn't bother it (if the cake is going to be outside or on a table for a long time) within reason (obviously, a 90+ degree day is going to be a problem).


"I wouldn't shop at Walmart.com if they were the last online retailer on earth and they shipped everything using chocolate chips as packing material. "  - Miss Alli of TWoP

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw

RuthWells's picture

(post #63945, reply #72 of 87)

It's probably a matter of habit, but I had a harder time with the Swiss, and it therefore took me more time, than I ever to with with Italian.  But then, I can probably make Italian in my sleep at this point.  I'm glad I wasn't missing some nuance of flavor -- I felt rather dense that I wasn't noticing any real difference in taste!


 


Ruth Wells


"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

www.lemonade-and-kidneys.blogspot.com

www.ruthssweetpleasures.com

http://www.pkdcure.org/Default.aspx?TabI...

Biscuit's picture

(post #63945, reply #73 of 87)

Nope, I don't think there is any difference in taste at all. 


Italian is shinier and more stable, that's pretty much it.   There is probably SOME small difference in texture, but it's slight.


"I wouldn't shop at Walmart.com if they were the last online retailer on earth and they shipped everything using chocolate chips as packing material. "  - Miss Alli of TWoP

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw

RuthWells's picture

(post #63945, reply #74 of 87)

We are on the same page, m'dear! 

Ruth Wells


"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

www.lemonade-and-kidneys.blogspot.com

www.ruthssweetpleasures.com

http://www.pkdcure.org/Default.aspx?TabI...

courgette's picture

(post #63945, reply #75 of 87)

All this talk of cakes and buttercream is driving me nuts!  I want to make a cake today for no reason at all, and I'm trying soo hard to be eat well and lose weight. Not on a diet-I like food too much for that, but a cake would just do me in.


I refuse to read this thread anymore. LOL


Mo

RuthWells's picture

(post #63945, reply #76 of 87)

You could make an angel food cake -- they're relatively guilt free.... ; )

Ruth Wells


"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

www.lemonade-and-kidneys.blogspot.com

www.ruthssweetpleasures.com

http://www.pkdcure.org/Default.aspx?TabI...

Jean's picture

(post #63945, reply #77 of 87)

Nah, they still have lots of sugar!



Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.  Will Rogers


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Ricks503's picture

(post #63945, reply #78 of 87)

Anyone tried making one with Splends or Stevia?

1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

RuthWells's picture

(post #63945, reply #79 of 87)

You really do need at least some sugar in a crystaline structure to sufficiently stabilize the egg whites while whipping, I think.


 


Ruth Wells


"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

www.lemonade-and-kidneys.blogspot.com

www.ruthssweetpleasures.com

http://www.pkdcure.org/Default.aspx?TabI...

Jean's picture

(post #63945, reply #80 of 87)

I don't like Splenda, I'd rather do without. I'm not interested in trying stevia..too many mixed reviews.




Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.  Will Rogers


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
MadMom's picture

(post #63945, reply #81 of 87)

DD wanted some chocolate cupcakes for Liam's second birthday party...they're much easier for the kids to handle than slices of cake...and she suggested I buy some.  Never happen!  I made the emergency blender cupcakes, ala Abby Dodge, and they were delicious.  Very easy, very quick.  Only one caution...Abby must like more icing than cupcake, because I halved the fudge frosting recipe and still had lots left over after frosting the twelve cupcakes.  Definitely divide the recipe by two unless you are a frosting addict, and be prepared for leftovers at that.



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

courgette's picture

(post #63945, reply #82 of 87)

I made those last week and I had misgivings about the amounts for the icing, but made it anyway. I had more than half left over. Drives me crazy when they put recipes together like that, but the amounts are no where near appropriate.

Mo

Ricks503's picture

(post #63945, reply #83 of 87)

all the more for bowl licking :)

1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

KitchenWitch's picture

(post #63945, reply #84 of 87)

She mentions somewhere in the book that she likes a lot of frosting on her cupcake.


dammit. I want cupcakes now.


~RuthAnn


<insert witticism here>

~RuthAnn

MadMom's picture

(post #63945, reply #85 of 87)

She says, right in the recipe, that she likes "two or three tablespoons" of frosting on each cupcake.  Sorry, but I think one tablespoon is more like it, and that makes a nice topping.  That was my clue to halve the frosting recipe, and I still had leftovers, which, BTW, went nicely on ice cream last night (and I wonder why I cannot lose my half a Sally???)



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

TracyK's picture

(post #63945, reply #86 of 87)

If you pipe the frosting on the cupcake, you end up with much more (and it's pretty, and faster & easier than using a knife or small spatula)... perhaps that's why the frosting amount is generous?

Why is it so cold on this beach? And what's taking the bartender so long?

MadMom's picture

(post #63945, reply #87 of 87)

Remember, though, I still have boxes of kitchen gear in my garage, and have unpacked only the essentials...and neither of my girls would know what a decorating tip was if you stood them against a wall...so I had to use a knife.  Besides, the little ones make a terrible mess if they have too much frosting, and believe it or not, Kevin prefers the cake to the frosting...if it's sliced, he will eat the cake and leave the frosting.  Something wrong with that kid, you know!



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

CookiM0nster's picture

(post #63945, reply #20 of 87)

"but it would be an interesting taste test for those of us who wouldn't be caught dead using a boxed mix, wouldn't it?"

Done it. In fact, every few years I go out and buy a mix or two to test, just to see. I've even tasted blind, and I can definitely tell, and definitely don't like them.

Gretchen's picture

(post #63945, reply #21 of 87)

Even I can tell, I think. It's the artificial vanilla principally.

Gretchen

Gretchen
Ricks503's picture

(post #63945, reply #22 of 87)

when testing this premise, do you use a basic white/yellow mix or some other flavored mix? 


As was noted earlier, the basic white/yellow cake is much harder to tell boxed from scratch.


I was bit surpised when I saw that such a big named chef as Tom Colicchio saw no issue with using a white/yellow box mix. And he did say that he would not do it for anything other than a white/yellow cake. So I see no issue with AB doing it either, especially for a show on Icing a cake.


1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

TracyK's picture

(post #63945, reply #23 of 87)

As was noted earlier, the basic white/yellow cake is much harder to tell boxed from scratch.


Actually, I don't agree.... since vanilla is meant to be the prominent flavor in white/yellow cake, I find it more obvious.


Why is it so cold on this beach? And what's taking the bartender so long?

Glenys's picture

(post #63945, reply #28 of 87)

I think the point is being missed.  He's stating that the cake from mix is exactly what a certain audience is used to, or wants or both.  Why bother with genoise or chiffon if they don't care.  He can see it from a marketplace perspective, that's it.  He's basically saying, let them eat cake, that cake.


 

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #63945, reply #29 of 87)

To be fair, that is the same conclusion I came to when it comes to making cakes for my parenting group. They do not appreciate a homemade cake - not the flavor, texture or crumb. In fact, they prefer boxed mixes, as they are what they are used to.

So, from now on, for them, I make box mixes. It's cheaper and I don't have to stress out over the damn cake. That is one thing that can be said for box mixes - they are reliable in any oven. That is about the ONLY thing that can be said for them, though.

I do continue to make homemade frosting, b/c they do like that.

That said, I will quibble that you can't get a better cake from homemade than you can from a box mix. You most certainly can; the question for me is "Is it worth the time and extra cost to make homemade?". For Mom, Matt, Ellie and myself - yes, every time. Even for school cupcakes, now, thanks to that blender cupcake recipe. But for the huge group gatherings of my parenting group or school bake sales? Nope. Box mix is fine for that.

 


"God is in the cosmic microwaves."

 

Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

CulinaryArtist's picture

(post #63945, reply #31 of 87)

To be fair, that is the same conclusion I came to when it comes to making cakes for my parenting group. They do not appreciate a homemade cake - not the flavor, texture or crumb. In fact, they prefer boxed mixes, as they are what they are used to.


That is the point. I have a friend who is a caterer, he laboriously made mini vanilla bean cupcakes from scratch for an event done in a Famous Upscale Dept. Store.  They were well received.  But not raved about.  One of the other branches of the store called him at the last minute to do a smaller event and asked for food similar to what he served at the first store.  He didn't really have the time to do the cupcakes and grabbed a couple of boxes of mix and put a little vanilla in them.  These "flew off the trays"!


They were such a hit, he was asked to make them for the next 10 events!  Guess which way he went, right with what they expected, boxed mix!  At least his frosting was homemade!  So I would agree that the expectation is what they got out of the boxed ones!  Therefore for the general public use boxed and privately use homemade.  There are many more people tuning into semi-homemade than we think!  And not all of them are looking for a laugh!!  


Jimbo the TRAVELING CULINARY ARTIST

Jimbo the TRAVELING CULINARY ARTIST

http//:www.travelingculinaryartist.com

Robin's picture

(post #63945, reply #39 of 87)

I don't think box mixes are cheaper.  By the time you add the eggs, butter or oil, the only ingredients left are the flour, sugar, and baking powder.  If you actually price out the cakes I think you'd find them at least the same cost or even more, considering they are using all fake ingredients.


Hmmm, might be an interesting study.


 

 

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #63945, reply #48 of 87)

Well, when I make a homemade cake, I can use up to a pound of butter by the time I'm done with the cake and the frosting. I use a box mix, and it's 1/4 cup of oil and 1 egg, usually.

The last homemade cake I made (delish, too) left me with 6 egg yolks in my fridge!

So, a box mix is certainly cheaper when it comes to egg/butter usage.

Still not as good as homemade, though.

I may win my friends over yet, though. They did all love the Sue B. chocolate cake.

 


"God is in the cosmic microwaves."

 

Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

Robin's picture

(post #63945, reply #57 of 87)

I wasn't talking about the frosting, just the cake.  if you were to compare a plain yellow cake with a box mix (which is what you're getting, a plain cake) to the cost of scratch, I don't think there's any savings.  There are enven recipes that use oil insted of butter, but I've seen a lot of the box mixes that do call for butter.


You can't compare a fancy homemade cake using fantastic ingredients (like expensive chocolate) to a box that only uses cocoa powder. 


I think I'll do a comparison and post the results!


 

 

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #63945, reply #58 of 87)

Yeah, but the reason homemade cakes taste better is that they use better ingredients.

If I'm going to use sub-par ingredients, to keep the cost down, I may as well just use a box mix.

The reason to make homemade is so that it tastes better, and you can't do that using Nestle's cocoa powder and margarine.

 


"God is in the cosmic microwaves."

 

Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

Biscuit's picture

(post #63945, reply #61 of 87)

Yeah, but the reason homemade cakes taste better is that they use better ingredients.


Not necessarily.  IMO, it's not the quality of ingredients thats in question, with regard to a boxed mix.  It's the PROPORTION of ingredients; specifically, the right ratio of BP, BS and salt to flour.


My biggest complaint with boxed mixes is that there is too much salt, and too much baking powder and baking soda in them.  I can taste it.  It's that nasty, chemically taste.  Same thing with other boxed-baking mixes, like Bisquick.  That stuff is just vile.  All I taste is "chemical", which is 99% of the time simply an overabundance of BP and BS and salt.  This overabundance of BP and BS not only affects taste, but also leads to overleavening, which is why you get that high dome and sometimes a crack in your cake, and also that rough, uneven texture that is associated with boxed mixes.


If you make your own, you control the ratio of BP and BS and salt in your mix, and can avoid that taste.  Also, since you aren't overleavening, you get a nicer, smoother crumb, very little or no doming and cracking.


ALSO - one last thing, regarding cost.  I rarely, RARELY make butter cakes.  Yes, they cost more to make, due to the abundance of butter.  But angel food cakes, chiffon cakes, devils food cakes, genoise, etc - they use little or NO butter at all, and the cost per cake is much less than it costs to buy a mix.  I know this for a fact.  Look at a genoise, for example.  Flour, egg whites, egg yolks, bit of vanilla, 2 tbl. melted butter.  That's it.  Angel food cakes - Flour, vanilla, egg whites, pinch of salt.  That's all.  Eggs are cheap, flour is cheap.  I could continue, but you get the gist. 


My point is - unless you are making butter cakes (and I rarely ever do), the cost to make a couple of layers of any other type of cake is less than the $3.95 you pay for a box, + the additional ingredients you add to it.


"I wouldn't shop at Walmart.com if they were the last online retailer on earth and they shipped everything using chocolate chips as packing material. "  - Miss Alli of TWoP

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw