I have learned this the hard way. Every time I have tried to shortcut the process it just doesn't turn out. Good cake takes 3 bowls.
Growing up in a home where there was no granulated sugar- we used honey or real maple syrup in all our baking- imagine those cookies.... Real butter, honey and whole wheat flour with carob chips. Imagine the FLATTEST cookie you have ever seen and that's what we gobbled up.
So I have learned to improvise in my cooking- trying to get that really delicious flavor from REAL foods like butter, sour cream, and good grains while still getting a nice looking and yummy product. Maybe someday I will live the dream of cooking school but for now my test kitchen is just my own.