Apr 3, 2008

Which is faster: cake from scratch or a box mix?

I admit to buying cake mix on sale for speedy baking when I have to take something somewhere. But is it really faster?

The Kitchn says no.

They timed themselves preparing cake batter from scratch and again from a mix. The cake from scratch took 5 minutes 25 seconds to prepare, while the cake mix took 5 minutes 13 seconds. They excluded the time it took to grease and flour the pans since each batch was going to make a 9-inch round and 12 cupcakes.

Taste results aside, could this really be accurate? Using a cake mix is really no faster than baking from scratch?

What do you think?


GinnyBerry said...

I wonder if the factored in the amount of time it takes to pull the ingredients out of the cupboards.

Also, searching for the right recipe can take a little time.

I guess I'll keep an open mind about this though. Quite possibly you do not save much time, but it just seems easier to pull out a box.

Frequently I do add extra ingredients to the mix though.

I only buy mixes when they are on sale for $1.00 a box.

Kris said...

CFO! I think they're probably probably comparable, but the from-scratch tastes better (and provides for better bowl-licking).


Carol M said...

I'm a big fan of the Cake Mix Doctor, which suggests you start with a mix but add extra ingredients. For me, it's not just about the time, it's about the taste as well as the chance for my daughter to be involved. She loooovvves pouring and scooping and measuring -- and we both love licking the batter.

MCM Voices said...

Maybe the (perceived) time-saving from a mix is not the only reason mix users use mixes. There may be a fear factor as well. Cakes are tricky, and if a mix will put the baker a step closer to an attractive product, then that may be important. The pictures on the boxes always look so yummy!

I always make cakes from scratch, but often one of the layers ends up with a depression in it, especially the yellow cakes. I don't care though - they still taste great. I don't like the artificial taste and smell of cakes from commercial mixes.

RedheadwithAttitude said...

I find my from-scratch cakes take longer. I suspect that's because they are more complicated. Flour needs sifted and the step ladder is needed to access the 'baking' cabinet (that's to prevent me from snacking on chocolate chips). I may have to try this.

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

Personally, I never use cake mixes. They taste awful, chemically and stale. Scratch baking may not be as fast as they say--I mean, did they do the prep on the ingredients before they started timing? Still, I find it just as easy to bake from scratch (and I've done both). Taste would win out, though, even if it took three times as long!!

Anonymous said...

I read a similar article a long time ago about boxed mac and cheese vs. making it from scratch. Think about it - boil the pasta, add some milk, butter and shredded cheese. It'll taste a little different and the kids may not go for it, but it's gotta be better for you than the box.

Chief Family Officer said...

I completely agree with you all that a from-scratch cake tastes millions of times better than one from a mix (which is why I use the mix only for outings that I am required to bring things to). I was having trouble accepting the time comparison, though, because I would have sworn it took me a lot of time to measure everything out. I'll have to time myself sometime and see.

@Carol M. - Thanks for the Cake Doctor tip. Since I still have some mixes in my house, I will definitely take a look!

MetaMommy said...

If you have a stand mixer and a good recipe, I've always believed that it really doesn't take long to make a cake. Honestly, it's more the intimidation factor. But if you already grease the pan, put it in the oven, and watch for "doneness," you've got most of the work done. And every cake (or muffin, cupcake, pie) you make makes you feel that little bit more confident in the process.

A nice basic recipe, like the one on the Kitchn is a great starting point. Then you can add more flavors. Perhaps replace some flour with cocoa for chocolate. Or add a hint of cinnamon or nutmeg.