I just read an amazing write-up of a common complaint of scratch cakes - that they are dry. Jump over to the blog at Amanda Oakleaf Cakes (just click here) and read her analysis of "dry" scratch cakes. It will open your eyes!
Did you all know that many, if not most, bakeries and bakers use box mixes to make their cakes? This was a surprise to me when I started baking and decorating cakes. I have used a box in the past, before I really started reading and learning about cakes and cake recipe creation, but I very much prefer scratch cakes and ALWAYS bake from scratch now. And I use the highest quality ingredients that I know of and can get my hands on. Yes it costs a little more. Yes it's not as convenient. Yes it's a million times better and better for you. Box cakes are loaded with chemical preservatives and additives and oil. That is why they are so predictable. And why many bakers choose to use them.
But I truly believe that if you want to, anyone can make a good, consistent cake from scratch. You just have to learn the rules, which aren't really too hard, and pay attention to your ingredients (measuring and quality). Easy peasy!
The same idea goes into icing. Scratch is usually better. And usually not as difficult or scary as you think!
Oh, and while you are reading all about this on Amanda's blog, take a look at her cakes. They are truly, truly amazing. I cannot say enough about them! These are the cakes I aspire to! So, take your time and click through all of them. Enjoy the fabulous eye-candy that you see there! :)