2012/01/19

Step away from the box... (French Fridays with Dorie Quatre-Quarts)

I have probably ranted about this before, but there is an ongoing battle "spirited debate" in my house regarding what things should be made from scratch and what fall into the "use a box" category. 

There may be an instance or two of slight hyperbole in the text below. I tried to keep it to a minimum - and only for dramatic effect. Pause...
 

I am by no means a purist - hey, let's face it - sometimes life happens and convenience wins out. I do try to make that the exception rather than the rule. (For example: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese - I think The Karate Kid would revolt if I ever permanently banned that from the house.  Sometimes, you have to know which battles to fight.)


There is one item that most commonly is at the center of the great "scratch" or "box" debate. 

Cake. 

With the exception of King Arthur Flour's Chocolate Indulgence Cake Mix, it is a very rare that a box mix can be found around the house. I have been known to be a little passionate about my cakes. (The last time I can remember using a box was for a last minute batch of cupcakes that one of the girls needed for a sporting event - said child expressed their severe disappointment in my use of that box & a tub.  Lesson learned. Kind of.) 


Despite the concurrence of the Chief Cook & Bottle Washer (me) and The Peeps that cakes are one of the easiest from scratch items you can make, The Dude still doesn't understand why anyone would spend the extra five minutes "all that time" pulling out ingredients when you can dump a packet out of a box, add oil & water then bake.

Seriously. 

It almost brings me to tears.  Actually, I think it has once or twice.



Apparently, taste and quality of ingredients don't bear into play.

You would also think the glare of three offended females would alter the opinion on this one.



Apparently not.

At the end of the day, it all gets eaten and I am left wondering "what up with that?"

Sigh.

Let them eat cake... right?

Especially if it is vanilla cake with a healthy topping of berries.



This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie.

38 comments:

  1. I love that you used Strawberries because I was thinking this would be great for strawberry shortcake - only one of my most favorite desserts! Now that I have the basics down, I want to experiment a little more with lemon & orange zest & liquers. I was surprised how good this was for how easy it was to make.

    Now to enter into the controversial debate: I think cake mixes have come a long way. As long as I make homemade frosting, or doctor the cake in some flavor-infusing way, my husband is happy to eat it. I did make Trevor's Vanilla Bourbon Cake for Thanksgiving & no one guessed is started out with a mix.

    Have a terrific weekend!

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  2. I'm with you on cake mixes. My weakness is frostings. I freely admit to having KAF frosting mixes on hand at all times. But I know it's the same principle: dump pour stir = same as homemade.

    The quatre quarts turned out lovely ... but Cher ... what are those chocolate cake-like disks in the background? Chocolate. Chocolate! CHOCOLATE!

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  3. @Karen - I think those were the layers from the Chocolate Ribbon cake... I have a bit of a weakness for layer cakes. It's bad.

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  4. Because I only made a tiny amount of this, we didn't even get to eating this with ANY topping. Loved it. Glad I didn't make more cos I would have eaten he lot!

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  5. Yes to the healthy serving of strawberries, what luxury!
    This cake made my kitchen smell so good and the flavor with all the fresh ingredients was way better than anything out of a box!

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  6. Funny because this topic was big in our neck of the woods this week but for a different reason. Still eating everything in site (what diet....it is cold and dark around here) I found a recipe for "almost scratch" cinnamon buns from a blog I follow. She put another recipe in for the entire thing made from scratch the way her mom does each week, but the blogger explained that she found an amazing store bought frozen dough product that she uses. I googled and learned a local (and not fancy...) store carried these "Rhodes" breads. I made multiple batches of cinnamon buns with homemade frosting and my entire family as well as Nana's went nuts. They kept saying "you made these from scratch"???? I said : sort of. I have no current plans to go and make her mother's recipe....Now for this one, it was a great time of year but these strawberries are totally making me wish this was a May recipe in PA. May revisit this one in berry season for sure.

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  7. The pictures are great and I love the idea of strawberries with it! I am planning on topping ours with cherries!

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  8. So funny - you have no idea how many times I stand in the baking aisle reading the side of the box - all the ingredients and artificial colors and flavors make me put it back every time. Then there's your point - 5 extra minutes to measure it out. Exactly!
    Your cake looks great, as do the berries. Spring will be here before we know it!

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  9. There is room in my heart for both kinds of cake. Really, I'll eat whatever is in front of me. I only buy a mix if I'm in a huge rush, though. Your cake looks great. It's so thick! Mine was thin. Maybe I used the wrong size pan.

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  10. Totally YUMMY..I love it..Delicious.

    Aarthi
    http://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.com/

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  11. The Dude must have grown up eating cake-from-a-mix because why else would he feel so strongly about that? I can't usually bring myself to use a mix, but I did use one for last-minute class cupcakes once.

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  12. This looks abolutely delightful with all those berries! Box indeed ...

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  13. I really enjoyed your post, though, I actually have the opposite problem. The ONE TIME I was in a rush and reached for the boxes cake mix my husband practically revolted.

    Also, your berries look delicious. I too thought that this cake would be great with berries, but the selection at my market this time of year leaves much to be desired. Guess that means that I will simply have to make it again!

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  14. I just ate the last of my two punnets of strawberries yesterday, otherwise I would've done the same as you! The berries add such vibrancy and flavor to the cake, not that it isn't yummy on its own, of course. Isn't it great baking sweet stuff from scratch? I just baked mine now and am in the process of posting it :).

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  15. Cher, I can't remember the last time I used a cake mix. I actually had to throw one out that was past date and had been sitting in my cabinet for, I think, years!!! Cake mixes serve their purpose, however I would rather mix something up without all the preservatives.

    Love the way your cake came out...simply beautiful with all those berries! Have a great weekend!

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  16. Your cake came out beautifully - I love the height you got and the color around the edges....I completely agree about boxed cake mixes, I would be very offended if anyone suggested they preferred boxed to one of my home made cakes. I did recently learn, however, that two of my favorite cakes from childhood were doctored mixes, so I guess they aren't all bad!

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  17. I made this while leftover soup was warming on the stove - can't think of when I've used a boxed cake mix, ever, in my adult life! Very pretty with strawberries...

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  18. Cher, too funny. My boys are all for homemade over box. They don't mind the extra five minutes (especially since I'm the one doing the work.) Love all you pics, your cake is really lovely.

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  19. Since I started making cakes from scratch and using quality flour to do so (one of the things I have found makes a major difference) all boxed cakes taste artificial Yours looks so perfect, and the strawberries look delicious.

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  20. Mmmh... my Mom's signature cinnamon swirl cake comes from a box. She has tried to make it from scratch but it's just not the same. Darn you, Pilsbury!

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  21. Great call on the fresh berries topping. It looks delicious!

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  22. Oh my, I would cry EVERY TIME if I need to defend cakes from scratch vs from box to my boyfriend! Next time, try a side by side blind taste test with him. Perhaps that will change his mind. :)

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  23. I agree ... box cake just smells and tastes gross. Always worth the time & effort to make a cake from scratch.

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  24. We really enjoyed this one. Yours looks great with the berries! Love your box debate, we're on the same page. My son could eat his weight in boxed Mac & Cheese, homemade doesn't stand a chance. And my daughter is a total cake snob, so no boxed baked cakes here.

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  25. Let's face it- he'll never admit he's got it wrong. :) They can be stubborn, can't they? Why would he want to miss out on all that deliciousness - great job, Cher. It looks delicious.

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  26. My husband is the same way about cake mixes! Men are so weird.

    Your cake looks delicious! I put strawberries on mine as well - match made in heaven!

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  27. Those strawberries make me dream of spring! Sometimes when I'm going to bake (which is not as often as you do), I will measure out the ingredients earlier in the week and then on the day I bake, it's sort of like making a mix, but it's from scratch.

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  28. Cher, You are definitely right about 1) Some Things Do Not Have To Be Made From Scratch; It would be fun to write a Post abut the food products that we each believe can be done better by others (meaning, not-from-scratch). 2) Pick Your Battles. I did not Post my Quatre-Quarts this week because it was better left for others. I was so fired up about this simple cake, had all my ingredients out and ready-to-cook, and, even had made the batter and was ready to put into the oven. But, it looked funny. Duh..... I had neglected to whisk the sugar into the butter. So, me being me, I replaced the batter into the dish, pour in the sugar and stirred like heck which, of course, upset all the magic things that were supposed to happen to the cake,. I baked it. Hadn't re-buttered the pan enough and the cake stuck. So, 3) Cut Your Losses. I will re-make and re-bake on another day and just enjoy all my Sister and Fellow Dorista's Posts. Loved yours. Mary

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  29. Gorgeous cake - I love how it puffed up and is such a pretty golden color. I agree with you - cakes should be from scratch, not a box. They are simple and taste so much better!

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  30. Your cake with strawberries looks scrumptious. I thought this cake would need something and at first thought strawberries but the grocery had some lovely raspberries, my husband's favorite. Now I find I like it just as it is.

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  31. Mmmmmmm....so beautiful with the strawberries! Yeah, my family doesn't get it either...of course, they're happy with plain old Oreos! I left a blog award for you under my Friday post :)

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  32. I totally agree on cake mix - it just doesn't seem like a lot more work to make one from scratch. I.e., a real cake. That said, the thing I cheat with sometimes is chicken stock. Don't tell. Your cake looks lovely!

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  33. Love the strawberries on your cake! :)

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  34. I like to think that homemade is more healthy! If you make it from scratch it has to be healthy ... right?! I think it's all the preservatives that are the problem!

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  35. Oh yum! Next time I am topping mine with berries! I am all about making things from scratch but we do have some easy mac on occasion. :)

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  36. Your cake looks lovely and it sounds delicious. I am a purist who can taste the artificial elements in cake mixes, so I think I understand how you feel. This is my first visit to your blog and I've spent some time browsing through your earlier posts. I'm so glad Idid that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  37. Cher, Your being such a great FFWD member and blogger caused and inspired me to include your link in my Post today about Dorie and her online cooking groups. I have so enjoyed reading your Blog and included it in my Link List at the end of my Post. Looking forward to more in the year ahead. Mary

    http://www.lightsonbrightnobrakes.com/mistakes-happen-recipes-bomb-life-goes-on/

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  38. Cher it looks great! I'm with you on the mix v scratch discussion!

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