Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cake Mix or Recipe from scratch

One of Tom's friends left a comment on my blog asking about recipes I use for my cakes. When I took my original cake decorating classes 30 years ago, the decorator who taught us also taught us that the best recipe we could use was a Duncan Hines cake mix. I have tried other cake recipes and mixes, and have always gone back to the same. I use Duncan Hines exclusively for all of my basic cakes. Of course, here in Colorado I have to follow directions for high altitudes. Not only does Duncan Hines have the best tasting cake, but it also has the best texture, and I have found that it also rises higher and it is moister than other recipes. Again, I always bake my cakes at 325 degrees instead of 350 degrees. By using Duncan Hines cake mixes, I can also keep the cost down for my customers. There is one of my cakes that I always do from scratch and that is my carrot cake...for that I use the recipe in Mrs. Field's Cookie Book, adjusting it a little for high altitudes. It is very moist and very dense, but is extremely rich and wonderful with cream cheese frosting. Many of my fillings are made from scratch, as well as my brownies and cookies, but your best bet for your basic cake is Duncan Hines.

3/9/15 Update: Several years have past since I wrote this post. I've changed a few of my recipes. I still use Duncan Hines cake mixes, but just as a base for some of my cakes, with other ingredients added. Also, I use a different carrot cake recipe now that is outstanding. Here is a link to my favorite carrot cake recipe on the blog:
Here is the link to the best chocolate cake recipe, using a Duncan Hines cake mix as the base ingredient:

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Rolls baked on silicone treated parchment liners
Rolls removed when golden brown to butter tops

Many people think that they have to bake items until they are brown, hard, and overdone. It makes me crazy!! First of all, I always bake my cakes at 325 degrees instead of the 350 degrees that it says on the package. This makes for a moister cake. Yes, you have to bake it a few minutes longer, but your cake is done when you insert a toothpick and it just barely comes out clean, and when you can touch it in the center and it will just barely bounce back. Chocolate cakes usually take a few minutes longer than other flavors. DO NOT bake cakes so long that they become dry and hard around the edges. They should be soft and moist. Also, why do some people think they have to bake cookies until they are hard as a rock, and almost burned on the bottom? Cookies should be gently crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. Mrs. Fields recommends baking most of her cookies at 300 degrees, instead of 350 or 375. Also, you should almost always remove the cookies from the oven after the MINIMUM amount of time listed. If necessary, you can leave them on the pan for a couple of minutes to finished baking, but usually you can just remove them from the pan and put on a cooling rack or directly on a clean counter to cool. The cookies may look barely set when you remove them from the oven. Do not let your cookies get too brown. They should just barely be golden on the bottom. Same with rolls or cinnamon rolls. I usually bake my dinner rolls for 25 minutes instead of the recommended 30 minutes--they should be a nice even golden brown on top and barely brown on the bottom, not dark brown. They will be softer and moister. Also, remember that everyone's oven may be a little different. Before you start using your oven, you should test the temperature so you know how hot it is, and then adjust your baking temperature accordingly. Using silicone treated parchment paper also helps to bake your items more evenly.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Does my family get tired of cakes?

Well, I suppose that depends on who you're talking about. My husband will eat anything, as long as it's laying around--that includes cake scraps, or any other cake I may have around at the time. My son in law probably will eat most of my cakes also. However, when my kids were younger, we all got a bit tired of eating cakes, myself included. Birthdays were a treat for both the kids and myself, as I would take them to Marie Calendar's and let them choose any pie they wanted. So the treat to me was that I didn't even have to do any baking--imagine that. It wasn't that they didn't like my cakes; it was just that there were always so many around that we just needed something else. When my two sons were teenagers, their friends would come over expecting to find cake scraps left over after I had finished a wedding cake. One time a friend came over asking for cake scraps, and I had just dumped them into my large garbage sack in my baking kitchen. That didn't seem to make a difference to him. He went to the garbage sack, dug them out, and proceeded to eat. I believe only a teenage boy would do that.