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Giving some clarity to baking for charity

You got the Look, you got the hook, 'U sure nuff do be cookin in my book'*

Presentation is key to get the most money you can for any one item, food manufacturers spend millions on branding and packaging for this reason, otherwise we'd all just be buying everything in brown paper bags. However, we can get 'a look' without spending much at all.

picture of a girl selling cakes on a stall

I'm sure you are reading this thinking 'Is it really worth it?' Yes! I have nearly doubled previous takings with less customers by getting this right.

Firstly, and I can't stress this enough, you need to know what everything is to be able to sell it. Sounds so basically silly doesn't it? But I've had lots of cakes dropped off at busy stalls by anxious bakers, they disappear into the crowds and we are left trying to determine the flavour. How much would you pay for a 'Pot Luck' cake? Not much eh? If you are baking make sure you have let the stall know what flavour the cake is and its contents. Even if you just put a post it note on it.

From an organisers point of view prices and labels on toothpicks are brilliant! You can do fancy ones well before any event, then when you do receive the last minute donations you can pop a label on immediately, this enables you to sell the cake for the maximum you can, after all it's all about getting the best return for your chosen charity.

These were a joint effort from Nini Vanilli and the Future Mrs Hollywood. I bought cupcake cases that came with some toothpick flags from The Pound Shop, I printed the labels and the two very talented arty ladies made them into these with some cheap pink table covering (£4.99 for 8m x 1m) They also used this table covering cut in half to make a table runner, I cut oblongs out of it to line trays and make 'packaging' both enlisting the magical doily, doesn't everything look pretty on a doily? I've made bunting using this paper table covering and layering it with cut up doilies before and it's very effective.

A bake proving really popular is the 'Ice Cream' cake. These are sponges baked in flat bottomed ice cream cones and then decorated with buttercream, sprinkles and a flake to make them look just like ice creams, delicious, showy and easy. Transporting and effectively displaying them is made easier by using egg boxes with the lids cut off. As egg boxes don't look that pretty spread out a paper serviette and poke it down into the cups before placing the cakes in there.

If you would like to see a step by step on making these to Xanthe Milton's recipe from her fabulously titled book, Eat Me, then see this link here.

If you know before the event what cakes are being donated you can do the labels accordingly, however, it's worth having a few of each of these for the day:

Also worth having price labels as well as A4 pricing sheets, don't put the prices on the front of the table otherwise as soon as someone walks up to it they can't see it.

The other advantage of having prices on toothpicks is that you can price up very quickly, and change them quickly if you need to. If you think you've got it wrong, or if getting close to the end of your day you want to discount prices, you can easily.

Trays, plates and copier box lids

If you are donating cakes, biscuits or cupcakes don't give it on your best china, you need to be thinking of whoever buys it and how they get it home, paper/disposable plates are best. Everything can be dressed up with a doily, label, wrap etc. See above.

At one cake sale two of my lovely generous friends, Maverick and Jessica Rabbit (aka Kaz and Steph) turned up to donate some cakes, the cupcakes were in the lid of copier paper box, GENIUS, easy to transport and the box lid was tall enough that cling film could be put over it without sticking in, or squashing the buttercream/icing. I have copied this (please excuse the pun) and now save them from the office for stalls, thanks ladies.

*Sue 'The Future Mrs Hollywood' Jefferies pointed out that some people might not share our excellent taste in music, if you need to know where this lyric came from the little purple fella can be found singing it here.

pictures of Fiona Frost baking and cakes and friends