Yes, it's from scratch, and yes, you'll taste the difference.
I read an article in a magazine recently that assured cake decorators that they didn't really need to understand what makes one cake recipe better than another, because they're decorators, not bakers. The author referred to snobby pastry chefs and dismissed their skills as unnecessary. Well, call me crazy, but it was my understanding that people generally want to eat the cake, too, not just look at it. Wouldn't that require a certain understanding of how to bake?
I am tired of food lowlitists. I am tired of people saying "nobody can tell the difference anyway" when we talk about scratch baking vs. mixes. (I sure can and I know I'm not the only person who can.) I am tired of people calling me a snob because I know how to bake and understand the chemistry of it. And I'm really tired of the idea that there's no difference between scratch baking and things like Twinkies, Ho-hos and the 99 cent cupcakes that Dunkin Donuts is now selling.
Now let me be clear. I DON'T CARE what other people do in their businesses. That's right, I don't care. I don't care if you use cake mix, and I don't care if you have no idea how to bake from scratch. What I do care about is the convoluted rationalization that using mixes is the same as baking from scratch, and that clients don't need to know if they do ask. (I also care about people lying to customers, but that's a topic for a different post.)
I didn't coin the term "lowlitist", but I think that it applies here. It refers to someone who denigrates anyone who has any type of education regarding whatever subject they feel inferior in. By claiming that people who have knowledge and/or skills are just snobs, and that the "common people" are the ones who are truly authentic, they make themselves feel better and eliminate their own need to actually learn something and maybe gain a skill in the process. Food lowlitists are the people who argue that Olive Garden is the same as a restaurant in Rome, or that a box of Steak-Ums is good enough for them so if you prefer sirloin you're just a snob.
I do think that scratch baking by someone who knows how to bake is better than cake mix. That is my opinion. But it is a skill, and you do have to know what you're doing, and that seems to be what offends people for some reason. You can't just toss everything into a bowl and bake it, there are techniques involved. The lowlitists prefer to not try, so it's easier to say that the people who do know how to bake are snobs and dismiss them. It's much easier on the ego.
Does this kind of lowlitism exist in other areas of the culinary arts? I don't know, but if anyone has any insight I'd love to hear it. In the meantime, I'm going to go bake a spice cake with amaretto Italian meringue buttercream. From scratch, because I know how to.