I love the phrase-from scratch. What it usually refers to in baking is when you make a cake or cookie recipe with the bare basics not a mix of any kind. It usually requires a little extra effort too.
You take butter, flour, sugar, baking soda, etc and mix it together to form something that will end up as a handmade cake, cookie or bread loaf. Their is a certain 'science' involved in baking from scratch. I feel good when I make something this way- it's pure and basic and an added sense of pride about what was made.
All my baked goods for sale are made from scratch except one recipe that I begin with a 'mix'. I always add the very best butter and freshest eggs and milk or cream to it. Once in a while if I am in a rush and we are having company or the kids need something for their lunch I might start something from a box.
They're some really good recipes where you begin with a 'box' too it's just as a baker I feel I've 'cheated' a little if I use a box to get the recipe started.
In my baking class we made all our treats from scratch except for the very last night. We were trying to conserve time because we were planning a party at the end of the evening and I also thought it would be fun to show them that sometimes it's worth it to start with a box mix like the tasty Chocolate Almond Biscotti we made that night started from a simple brownie mix. That recipe makes up for it in the extra time needed to bake the Biscotti twice then melt and drizzle the chocolate.
They're other things we do 'from scratch' too. Like my husband and I started our family 'from scratch'. We moved across country and started a new life here 'from scratch' after being away for ten years. And I started my baking business 'from scratch'.
Doing something (anything) from scratch implies that little extra effort or attention that turns something from just OK to extra-ordinary.
It's raining on the Cape. I am going to make Hazelnut Shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate today (from scratch).