Friday, March 19, 2010

Yeah, I'm Saying It!

I have long wanted to address what in my opinion is a burning question just begging to be answered, but have held back for fear of offending my readership. However, a recent episode (well an episode I saw recently anyway) of "The Katie Brown Workshop" brought this question to my mind again, and I decided I'm just going to say it:

Why on God's green earth do we need baking mixes?

Well, it's out, you can all hate on me now, if you want.

I just don't understand them. Is it really that hard to measure out flour, baking powder or soda, and salt? Really? That's all some of these baking mixes are. I'm trying to picture the scenario in which one thinks, "Hmm...I'd like to bake about a coffee cake? Okay here's a recipe! Let's see flour, baking powder, salt, vegetable oil, sugar, milk, eggs...oh dear, no, that's far too much work! Let's try this Bisquick recipe instead. Let's see, it calls for Bisquick, vegetable oil, sugar, milk, and eggs. So much simpler! How did I ever live without Bisquick?"

Really? By using the Bisquick version, this theoretical person has saved, what, 30 seconds by not having to measure out the leavening agents? I will agree that more complex baked goods, like cakes can be a little more tricky, but honestly, if you can follow the directions on the back of the Betty Crocker box, you can follow a basic yellow cake recipe. I swear on my son's security elephant it's not that difficult (some kids have a blankie, my kid has an elephant; told you he was cool).

Okay, back to the Katie Brown episode. For those of you who have never seen it, "The Katie Brown Workshop" is a show on PBS in which Katie Brown, a former caterer, does segments on cooking, decorating, and gardening...or rather flower my opinion, she's sort of like the poor man's Rachael Ray (which shows you what I think of her if you know how I feel about Rachael Ray...), or the very poor man's Martha Stewart. she was demonstrating her special recipe for festive, fancy carrot corn muffins. Her daughter and her little friends love them, she says, they can't get enough! Are you ready for her special, festive fancy carrot corn muffin recipe? Get a pen...okay here it is:

Take one box of Jiffy corn muffin mix. Prepare according to instructions. Add some shredded carrot. Bake.

Make a glaze of maple syrup and powdered sugar. Pour over muffins. Ta-da!

Bet you didn't need a pen for that one, huh? I'm sorry, but I don't think you should be allowed to call a dish your special recipe if all you did was add 2 things to a boxed mix! That's like adding a dash of cayenne pepper to a jar of Ragu and calling it your super special secret spicy sauce (oooh...I think I'm going to patent that name, so alliterative!)Would it really have been that much more difficult for her to measure out some flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt and make an actual corn muffin recipe? I guess it would have taken away from her time pulling the heads off of roses and skewering them on willow branches (no kidding, I couldn't make this stuff up, people).

I don't mean to hate on Katie Brown, or anyone else who uses boxed mixes, I just really don't see the point. Now, if you could get an entire cake in a box, well then they'd have something...oh wait you can. In fact, here's a good place to do that: All I'm saying is if you're going to bake, bake, if you want a cake out of a box, buy one from professionals.

Throw that Bisquick away, people! Better yet, donate it to a homeless shelter, write it off as a tax deduction and use the money you saved to buy a bag of flour, a can of baking powder, and a box of baking soda. Call your grandma and ask for her coffee cake recipe, or if your grandma's a Bisquick lover, call me! I have at least four simple and delicious coffee cake recipes including a vegan one.

Rant over. Let the hate mail commence ;).


  1. No hate mail here, you have a very valid point. I will say that I do bake from scratch except the occasional box cake mix and sometimes if I'm feeling lazy brownie mix. For me white cake mix is usually in the cupboard as a fail-safe for my cake falling, although until recently I have never had than happen. Living at 6,ooo feet above sea level you never know with scratch recipes if they will come out okay or not!

  2. I think you make a valid point especially concerning calling something a homemade recipe when you are just spicing up a boxed/canned/etc item.

    I will say that living abroad I have come to miss Betty Crocker yellow cake mix. This is something that I honestly almost NEVER eat in the States but a friend imported some for my baby shower and it tasted so good- like home:)

    I've baked pretty good pies and treats since I have been here but sometimes I want the goodness that comes from a box- and personally I have never been able to get that flavor myself.

    I also think that time and convenience are a real factor. There are many mixes out there now where you are literally just adding water and maybe an egg and oil. That is -easier- and some people don't want to spend more time on cooking or baking. Plus it is basically impossible to screw up a boxed cake and I don't think that is true when baking from scratch.

    No hate here though:)

  3. My husband said this just the other day, which I thought was funny since he literally never bakes, and has no idea if making things from scratch is harder or not.

    That said I make everything from scratch these days.

    I used to make everything from the box. The one upside of baking things out of a box is that you end up with less dirty dishes (some mixes you only add water) When you have a kitchen smaller then most people's bathroom, and no dishwasher, the number of dishes dirtied is significant.

    All that being said, I still have said kitchen, and said lack of dishwasher, but I don't used boxed mixes anymore. I guess I just grew out of them or something.

    Oh, and I agree with Ash, you can't really duplicate the taste of boxed cake, which to me is a good things because I'm not really crazy about the flavor of boxed cakes :-)

  4. Pffffffffft! I do not agree. In fact ur totally nuts....hehe jk. I can bake if the mood strikes me...but there's just something so tempting about that cornbread mix Ericka bought sittin up in that cupboard. I guess i haven't grown out of it but ya still have a couple of years on me *cough cough*. By the way... don't let ericka bake for you. She made these "low fat" brownies once....they bounced. I kid you not a ball........I still ate them lol. Then there was the cookies.....the whole wheat cookies....or were they biscuits..... I couldn't tell the difference lol...the dogs got extra whole wheat treats that night.Oh and loop-hole if i ignore the whole "baking mix" statement I did ok cause the cornbread mix was in a bag, not a bag in a box, just a bag, so therefore I'm right and ur wrong. If you disagree feel free to fly out here to kick me in the shins, I might even bite you in return so you can run screaming to mom and get me in trouble. Fair deal...? I thought so. :) Love ya mucho mucho

  5. Oh and it's about 2:30 in the morning, i have class at 8 and can't sleep but am still really tired. So if that made like absolutely no sense this is my astric (* ta-da!) allowing me to avoid all responsibility of horrible spelling, grammer and insanity possibly contained in my previous statement.