The New Bakers Dozen
Anyone up for a taste test challenge?

The The Bakers Dozen: Anyone up for a taste test challenge?
By W.DeBord on Friday, April 07, 2000 - 09:21 am: Edit

I'd like to be proven wrong to end the debate over cake mixes being ----. I'll give you my recipe for devils food and white cake involving cake mixes and you give me your best recipe for the same. We each make our own and the other persons cakes for a tasting. I'll pick 3 people at my work to taste test (none of them chefs), you pick three of the same at your job. Then lets compare notes. I'd like to do this in an honest fair way.

Is anyone interested?

By Panini (Panini) on Friday, April 07, 2000 - 02:20 pm: Edit

I think it would be better for you to make one of your cakes and have somebody run to the grocery store and pick one up.Sample those. You question does not seem to be in the ingredients but what the general public likes.
Why do people go to the big chains? Why don't they just call your club and pick one up.

By jeee2 on Friday, April 07, 2000 - 06:16 pm: Edit


no need to prove the public is ignorant or that scratch cake is superior, we know both to be true but sadly mutually exclusive.
Hi-ratio cake batter is crap anyway so..?
Its like comparing coke and pepsi, they're both syrupy slop and thats what we love to guzzle.
My brother started using commercial mix, then went to pre-baked frozen wedding cake blanks.
Theres no end to it.

I have a recipe for white cake using no hi-ratio fat, its a butter cake batter with meringue folded in. Its rich enough for wedding cakes but lightened by the meringue.
But you wouldn't want to compare it to cake mix because they are different animals and thats what people should be paying for.

Cheers, Gerard

By W.DeBord on Saturday, April 08, 2000 - 07:59 am: Edit

Maybe the public isn't ignorant? Have you ever stopped to think about that? Maybe my cake mix derived cake tastes nothing like you've guessed it to be?

If everything is ---- and syrupy slop maybe you can help me and others here understand just what is good. I've always worked on the basis that dessert is on the sweet vs the savory side of eating. Could you give me some examples of great desserts that meet your defination of excellent? I also would really like to learn how to make a good cake, could you offer a recipe to educate me? Oops does this look like I'm surfing to learn how to tie my apron?

By Panini (Panini) on Saturday, April 08, 2000 - 04:42 pm: Edit

You two know each other right? And this is a clash in personalities not recipes. Right? Ha ha

By d. on Saturday, April 08, 2000 - 05:38 pm: Edit

W, I'm not saying all cake mixes are crap. Some people have a taste for it and grew up with it and some don't. As a baker I like to manipulate the ingredients available, in such manner to produce a more appetizing product. I like to rely on my baking science skills to be able to put flour, sugar, eggs and milk into something that tastes good. There are cake mixes out there like Abel & Schaffer which I have tried and are quite good. It all depends on what your selling, what the customers want and cost of production.

By d. on Saturday, April 08, 2000 - 05:39 pm: Edit

The major thing that bugs me about a cake mix is the smell when baking --- that cloying artificial vanilla. I was visiting my little sister in Seattle and had to help her make a cake for a school contest. She wanted white cake mix with sprinkles and hot pink frosting(she's 10). She was one of the winners(and yes, she did most of it by herself) and all her little friends were bouncing of the wall with sugar highs at the end of the schoolday. I was brave and tried some, the texture was soft and moist(which is a good thing with cake mixes), but it tasted "fake" and horrible. But that's just my little opinion....

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Saturday, April 08, 2000 - 06:50 pm: Edit

Slightly off topic, but check out this site -- another blow against quality.

By jeee2 on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 06:34 am: Edit


I have a basic simple rule in pastry, I don't waste my time doing anything you can buy in a supermkt. Why try to emulate boxed mix?
Duncan Hines is great for suzy homebaker who wants to bake something for the family.
Its like saying "my bread is as good as wonder bread".

<Maybe the public isn't ignorant? Have you ever stopped to think about that? <
No, the public proves it to me daily.

<Could you give me some examples of great desserts that meet your defination of excellent? <
Take a trip to France, eat anything anywhere except McDonalds on the Champs Elyses.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 12:30 pm: Edit

Unforunately you seem to have missed my point Gerard. As a pro I enjoy the interaction of thoughts and knowledge obtainable at sites like this. I understand not liking something or strongly disagreeing with another persons point and likings. I am offended by you continual statements condeeming EVERYTHING as ----.
Therefore you must be saying we are all inferior because we don't meet Gerards' standards. It's reached a point where I have to say put up, prove your way is the only right way. If all the people in the world around you are wrong and tastless then you should question your-self.

Please respect me and other professionals as professionals, as we do you, to have a different opinion.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 12:47 pm: Edit

"I don't waste my time doing anything that can be bought in a supermarket". My opinion is, I'm not too proud to make something people like, like cookies and MAKE GREAT TASTING ONES. I see that as foolish not capitalizing on a highly marketable item. If that's what people want than that's what I'm going to make to the best of my abilities.

We have talked about this subject before. You feel it's your responsibility to educate people by only selling THE BEST. I feel it's my responsiblity to make THE BEST product the customer wants. We each have valid points as professionals, lets respect that.

By jeee2 on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 03:14 pm: Edit


You seem to be very defensive, I don't know why but this is a tough biz to be like that.
Why worry what I think? why be "offended" ?

<I'm not too proud to make something people like, like cookies and MAKE GREAT TASTING ONES<

Neither am I but it doesn't make financial sense to compete with supermkt suppliers.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 03:43 pm: Edit

I am tough, I'm one of the few regulars here willing to confront you. I don't care what you personally think...some of us may be writing about an issue and all of the sudden you post "Oh thats'----", we don't need your opinion UNLESS it's adding to the topic, not TRASHING the topic.

I am defensive because you have personally insulted my abilities and intellegence. I read what you write, do you?

Another point I'm making that you don't get...I'm not advocating competing with the supermarket by selling bad food. NO, I'm NOT saying make what their selling EXACTLY as they make it. Improve it, make it better, people want it. You have sumerized all items you don't personally like to be ----. When in fact you haven't tasted alot of what I and others are talking about. You've invisioned what it might taste like but the food has never crossed your lips. SOMETIMES things taste different than you invision in your mind. And I know this from EXPERIENCE!

By Kathyf (Kathyf) on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 04:08 pm: Edit

Gerard - If supermarket bakeries make nothing but ----, how do they stay in business? Guess not everyone shares your opinions on what is good. I won't buy from a supermarket bakery. Alot of other people do though. Probably because that's what's convienent for them and it's what they are used to.
The people who don't like supermarket crap buy from people like me, W.Debord, and others who believe in using quaility ingredients and making quality products that our customers like. The people who have tastes like yours - you can sell to them - they are usually a pain to deal with anyway. Nothing is ever good enough and they expect the impossible immediately.

By jeee2 on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 06:44 pm: Edit

<Gerard - If supermarket bakeries make nothing but ----, how do they stay in business? <

I think that ties in with the ignorance of the public in general. No-one ever went broke selling crap.
<The people who have tastes like yours - you can sell to them - they are usually a pain to deal with anyway. Nothing is ever good enough and they expect the impossible immediately.
Very true except for 2 assumptions, I personally have very cheap taste in food (spam etc) and my customers are just as ignorant as any, the difference is they have too much money and are very demanding. But the product is good enough.

Regards, Gerard.

By jeee2 on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 06:53 pm: Edit


<we don't need your opinion UNLESS it's adding to the topic,<

who do you think you are, the webmaster?
we don't need your opinion? thats funny.!

<You've invisioned what it might taste like but the food has never crossed your lips. SOMETIMES things taste different than you invision in your mind. And I know this from EXPERIENCE! <<

Thats true, but I am responding to your challange to compare to boxed cake mix or did you immediatly forget whilst taking it as a personal insult.? I haven't personally insulted you, you are just wearing your heart on your sleeve and thats a painfull practice.

We're talking products here, its not about you.
Although you seem to have made it all about yourself, so don't expect me to walk on eggshells to accomodate your overly sensitive sensibilities.

By tj on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 08:30 pm: Edit

what on earth are you people talking about? ha?
w.debord ,kathyf, are you out of your mind?
supermarket bakeries are the bigest reason why some close day YOU will be out of a job. the biggest junk in the universe ,trash , chemicals , synthetic ingredients, cheap crap , what else can any human with a sense of flavor can say ?
for decades , mass produced baked junk have fluded this country, messed up the good judgment of taste in people ,made several generations of ingnorent customers who dont know sh--t for food , and worst of all , the fenomenom seems to migrate to europe.
god help us all, if its not the last days of professional pastry chefs and bakers....i dare any of you to open a fine pastry shop in anytown usa
and last 10 years! you will chicken out ,i guarentee it and we all know very well who is to blame for it ! your ignorent public! thats who..

By tj on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 08:45 pm: Edit

professionaly trained pastry chefs like me , face a very big problem in this country, we all know it, so lets not pretend that ,ho ,gush, may be the public is not ignorent....nonsence.pure nonsence people! wake up ! whats wrong with you ? how long can you say things like "its foolish not to capitalize on highly marketeble items" .so how about you start making hamburger buns for burger king ?ha w.debord? or maybe your perfect wonder bread? it will be a sure winner over baguettes . i never stop wondering how low can things go....eventualy ,if "professionals" like some people on this forum will not be out there ,trying to change things by making them better then ever, standing proudly as chefs not kitchen technitians with a good recipe for carrot cake, driving the profession to its extreems in quality and professionalizm , the end will be inevetable!

By tj on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 08:54 pm: Edit

and believe in me, the public could care less about your "better than supermarket" baked goods.eventualy they will buy from who ever is may have your local small group of followers ,but they will move on , and leave you ampty handed with your better recipe for wonder bread or cake just cant compete with big production all comes down to cost!this is the final frontier.cost.
thank god i am retired and had my working days in a market that actualy wanted my products....

By W.DeBord on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 10:46 pm: Edit

The conversation tj was about people prejudging what they really don't have first hand knowledge of...not trying to convert our whole profession to massed produced food. That's not what I believe in or make! I probably have less manufactored components in my baking then 95% of all pastry chefs. I do use cake mixes on OCCASION as a COMPONENT not a item standing on it's own. They produce a type of cake that is lighter and far more moist than any scratch cake I've ever eaten, even after refridgeration.

Second part (and largest part)of this conversation was about respect and not being rude to others. If you recall I didn't like it when people acted that way to you or when you acted that way to them. I'm not the web master, just a person who enjoys this site and is willing to stand up to people who slam every idea and item they don't personally like or agree with.

By tj on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 11:29 pm: Edit

so by your response i understand that you do not dissagree with my points.
i bring those points cause they matter to me ,and i feel very strongly about the path that the pastry world is going in these days.both here and in europe. the chaine stores are out to get you all ,and put you guys out of work.its a fight to the death, and i hope you see it as i do. it is your job (the young guys out there) to stand up and do your best to bring the marvelouse joys of good quality baking to your customer, and be stuborn about insisting on the best ! hopefully it will bring some change, although i must say, i am pesimistic when i hear of chefs preffering short-cut products for the real thing.
my points are not about being rude, i am here to help you open your eyes to reality...
by the way ,which cake mix make a lighter moister cake then any other scratch cake you hade? (may be its time for pastry school...)

By jeee2 on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 11:44 pm: Edit


<, the public could care less about your "better than supermarket" baked goods.eventualy they will buy from who ever is cheaper.period.<<

exactly my point, we can't compete against machines and the only reason a customer comes into my shop is for individual quality.
I have also noticed a decline in competence in France but then again they are so far ahead it might not matter if it falls a bit.

Regards, Gerard

By tj on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 11:52 pm: Edit

may be not so badly as here in the usa , but you sure see young french kids eat alot of junk ,and its all thanks to the chaine stores .eventualy,the big differance comes from the great pride in the profession that the chefs have in france.when i was a student back in the 60`s (in france) and still today, chefs in france are public figures who are greatly admired, and there work ,greatly apreciated by the public, i cant say the same for the locals here in the usa , they greatly apreciate and admire the cheap prices they pay at the supermarket....and junk is all they get for there $$$....(unfortunatly)

By tj on Sunday, April 09, 2000 - 11:58 pm: Edit

one of the problems is, naturaly, chefs who take short cuts, use mixes, unnatural products and substitutes , can you blame the public? how can they tell the difference between a bad supermarket product and a product they bought at some bakery who makes the same "popular" junk only
"better" .better what ? why not make some real honest good stuff ? why imitate what the supermarket does with all those "moist mixes" ? or may be you "pastry-chefs" dont realy know how to bake ?

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 12:03 am: Edit

Yes tj I do agree with many of your points. I try everyday to make the best product I can. Sometimes I need to take shortcuts and sometimes I feel it's the better route. I never serve a cake straight from the box, I also add to the box mix, never mixing it plain as instructed. I use yellow, devils food and white cake mixes only. I have not ever found scratch cake recipes as versital in my end product as these three are.

Please try these at school, but follow my recipe (because I only stand behind mine)and you must only use the cake layers as a component of a good torte (omit or drasticlly decrease any soaking syrup you use). Match that side by side to your scratch cake making the same torte. Try taste testing the two over time, meaning let them sit in the refrid. for 5 days. Each of the five days take them out and compare how they hold.

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 12:18 am: Edit

White cake:
1 pkg. duncan hienz white cake mix
1 envelop of instant dream whip (found on the baking isle)
4 egg whites
1/2 c. oil
1 c. cold h2o

Mix throughly and DON'T over bake, 350.

Yellow cake:
1 pkg. yellow duncan heinz cake mix
1 4 oz. pkg jello brand instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1 c. h2o
1/2 c. oil

Mix throughly and bake 350.

Devils food:
1 pkg. duncan heinz devils food cake mix
1 pkg. 4oz. jello brand chocolate instant pudding
4 eggs
1 c. h2o
1/2 c. oil
Mix throughly and bake at 350.

You might prefer the swiss chocolate mix it is less intense in flavor.

tj try not to persuede your taste testers opinions. Ideally, don't tell them which cake is which or maybe even what your doing. See if they know? I look forward to reading what they thought.

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 12:26 am: Edit

P.S. tj I was agreeing to your 11:29 post not your more currant posts they weren't present when I wrote my response.

By jeee2 on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 12:28 am: Edit

cake mix, jello mix, pudding mix ?
You are joking right?

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 12:37 am: Edit

Jello brand of instant pudding, no joke. That's what I thought when you told us you frost your wedding cakes in royal icing.

By jeee2 on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 12:37 am: Edit

<<or may be you "pastry-chefs" dont realy know how to bake ? <<

I have long held the belief that lacking basic training in baking disqualifies so called pastry chefs from competence. Among my pastry chef associates in Boston we never hire "pastry chefs" because they most often cannot bake and have merely taken the title without having the training or skill to back it up. Anyonbe can call themself pastry chef but it requires a few yrs under a master, there is no other way.
But this is America and we have the freedom to call ourselves anything. So they do.

But it requires a certain amount of denial to pull it off. Maybe I'll call myself a master carpenter next week.!!

By jeee2 on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 12:43 am: Edit

Go ahead then and use that stuff.
I don't think you know how to make or use royal icing, thats obvious.
I'll say it again, maybe it will sink in, get some professional training and leave the instant mix to the home cooks.
Now I understand your defensive attitude, you have a LOT to defend but its sad.
I hope you get past this phase and get honest about what you're doing.

Regards, Gerard

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 08:02 am: Edit

Honest is understanding why your bakery is failing and needs to sell lunch. Your not remotely in touch with your customer or Americans. You think they are all idiots including the poor people who work for you.

You came to educate and capitolize on the stupid American taste buds... sad is finding out they don't like or want your style of baking.

Thanks for the permission to "go ahead and use that stuff", I don't know what I was going to do if you didn't approve. You haven't stopped to understand I word I've written. Oh well, were all getting use to that.

By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 10:37 am: Edit

please try to explaine to me why there are many good french restaurants over all in the usa, and so few fine bake shops?
i cant figure this out!
why do people rave about jean louis paladin and pay a small fortune for dinning at le cirque , or daniel ,or the french laundry and so many other fine restaurants , and would still look for duncan heinz cakes? its a mistery to me...
as for your recipes....i cant even open the packages of those products you mentioned and not get sick from the the smell of what ever they whant to call vanilla in there.
are you seriouse about not having a scratch made devil food cake that is better then what you curently use?

By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 10:48 am: Edit

and about the "pastry chef" title every body like to adopt so much in the usa, here is a short hypothetical question ...
say you moved to paris to live there, and as a "pastry chef" you are looking for a you open the paper and see an add :a pastry chef needed at - laduree, stohrer, dalloyau, lenotre, la maison du chocolat, gerard mulot, fauchon etc.can you honestly tell me that you will feel confident applying for the position, believing that you can produce for those operations all that they need in there stores on a daily bases?
are you even remotly aware of what the demand of a person who carries the title "pasrty chef" is?

By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:00 am: Edit

i share your feelings on this matter.finding skilled pastry makers is a big problem in the is dificult to run a shop with all the daily problems ,and worst of all have a staff of unstable, untrained people who constantly want a higher sallary.i have been there ,i lost big time, cause i had no idea of the problems that layed before me.i had no idea that there are no pastry chefs freely available to hire ,that i could put my trust in to produce my line of products. eventualy i had to put all my time and energy in training and keeping an eye on my kitchen guys cause the did not know what they were doing...
this was back in 1990 , i hope today you can find alittle better trained people to do fine baking , although it is probebly far from satisfying.especialy when you have to base your line of products on cake mixes ,so your staff have little to screw up...

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:15 am: Edit

All I can do is guess at the answers to your questions tj. When I tell you, you refuse to understand because it is not your opinion and it doesn't seem to make sense to you. You think you're right, and no other explaination or answer will be accepted into your thought pattern.

In a way this reminds me of the arguments parents must have had with their children when they brought home rock n roll records or even rap music today. Your the parent who hasen't given it a honest listen screaming...this new stuff is all garbage. I'm trying to tell you not ALL of the new stuff is trash.

I think your living in the past and not adapting to the future.
You think I'm throwing out the past forsaking the future.
I keep trying to explain we do have a common ground, but you keep rejecting that. How could we ever come to understand each other?

By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:20 am: Edit

what new stuff?
american bakeries are doing new stuff?!
pastry chefs in france are doing new staff ,
american bakeries did not even reached the stone age in comparison.

By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:21 am: Edit

oh wait, i get it...
there are new cake mixes in the market...
thats the new stuff...
silly me ....

By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:24 am: Edit

as for living in the past...
if my 3 years at lenotre in 1987-1990 were living in the past , then i dont know what the past meens any more.could not get more contemporary then that my friend...

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 12:03 pm: Edit

French vs The World again, no thanks. Perhaps I previously did word somethings wrong...there really isn't new stuff, I'll agree. It's more French tastes vs American. You dig your food and we dig ours. tj this is about more than cake mixes. It's about taste in general and the manners to not insist your tastes are the only ones to be followed.

Your living in the US and wanting Americans to be French. As you mention even France is changing, if you went back there how well would you fit in with anyone younger than you? Have you grown too old to be open to new ideas? I think so because you cling so tightly to the past.

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 12:36 pm: Edit

"It's about taste in general and the manners to not insist your tastes are the only ones to be followed OR ALLOWED". When people are bullied then submit, we all take a big step backward.

I didn't like Gerard always slamming opinions that differed from his. It looks like I'm the only one offended, but I have the guts to stand up and say don't be a bully.

By Gord (Gord) on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 01:29 pm: Edit


Your argument "say you moved to paris to live there, and as a "pastry chef" you are looking for a you open the paper and see an add :a pastry chef needed at - laduree, stohrer, dalloyau, lenotre, la maison du chocolat, gerard mulot, fauchon etc.can you honestly tell me that you will feel confident applying for the position, believing that you can produce for those operations all that they need in there stores on a daily bases?" is 100% right...and dead wrong.

If W.Debord moved to Paris to get one of these jobs perhaps she could do things their way. And perhaps not. The point is moot.

The key, though, is that she would be expected to do it that way. It is the way in France. If she went to France and opened her own operation, doing things the way she is now (W.D's American-style bakery), perhaps the business would be a failure. Does this mean the french are unsophisticated louts? Absolutely not. They have different tastes.

Now apply it to America. If a french-trained pastry chef comes here, why should it be expected that an entire population should adapt their palates to what becomes essentially an ethnic cuisine?

"Pastry chef" in your context is not the same as "pastry chef" in the American context, perhaps? But the term is still universally applied, regardless of the ethnicity applied to it. America is, it seems, this huge melting pot of styles, techniques and ethnicities. If one is opening an authentic French (or european or other ethnic culture) bakery, then yes they have a responsibility to be 100% authentic and cater to those who want it.

W.DeBord has never, to my knowlege, stated she is a European-style pastry chef. In the strict arena of European (particularly French) cuisine there are those here who MIGHT bake circles around her.

But it seems to me that as an American pastry chef she has a pretty good handle on supplying that for which there is demand. That means that, rather than being judgemental about whether her customers are "good enough" or "sophisticated enough" she accepts that they are what they are and strives to provide them with the best flavour and quality she can within the context of their tastes.

It is obvious, tj, that you sweat blood for the perfection of your craft (art?). It is obvious you have passion, talent, and long experience. Ultimately, however, there are many ethnicities out there, each with its own tastes. America is one of them. Things are different here. Not better, not worse, just different.

By Nicz (Nicz) on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 01:34 pm: Edit

I have gone through and read almost this entire synapses and I feel the need to add my two cents. First of all, as far as I am concerned, this is my profession, not just my job and everything that I sell goes out with my name on it, so how in the world could I be proud of a cake made from a bag. It's not even something that I put any of my skills into making - the work was already done. Secondly, do you even know what is put into those "bag mixes" - are you really giving your customer a "healthy" product. And if any of you out there say that baked goods aren't healthy anyway, I beg to differ - they are a lot more healthy than many of the other foods americans put in their mouths everyday. I believe that being a professional in any field requires knowing your product inside and out - how do you really know what you are selling your customer if you are using pre-fabricated products. And those of you who think that the public doesn't appreciate made-from-scratch products are wrong. The reason, I believe, why supermarkets do so well is a matter of convience. For that reason, they are hard to compete with, but in my business, I offer to deliver cakes to my customers - they are willing to pay the extra price for a quality product when they don't have to think about it taking time out of their day.


By momoreg on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 01:56 pm: Edit

3 years ago, we had a client request a specific Duncan Hines cake for her anniversary party, and I tried to discourage my boss from selling it, but that was what the lady wanted. Bottom line from a business standpoint was: did my boss want to make the sale? Of course she did, and I understood that. However, I wouldn't choose to make the boxed cakes all the time, because it's not my own product, and I find the texture and flavor of cake mixes to be 'off'.

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 02:02 pm: Edit

Nicole I do believe in scatch cakes and scratch baking, absolutely that's 95% of everything I produce! I do not hide from anyone the fact that I OCCASIONALLY use a cake mix and EVERYTHING goes out with my name on it. Knowing the product inside and out is not possible! Manufactors do not produce a perfectly consist anything. Do you make or buy your almond paste, extracts, purees, stablizers, preserves etc...? We all use some purchased products. There are large companies who make and sell tons of easy prepare products and someone is buying from them. I can list exactly how many "instant" type products I use and believe me I promise my list is FAR FAR shorter than the vast majority of pastry kitchens. I control the taste of my product completely, including when I deside a mix will have no ill affect on the bottom line taste of my product.

Trust me my product is not cheap either, I do produce a very high quality product.

By Gord (Gord) on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 02:24 pm: Edit


I've just come from a farming community and I'll pose your second question (modified) back to you: do you know what is put into those ingredients?

If you're familiar with a product called "Roundup" you'll know that it's used to kill plants - completely. In farming they now use a process known as a pre-harvest Roundup. They spray the ripe wheat, barley, oats, peas, canola etc. to kill the plants. THEN they harvest the consumable part. Then they bale the straw. Nuking the plants provides a greater ease of harvest and facilitates working the field up for the next planting.

Roundup is, allegedly, "safe", although I wouldn't want to drink a cupful of it. And that doesn't begin to touch pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers. Nor does it address how eggs, milk, sugar or any number of other ingredients are produced.

Basically, if you aren't growing it you're not controlling it and therefore the only "safety" or "health" control you have is what you do in your own kitchen (vermin and bug control, food handling, etc.).

As for your first point, well said. Although it may be that being proud of having truly satisfied the customer would, I should think, have merit too.

As for delivery - you seem to say people won't pay more for the quality product if you don't deliver it. Does that mean they see the value in the product, or the delivery service? What would happen if the supermarkets were convenient to order delivery from (at the same reduced price)?

(Having said all that, I don't care for mix or supermarket cakes. But I am going to try W.DeBord's above-posted white cake guidelines for curiosity's sake.)

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 03:43 pm: Edit

What about respecting other peoples opinions? Why doesn't that cross over to into this industry?

Wars are started by peoples' intolerance of others who are different. Do we all really want to live as selfish self-centered beings, never respecting someone elses right to think differently than us?

By Gord (Gord) on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 05:27 pm: Edit


I'm hoping your last note was regarding another posting above, not mine. I do respect your opinion, and others here, which is why I want to try your version.


By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 06:00 pm: Edit

if you are a professional pastry chef you will have no problem taking this position any where in the world.i know, i did it in quite a few countries.the work is ,in most cases based on the same skills you suppose to have as a professional pastry chef, and your excuse about "making it the french way " is insulting and idiotic at the same time. i think you know darn well what i was getting to! if you are not a professional ,all you have left is nothing but excuses ,to compansate for your lack of experience and knowledge.
and as far as "things are different here " ,i know all about different.i worked in saudi arabia for 2 years in mecca ,if some one has different taste is those people over there , but my work was a big success and very well apreciated by them cause they had an open mind about the european style of baking ,even though their traditional baking is a world of difference. i guess thats why lenotre opened up a successful shop over there ,but he failed here in america...

By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 06:17 pm: Edit

plus, i dont know why you always bring this "french vs american" this realy nesesary? what are you so sensitive about? what is this invisible chip on american chefs shoulders? i havent seen this in south america ,asia or the middle east.i feel that my critisizm is well placed and should be considered by the good people of this forum, cause , unlike some of you , i have seen other "worlds", and experienced other cultures, for good and bad, the problem here is the low level of tolerance on your side. why is that? by now , i think you should know my style of conversation. it comes straight from my bulls---ting...

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 06:37 pm: Edit

No, Gord my comment wasen't directed at you. You actually did a good job explaining my position, better than I (thank-you).

I give up like all the rest tj, you'll never understand...

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 06:43 pm: Edit

your right about that, I was a small part of Lenotre failure here in the states. I work with him at one of our projects and he decided to try his own. Unfortuneatly he was bamboozeled by a lot of fast talkers here, buying hydrogen freezers and so forth.
We have to respect what each one of us does. I have worked with Lenotre and Thuries here and I respected both even though I think one is far superior than the other, another topic. I just can't apply alot of those techniques in what I do now. I do not use mixes, but do I?. Due to time constrainghts I premix most of my dry ingredients for cake in garbage cans.I formulate the recipe to suit. Is this a bag mix?
The French restaurants here have spiraled downward, the've adopted this French style concept, hell all you can here in the kitchen is mixers on the line making these a la minute sauces. I don't know! but try not to slam somebody that does not do things the classical way if they have a passion for what they are doing.

By Nicz (Nicz) on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 08:34 pm: Edit

W. DeBord, I understand better now where exactly you stand - I agree that some bag mixes are just fine tasting. Actually, I could eat cupcakes from a grocery store box all day long because that is what I grew up on, but none the less, I don't touch the stuff. If that is what your customer wants though, that is what you must produce in whatever circumstances. There was a bakery in my town for 30 years that just closed and they used the most generic, awful tasting buttercream - mostly shortening, sugar, and water. People ask me for that, as unbelievable as that sounds. And to answer you, Gord, I did not say that people won't buy a quality product if it is not delivered. What I said, is now a days with most mothers working, people are looking for convience. It's hard to have to go to the grocery store, then across town to the bakery, so many people opt to get it all in the same place to save time and sacrifice taste. I was just saying that I allow my customers the choice of not having to use up their time to come and get the cake - I think it helps a little. Also, I totally agree with the whole agricultural point that you made, but I believe that in many of the pre-fabricated products, there are preservatives that are not good for us. Unfortunately, we have no control over produce or dairy, but if we can make a cake that is from scratch and has no more added chemicals or we can make it from a bag that we have no idea what has been put in it, why take the risk? If the general public knew what was really in pre-packaged cookies and breads, etc... they wouldn't be so quick to buy them. I try to be as healthy as I can, but it's hard because of issues that you brought up - you really don't know what has been done to the food you eat before you buy it.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 10:42 pm: Edit

I mentioned this a while ago and got jumped on, but I'm going to try it again.

First, I feel that European-style pastry is of better quality than American inventions. It is up to us as pastry chefs to educate the public. I'm not saying that we should all stick our noses in the air and trash our customers and, most likely, our businesses while we arrogantly "enlighten" the unwashed masses. I'm simply saying that there are definite quality differences between products that anyone can pick out, regardless of how well developed their palate is. Whether the difference in quality is worth the difference in price is a more difficult question to answer.

Let me give a quick example with wine. I realize that wine and pastry are worlds apart, but I think the lesson is instructive. I did a wine tasting for some friends of mine two weeks ago. These were people who have no knowledge of wine, and kind of have an idea that wine labelled "Bourdeax" that comes in a jug with a handle and screwtop isn't very good. I poured four red wines from Bourdeax. I chose this region for convenience in picking out four different quality wines, not because I have a bias for or against French wine. I poured a poor wine that is overpriced at $7.00, a very okay wine at $9.00, a good wine at $13.00, and a Premier Grand Cru at $37.00. Every single person could tell the difference between every wine. This doesn't mean that any of them, or me either, are going to run out and buy bottles of $37.00 wine -- it's worth the money, but requires a special occasion on our budgets. However, they're probably not going to buy the $7.00 or $9.00 bottles either. Relating it back to pastry, I've shifted them away from supermarket products while not making them feel stupid for not previously knowing or appreciating the difference.

My point? It is imperative that we educate the public if we want to survive against the chain stores. In the San Francisco Bay Area where I live, we have farmer's markets everywhere with the most amazing organic produce. When organic produce first came out the farmers lost money because demand wasn't high enough. Now they are starting to educate the public and demand is high enough that supermarkets are selling organic products. Unfortunately, now the farmers can't compete against Safeway's organic produce and they are still losing money. I guess they're in the same boat as us: doing it because they are passionate about it.

Finally, I think people exagerrate when they talk about the supermarket product being crap. I don't think it's crap; I think it is on the lower end of average -- edible, sweet, kind of tasty if you're going to gulp it down and not savor it. It's also a good value for the money. I've tasted pastries from bakeries that didn't have enough of a difference in quality to warrant twice the price of a supermarket product.

By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 10:54 pm: Edit

i promise to try do my best not to slam any one, but you know by now ,that discustions like this one makes me make passionate remarks... but i do try to stay as calm as i can.....
in any case , i look today at what those cake mixes have in them at the store....i have no idea what those words on the ingerdient label ment... a chemistry lab in a me crazy, but in other discution you are passionatly talking about keeping health codes....what about the health of the poor customers?

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:00 pm: Edit

Tj one more time, this can't be said any clearer..."My work was a big success and very well appreciated by them cause they had an open mind about the European style of baking, even though their traditional style of baking is world of difference" those are your words written above this posting.

Think a moment, this is what I'm saying too! "My work is well appreciated by them cause they had an open mind about the American style of baking, even though their traditional style of baking is world of difference".

You want acceptance but don't give it because it's not your traditional style of baking. Can't you see any similarity. I'm saying exactly what you say.

By tj on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:25 pm: Edit

apreciate your work? what style is your work?
i am at a lost ....i dont understand what you reffer to....please explain....i thought you were talking about using cake mixes as part of your style of baking and it not so?
can using mixes be reffered to as "style" of baking?

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:25 pm: Edit

Mikeh I believe I'm making a difference. By providing people with product they love it awakens their interest in baked goods. They love baked good but we've lost their interest thru misunderstanding what they want and giving them what we think they should have. Lead them with sugar, give them what they want, thru that you will have their attention to grow their tastes to better products in time. The problem is we have to work together as an industry and come half way. Come half way to what the customer wants, otherwise we alienate them and put our-selfs out of business.

Tell them what they should like and go out of business. This is the stand too many pastry chefs are taking in the US.

By jeee2 on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:34 pm: Edit

Nicz says,

<It's not even something that I put any of my skills into making - the work was already done.<

If there is no skill to put into the product due to lack of training then bag o' gateaux is a necessity, not a choice.

That is the only reason I opened a bakery, I couldn't live with someone else telling me how to bake ..especially if they couldn't.

By jeee2 on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:37 pm: Edit


<I'd like to be proven wrong to end the debate over cake mixes being ----. <

so , how do you feel about pudding and jello mix cake now, has this changed your way of looking at things?

Cheers, Gerard

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 12:10 am: Edit

What? Did you not follow anything? I'm proud to have delighted customers! I don't bake to please other pastry chefs. I work in a service industry and believe it's my responsiblity and privilege
to provide exactly what my customer wants and they love me for doing that!

By Pam (Pam) on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 12:25 am: Edit

I really wanted to agree with the americans because Gerard & tj have been rude to me,but, I'm really surprised that you would serve pudding mix & dream whip cakes in your country club. That is the kinds of stuff mothers make with their little kids to bring to school or make a b-day cake for daddy...My mother can't cook worth anything but she can make a mix cake. That is not something to be proud of. Why would you want to hold a cake for 5 days anyway? I have worked in great & ok places & have never ever even been asked to use a cake mix. In a way you are not promoting a good product & enlightening people on natural,fresh tasting goods. I always felt that part of my job is to educate the public on new & different tastes than they are used to.That is why I went to school ,to reeducate myself because I never tasted excellent products before. I believe people just need to try something new & they will then crave these new flavors & textures. But if you give them the same old **** they will eat it too. Sorry.

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 01:08 am: Edit

My job demands me to hold some products for 5 days, I do my best to prevent that but...I can't control what comes my way. No one person could possibly meet the amount of work required in my position with-out stretching things or using a freezer sometimes. Some days I have unbelievable short notice of an event, even a large party. Some weeks we don't have a single person eating ala carte at the main house and 1,500 in banquets, yet it has to be there in case of a walk-in. If every item was baked fresh everyday I'd never get much past the ala carte menu to bake for the 1,500. Country Club baking is nothing like bakeries or resturants.

Pam I'd take pride in making tapioca pudding from the box and serving that to 500 people if that's what they REALLY want (although I'd find frustration in that). Sometimes people aren't interested in trying new things. I am in a service business.

By jeee2 on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 01:37 am: Edit


<. I am in a service business.<

don't use excuses like that.
If we catered to the public taste and did what they demand we'd all be making donuts soaked in corn syrup, I exagerate to make the point.

<provide exactly what my customer wants and they love me for doing that<

They pay you for what they cannot do, you have an obligation to fulfill and it cannot be met by using instant pastry chef mix.
Don't worry whether they love you, your mother loves you.

<Sometimes people aren't interested in trying new things.<
Thats a good reason to call it by a familiar name but give them scratch quality, its not the other way round. Pudding mix hiding in a cake is a deception.

500 people might want tapioca but they DON'T expect it from a bleepin box.!

Regards, Gerard

By momoreg on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 06:51 am: Edit

I think it's true people want what they know, but by following that frame of thought, you deprive those that DO know quality. Also, how can you expact ignorance to develop into sophistication by giving them cake mix? I don't think that's a way to enlighten people to what's available to them. Can it be that maybe you simply don't have a great cake recipe?

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 10:04 am: Edit

This is great, look you all have points of view! I'm delighted to read them. I hope along the way you'll stop to consider no point do I or will I stop you from your perspective.

I'm not making any excuses, I'm totally honest. We are just bouncing back and forth small sentences and trying to take them out of context. The points I was making are being lost into a side subject. Who's right when it comes to pleasing MY customers wasen't the topic.

I'm sorry to those of you I have confused! I thought I was being clever using a different thread title to make a point to Gerard. I Should have correctly titled it:
Can't you see how rude it is to interupt a conversation and slam the people and their subject matter? My point being if you don't like something, add to the conversation, don't slam it as ----! Also, that as working professionals we should respect each others opinions even if we dissagree with it.

By jeee2 on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 11:15 am: Edit


You're right, I can seem rude, its not meant as personal its my heavy handed nature, I'm sorry if I made you feel offended but I'm only talking butter eggs and flour...not you.
I'm sure you work your butt off, no-one gets a free ride in the food biz.

OK, I'm off to run a catering gig.

Cheers, Gerard
PS, be nice to tj.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 12:27 pm: Edit

your absolutely right! As I stated in previous threads the main reason I go sctatch is the additives and preservitives, next is the quality,and so on.
I firmly believe in food safety and protecting the customer, this includes chemical addatives.

You'd better keep that damn food HOT!! ha ha

By tj on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 03:34 pm: Edit

ok guys, here is my final thought on this discution.
have you seen papa johns pizza comercial where the guy says proudly: "our sauce was CANNED FRESH" ?
can you believe this? i guess many people sit at home and go:"wow, those guys must make a great pizza if the sauce is FRESH OUT OF THE CAN ..."
unbeliveble! tell you what! ,you want a good pizza go find a shop that bothers to make a good old fassion fresh pizza sauce ,with oregano and garlic for a change, with good fresh crust! thats more excuses!
pizza hut and dominos are also in the food service industry and the customers probebly love them very much.SO, WHO CARES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!can you call what they make a pizza ?

By tj on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 03:42 pm: Edit

and for all of you cake loving people out there, this is for you! i moved my behind to the store today with a pen and paper and copied just for you what some of the FINE ingredients are in one of w.debord`s cake mixes . are you ready? ok ,:
(sugar,bleached flour,hydrogeneted vegetable oil,corn starch,dextrose,modified tapioca starch,baking powder) ,propylene glycol, mono and diesters of fatty acids, mono and diglicerides,salt ,sodium prypophosphate, calcium acetate, artificial flavors,cellulose gum, xanthan gum,polysorbate 60,soy lecitine,colors...
sound good ha?
bon apetit every one!

By d. on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 06:49 pm: Edit

W., I feel that this thread has gotten off track or maybe I'm just too confused. If your clients want cake mix, give them cake mix. It's great if you can educate their palates, but if they still want cake mix, so be it. And if your pressured for time and are understaffed, I can see where a mix would come in handy.
When I made that devil's food cake sample(choc. mayo thread), I went at great lengths to produce a delicious scratch cake, but after 4 samples it was clearly obvious the client was used to supermarket type cakes. If she had asked me to use a mix I would, but she's decided to get the cake somewhere else.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 09:36 pm: Edit

Sounds like things have calmed down a bit, but I've been on vacation, so even if it's a little late, here's my two cents....
I've been on record before here as one who also uses cake mixes. We serve many types of customers in a large banquet/restaurant facility. There are some who will pay $8 for a fine plated every element absolutely from scratch dessert, and some who want sheet cake that tastes like their moms (and most moms make mixes) for 500. It is my responsibility to provide both. I'm not going to tell them what they can and can't have. I do my absolute best every day to provide a product that surpasses the customers expectations in quality and value. I think understanding the customers expectations is the most important thing for success. If you don't even know what they want, you can't provide it and then you don't even have an opportunity to educate them about anything. A happy banquet client is alot more likely to come back and eat in the restaurant and try one of those $8 desserts. I am also proud of being able to serve all types of customers - and make money at it!

Gerard - I think you have been rather rude and heavy handed, as you put it, and you weren't just "talking about flour and eggs", you made some very personal statements against W.DeBords abilitites. I don't think any one of us has enough first hand knowledge about any other posters' actual abilities to make statements about their competence in their job.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - this is a unique environment and we must be more careful how we express ourselves here than in a face to face conversation if we want to have a truly productive discussion. I'm not asking anyone to walk on eggshells, but after sitting here reading this whole thread, it's clear that alot of time is wasted. Everyone's ideas and opinions are a good thing, but there is never a need to direct negative remarks against other individuals.

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 10:02 pm: Edit

Thank-you very much Ramodeo and d. for actually understanding what I'm saying, O.K. so where were you twenty posts ago? Just Kidding....

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 10:10 pm: Edit

Actually, I was on a cruise ship in the Carribean.... ;-)

By jeee2 on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 08:41 am: Edit


<<I've been on record before here as one who also uses cake mixes. <<


<there is never a need to direct negative remarks against other individuals. <<

I don't suppose theres a connection there for your taking other peoples personal inventory is there?
Using cake mix =is= a joke, take it personal if you want but its meant as a professional slam.

Cheers, Gerard

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 09:05 am: Edit

Gerard I have tried to keep this conversation on track not letting you side line any issues when you constantly made UNFOUNDED personal attacks against me and my skills. Over and over you tried to "teach" me to be tough, stupid girl "this isn't personal". Your fooling your-self if you think you didn't do that!


You don't own a clue and I'm certain you won't even understand a word I've written. Your looking like a feeble old chef.

I would you like to pose this question to the rest of the people here are this site,the issue of cake mixes aside please. Who here thought that Gerard and tj both went over the professional line attacking me personally, that didn't and shouldn't be done to another as professional to professional?

By jeee2 on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 09:19 am: Edit

Ok go the witch hunt way if you must, it might work. It hasn't worked yet but you have tried repeatedly.

cake mix is crap, you I don't know , never metcha and have no opinion one way or the other.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 10:04 am: Edit

No, nice try to back track! YOU HAVE BEEN SO "IN MY FACE" WITH YOUR PERSONAL OPINION OF MY PROFESSIONAL ABILITIES!!!!!!! That has NOTHING to do with a conversation about cake mixes!

I have always thought/tried to take the high road and only talk business. I can think of only one time earlier when I did remark about the reasons I believed your business would be having trouble. I do admit I did loose it for a breif moment, after I became outraged at your personal attack of my abilities. I don't like to have any of this conversation. But it's reached a point where you NEED TO UNDERSTAND what your saying at times is EXTEMELY UNPROFESSIONAL AND YOU ATTACK PEOPLE PERSONALLY! Since you will not listen to someone who "uses cakes mixes" I was wondering if you would listen to people who understand your point about mixes and begin to understand.

By Kathyf (Kathyf) on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 10:09 am: Edit

Gerard and tj were and I'm sure still are extremely rude. Makes me wonder what their problem really is.

I think Gerard enjoys seeing how far he can push you, W.DeBord. Keep pushing back!

I think tj drank too many cigarette ashes.

Gerard - In another thread you said you have to be adaptive. Do you ever listen to yourself?

Gord - Great comparison on the 4-10 1:29 post. Too bad it didn't sink in to Gerard and tj.

By jeee2 on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 12:43 pm: Edit

Actually you became outraged at my pointing out your lack of ability to make a better cake than box and lack of training, I think it goes hand in hand.
If you think you have been attacked PERSONALLY then you have an obligation to cut and paste the text and give it to George.
Boxed cake is crap is not a personal insult, your taking it personal is your problem.

If you HAVE to use mixes then "you go girl" but don't expect me to accomodate the practice.
I wasn't insulted by anything you said, actually the bakery is fine its me who's fed up of working like a dog , so catering is a logical step.
Feeble old chef isn't insulting either but you're telling me more about yourself than I care to know.

By George (George) on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 01:08 pm: Edit

Enough is enough.

End of thread.

Lets keep it to a baking discussion, I'd hate to have to make the a moderated forum, what a PITA.


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