I started baking cakes from scratch at age 21, recently married, in a foreign country. I admit, necessity was the mother of invention, in my case. That was a very long time ago, and even when I returned to this country I continued to make my own cakes from scratch because they are just better, in every way. I offer five good reasons why one should leave the grocery shelf options and discover the realm of possibilities when one takes that leap of faith. |
1. The Ease
Anyone who believes it is too difficult, or that it takes too much time to make a cake from scratch has either never tried, or just gives up too easily. Really, it takes barely more time to make a cake from scratch than it does to open a box, get out a bowl and spoon, get an egg or two, milk, oil and whatever else the box calls for. Then measuring cups or spoons for the liquids and mixing. Grease the pan or pans. Set the oven temperature and bake. I ask you, what is the difference? To make a cake from scratch, you get out a bowl and spoon. Set out the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk. Measure the ingredients. Mix and bake. There is not a lot of difference. The one, and possibly only difference, is the need to cream the butter and sugar. While a recipe may intimidate by declaring that improper creaming of ingredients will yield a cake that is too crumbly, too dry, or uneven, I have never had these problems, even when at age 21 my one utensil was a spoon. These days most people own at least a small electric hand mixer, making it all simpler.
2. The Flavor
Flavors of cakes may be varied in many ways. Obviously, the addition of cocoa or chocolate will yield a chocolate cake. So many other options exist, and some are so simple. There are so many flavorings on the market these days that did not exist for the home baker even 10 years ago. Using orange or lemon juice or zest will yield a lovely citrus flavor. But all these flavoring possibilities aside, the flavor of a cake made from scratch is so much richer that anything from a box. Even a plain vanilla cake is exalted when made from a good recipe with loving care. To me, there is nothing plain about vanilla flavor, either. We have such access to great quality vanilla, vanilla beans and even vanilla paste these days, making plain vanilla a complete misnomer. Have you ever has a vanilla bean go so dry you cannot scrape the seeds out of it? I had that happen recently, so I broke the bean into pieces and placed it into a small grinder and made powder out of the entire bean. I strained out any larger bits, and now use a pinch of the powder in cake or icing with mouth watering results.
3. The Texture
Having made cakes from scratch since so long ago, cakes made from a box mix have no texture at all. They remind me of plain white sandwich bread. Press down and all you have is air. Light and fluffy they may be, but there is no substance at all. A cake made from scratch has some texture. There is something to chew on. There are ways to make a cake softer, such as using cake flour, but even back when I started out with just plain all purpose flour, my cakes were always exclaimed over. There is a certain amount of science involved in making cakes, but that should not stop one from trying.
4. The Diversity
There are so many types and styles of cake recipes to choose from. I am not talking about the flavors, but the diversity of cakes to make. There are simple cakes, mixed from the standard flour, butter, sugar, eggs, milk and flavor. How about a coffee cake, pound cake, upside down cake, chiffon cake or angel food? There are all sorts of cakes, like pannetone or Sally Lunn that are less well-known but equally good in different ways. The ingredients are the same basic ones, but used a slightly different way and with a totally new result.
Whenever one makes something from scratch, there is a rewarding sense of well-being. There is the feeling of pride in accomplishment and the knowledge that what you’ve made is free from preservatives and additives. You have the ability to present the family with something that you know is better for them. Find your sense of pride and accomplishment. Make a cake.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey. Visit my Web site A Harmony of Flavors my Blog at A Harmony of Flavors Blog my Marketplace A Harmony of Flavors Marketplace or Facebook page, A Harmony of Flavors. I hope to see you there soon.
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