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Do cakes have to be from-scratch to qualify as gourmet?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
DISCLAIMER: This is not a scratch vs mix thread please.

I'm in pastry school, and I overheard a fellow classmate describing her future plans for a fancy, gourmet cupcake shop. Then she says, "I don't want to bake from scratch though, baking from scratch is so ugh, too much trouble." That got me thinking, doesn't gourmet imply that it's made skillfully from-scratch?

What exactly qualifies as a "gourmet" cake?
post #2 of 22
Just to add fuel to the fire - why would someone train to be a pastry chef if they thought scratch baking was 'like so ugh - too much trouble'?
post #3 of 22
Hmmm , I don't think I would be buying from her Gore-Met establishment .
post #4 of 22
Firstly, I think people need to understand that the term gourmet is actually a noun which means a connoisseur of fine food and drink. Since there isn't really an official or traditional definition for it as an adjective, most people take it to mean "better than," or "exceptionally tasty." So to me, the term gourmet is subjective. What one person might consider gourmet is another person's McDonald's. For example, I know there are people in my area who think that Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse is fine dining.

There is actually a 300+ page thread on this forum about "gourmet" flavors which are based on box mixes.

So to answer your question, gourmet could mean many things to many different people.

Interesting read:

http://www.illinoistimes.com/Springfield/article-6109-blurring-the-meaning-of-delicious-words.html
post #5 of 22
Per Annie's excellent explanation, as the food trend continues to hyper-grow, words are used and mis-used. (My pet peeve is the use of "literally" as when I heard a food show person say "everyone literally inhaled the fudge tart." Which would likely have killed them all, since lungs cannot survive a heavy blast of tart.)

Godot, I'm an adjunct instructor at the Culinary Institute and I've seen that most students are truly dedicated to earning a degree, but they each arrive at school with a preconceived idea of what it means to have a food career. Hopefully the young girl vgcea overheard will learn along the way that there's more to cupcakes than "too much trouble."

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post #6 of 22
Quote:
Quote:

lungs cannot survive a heavy blast of tart



Bwahahahaha! Love it!
post #7 of 22
I think in this case a "gourmet" cupcake shop would be one that offers more than just chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. They would offer filled cupcakes, unusual flavors, more than just frosting on the top. Sometimes when I think of gourmet cupcakes I think of cupcakes that could be served just as a dessert and not for a celebration. Like German Chocolate cupcakes, Black Forest drizzled with chocolate ganache, Key Lime Cupcakes. Get my drift? And all of those could be made with a box mix as a base.
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"Focus on what you share in common, learn from what makes you different, support each other through struggles, and celebrate each others' success."

Check out my buttercream rose tutorial!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGa5j46Z05c
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post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

Quote:
Quote:

lungs cannot survive a heavy blast of tart



Bwahahahaha! Love it!



I second the Bwahahahahaha! You are likely right, I am certain they cannot.
Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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post #9 of 22
I also wonder about the person who's in a culinary program but thinks it's too hard to bake from scratch... icon_wink.gifthumbsdown.gif
post #10 of 22
How strange from someone in pastry school icon_confused.gif imo, assuming the word gourmet to describe high end, more refined kinda cupcakes then yes, I would expect them to be made from scratch.
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"Taste your words before you feed them to people."
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post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Godot

Just to add fuel to the fire - why would someone train to be a pastry chef if they thought scratch baking was 'like so ugh - too much trouble'?



Good question! Unfortunately even some of the pastry chefs I've met tout how great and "easy" using the mix is and encourage its use. It's like they're too lazy to teach the real thing.

Thanks for the responses and the laughs everyone.
post #12 of 22
I'm consider myself an amateur decorator but I pride myself in baking from scratch I believe it has to taste better than it looks, also I have tried gourmet cupcakes and you can taste that they are not ' homemade' they have a synthetic taste .. I was shocked when one of my 1st potential customers asked me if I bake from scratch I was rather offended in fact but soon realized that many people get the box mix.. A bit of a cheat, no??
post #13 of 22
We have several local cupcakes bakeries in town and I've tried almost all of them. One day I went to one and immediately I could tell they were from a mix and used A LOT of Crisco in the frosting -- both things I don't really like to eat, as I prefer butter cakes from scratch with all butter frosting. But they did have several flavors, including Cinnamon Roll, Strawberry, Margarita, etc. These are flavors you don't expect from a grocery store, so I do think they qualify as gourmet. However, I also think cakes made from scratch with quality ingredients also qualify as gourmet, even if they just offer basic flavors because it's also something a grocery store isn't offering.
post #14 of 22
i could not agree more.. ithink cakes made with high quality ing. certainly has to qualify as gourtmet the proof is in the taste.. luv it!!
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

Firstly, I think people need to understand that the term gourmet is actually a noun which means a connoisseur of fine food and drink. Since there isn't really an official or traditional definition for it as an adjective, most people take it to mean "better than," or "exceptionally tasty."



Pardon my nitpicking, but actually, there is such a definition.
http://www.onelook.com/?w=gourmet&ls=a
http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/american/gourmet#gourmet_3

Other than that, I do agree with what Annie has to say.

My take on it is that it's not what you start with, that makes a food product "gourmet"; it is what you end up with. (Indeed, that is the lesson we take away from Chopped.

There have been people on Fountain Pen Network who are shocked that when I make dressing for a turkey, I start with a box of Mrs. Cubbison's dressing crumbs, rather than a loaf of some artisan bread. They equate Mrs. Cubbisons (which is no more a "mix" than a box of Panko crumbs is; it's simply dried crumbs of purpose-baked seasoned bread) with such vile convenience foods as "StoveTop"

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James H. H. Lampert
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Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

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