Monday, 20 May 2013

Bake Sale Madness: Raising Funds for Christian Aid

Last Thursday, my church hosted a coffee morning bake sale in support of Christian Aid Week. It was moderately successful, as successful as a coffee morning can ever be in a city where the Protestant community is very small. We made a few hundred euro, which is a few hundred Christian Aid didn't have before last Thursday!

I love bake sales and church fetes. The spectacle of a table laden with all kinds of baked lovely things is genuinely a sight for sore eyes, and there’s something deeply pleasing about watching folk munch away on cakes and biscuits and drinking tea. Then again, I may just be a born entertainer; the feeding and hosting kind of entertainer, not the face-paint and black spandex kind of entertainer. The aforementioned sight of cake consumption is made even better knowing that the proceeds are going to charity!

But  hosting a bake sale comes with a bit of a crisis: how much do I make? What do people like? What will I make? Oh, the confusion! Do not let your hearts be troubled. Here’s some tips.

  • Personally, I’ve found that variety bests quantity at bake sales: people like a selection of things, and one batch of everything seems to work, as opposed to several batches of the same thing. When there’s a variety, people like to have a little of everything and this means a little of everything will be worn away by everyone. If you make loads of the same thing, people will take a little and be happy with that; also, some people might not like that one thing of which you made loads.
  • As for what people like and what to make, this is even trickier, but I’ve found three things always go down a treat: chocolate, biscuits, and cake that’s in small form, whether fairy cakes or sliced cakes.
  • Always make things that you would eat yourself. If you make a load of stuff that you wouldn’t eat, or that no-one in your household will eat, what happens when you have leftovers that have to follow you home? If you make things you like, taking home leftovers won’t ever be a problem (unless you’re on a diet, then it will be).
  • Beware of exotic flavours! I always have to rein myself in when it comes to cooking things for a bake sale, because – as I’m sure you all know already – I like being experimental with flavours. Sometimes, the flavour combinations are a real smash, other times not so much.
  • Similarly, mind how dark your chocolate is. Everyone likes chocolate, men and women and children alike, but a tip to bear in mind when it comes to chocolate is that not everyone likes the same intensity or darkness of chocolate. Steer away from making things too dark or bitter: use milk chocolate.

Last time I did a bake sale, I made ginger brownies, caramel coffee slices, and stained glass gingerbread biscuits. I assumed the coffee cake would be more popular, however, the brownies were all gone within the first twenty minutes, and I had to bring some of the coffee slices home with me at the end of the day. I expected that people would punch the candy middles out of the stained glass biscuits, and I was right; the gingerbread biscuits were all eaten, though.

The time before, I made traditional treacle gingerbread (the cakey-tea-bread kind) and mini butterscotch meringue tarts; they both went down very, very well, even though the gingerbread was very rich and spicy. I’m quite stubborn: I don’t like resorting to cupcakes. Not that I mean any disrespect to cupcakes, but sometimes people can rely on them as a lazy crowd pleaser if they’ve left baking to the last minute. I apologise for my snobbery: when cupcakes are done well, with the love and effort they deserve, they are fantastic!

This time, my culinary endeavours are:
  • Coconut Custard creams
  • Orange Bourbon creams
  • Mint Toffee cake

Once again, I’m not shying away from flavour. The ginger brownies will be making a reappearance, as they were so popular the last time, and I’ll also be making some iced gingerbread hearts.

I’ll be getting the next few blogs’ worth of material out of this one day. Not bad! Recipes for all the deliciousnesses will be uploaded over the next few days!

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