Baking with box mixes

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When I was younger, box mixes were my introduction into baking, and really got me into baking as a hobby. Since then, I’ve gotten more adventurous and have graduated to baking things from scratch. I think finding Pinterest also helped with this hobby, since I could find a recipe for pretty much anything that I ever wanted to bake. And recipes on Pinterest are usually from blogs, where the bakers/writers talk about the recipes they’re sharing and give helpful tips and tricks. There are also always pictures, sometimes step by step throughout the recipe. As much as I love cookbooks, they aren’t always the most instructive or helpful, and sometimes they don’t have any pictures at all. So with Pinterest, not only am I able to experiment and bake a variety of things, but I get the most out of the experiences and help of other bakers/bloggers.

(As I’m writing this, I realize that my baking blog posts are never as nice as others that I’ve found on Pinterest. Particularly, I usually only every have one picture. I’ll have to work on this in the future….)

But with that interlude and history of my baking experience out of the way, I want to talk about using box mixes. Particularly, using box mixes even though you are more than able to bake something from scratch. I always feel a little bit weird about using a box mix now, like I haven’t really done the required amount of work, and I can’t really take the credit for baking. As if just because I can bake something from scratch, I should no longer be able to use a box mix.

This begs the question of what the purpose of a box mix is. Is it an easy way for people to bake who haven’t baked before or aren’t skilled bakers? Or is it a quick and easy way to make something tasty for when you don’t have time to bake from scratch (because it sure does take so much longer than using a box mix)?

I’ll admit that a lot of box mixes don’t usually have quite the same quality as a recipe that you can bake from scratch, they’re still pretty good. In particular, I tried a gingerbread box mix from Trader Joe’s (pictured above and linked below, in case anyone is interested), and it turned out surprisingly well. Nice and spicy, and the cake was very moist, which can be hard to achieve even when you’re baking from scratch. And it was really helpful to have something quick and easy to make when I had a limited amount of time before going to hang out with some friends.

What do you think? Especially for any bakers out there, do you still use a box mix on occasion, or is it from scratch or nothing? Let me know in the comments.

Happy baking!

Alyss

(photo courtesy of Trader Joe’s)

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Honey Beer Bread

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Here’s the link to the recipe, from Gimme Some Oven.

This was my first year making a Thanksgiving meal (up til now, I’ve only ever helped or made a certain dish or dessert), and at the last minute I was looking for a good bread recipe that I could make with ingredients on hand. So I turned to Pinterest, like you do, and found this recipe.

I’ve made bread with beer before, and enjoyed it, so I had high hopes for this bread. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Not only is this bread easy to make, but it’s also a really nice combination of flavors. It’s nice and bready from the beer, buttery from the melted butter used, and slightly sweet from the honey. It’s also a really moist and dense bread, which I appreciated. It didn’t need any butter or spread of any kind. It’s good all on its own.

This is one of those mix-it-all-up-and-bake type recipes that’s really simple to whip up. The weirdest part of the recipe is the fact that it calls for you to not only grease the pan with melted butter, but also pour some over the batter before baking. I was a little skeptical about this, since I’m used to putting butter on bread after it’s been baked rather than before. But it really turned out good. The melted butter essentially just gives the bread more of a buttery crust. I might try using a little bit less melted butter next time, but it definitely wasn’t the worst thing ever.

I recommend trying out this recipe. It was good with our Thanksgiving meal, but I’m sure it would be great with soup too. If you do try it, let me know in the comments how it worked out.

Happy baking!

Alyss

(photo courtesy of Gimme Some Oven, at the link above)