Friday, March 26, 2010

Do you want the LONG or short version?

My husband gave me a delightful cookbook, Bakewise, for Christmas to go along with the cake decorating classes he gave me. I'm beginning to think it was secretly a present for himself though because I make him eat everything I bake out of it and nothing out of this cookbook has been good for teaching moderation. It's a true test of wills to only eat one serving of any of those recipes. The catch? The author really knows how to cook. I'm learning, but I still follow recipes pretty closely. I listen to what they say because the chemistry behind cooking is a bit fuzzy to me. I have no idea why egg yolk ruins any potential egg whites have for whipping, I just know from experience that one tiny drop of yolk will ruin an ENTIRE batch. Well, she does know. And because of that, her recipes are extensive.

All that said, I decided to put this book to the test. If I was going to slave an hour over one recipe, it had better be worth it. I printed off my favorite cake mix banana bread recipe from (love that site!), spent about 5-10 minutes doing prep work, threw it in the oven and it came out beautifully.

Then came the hour long ordeal of roasting the pecans chopped in butter and salt, whipping cream, and baking the bread on a baking stone in the oven. I was a little miffed when it all came out of the oven looking just about the same.

Take a look at the picture below. Can you guess which one is the easy recipe that calls for little more than bananas and a cake mix, and which one required an hour of my life?

Me either. So I decided to make guinea pigs out of the males in my house that evening. My husband and his bff (best friends forever, but in a very manly way) agreed to taste test and see if they could tell the difference. These are Texas men. They know their way around a good banana bread. Surely they would be able to tell, right?

Nope. Neither one of them got it right.

If we hadn't all taken second bites, the precious labor intensive cookbook might have never been opened again. All that work, and you couldn't taste the difference?! But we did take second bites. And third, and fourth... Oh dear, that banana bread is delicious. After a few days, the two from scratch loaves had been completely devoured and the mix recipe loaves remained.

You'll have to buy the book for yourself to try the recipes (copyright issues and all, I don't want to post it here), but you can find it here on Amazon. (And, no, I don't know the author. I'm pretty sure we're not in the same cooking leagues, but I still recommend her book.)

So did you guess right? Which one did you think was the easy-peasy one? Here's the answer:

Easy-peasy one left; Bakewise version to the right

Your turn! Have your own taste test! Find your grandmother's impossible four layer cake from scratch recipe and give it a run for its money with a box cake mix and tub frosting recipe. If you do, send me an email ( or comment here with your results. Just don't tell dear grandma if her recipe loses out to Betty Crocker.

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