How to bake for a cake sale

Make sure your offering stands out amongst the schoolyard spread with our transportation tips and expert finishing touches

Spotty Pudsey cake

Fundraise for a charity or good cause while showing off your baking flair - the ever-popular bake sale is a winner all-round. To make your cake stand out among the tufts of buttercream and colourful sprinkles, we have some suggestions for creating showstoppers with minimal hassle.

Mallow cakeBatch cook

Our food editor Caroline suggests making large items that will feed plenty of people - cookies, traybakes and loaf cakes all tick the right box.

Traybake sponges are often easy to mix and simple to slice and transport. Keep decoration simple with sprinkles of flaked almonds, dessicated coconut or chocolate chips to add some subtle style without unnecessary theatrics.

Don’t forget about flapjacks - they may not constitute a cake, but they’re always a crowd-pleaser. Once you have a simple base of butter and oats, try adding dried fruit like cranberries, blueberries or apricots, crunchy seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower and touches of spice - ginger works well. Get creative with toppings - drizzles of chocolate or layers of caramel should do the trick.

Madeira loaf cakeSimple loaf cakes like madeira will allow you to play around with different icings, or try classic malt loaf with a twist or even a chunky asparagus and olive loaf - those with a savoury preference needn’t be neglected.

Cookies and biscuits are often simple and thrifty, plus they stack in neat piles during transit. Some of our favourite cookie recipes include simple custard and white chocolate biscuits, textured blueberry pretzel cookies and child-friendly jammy heart drops. Try your hand at flood icing, or add writing icing according to the event.

Lemon drizzle cakeGet ahead

Avoid cakes and bakes that are best served soon after leaving the oven - Victoria sandwiches and scones are best made on the day, so unless you have lots of time it’s sensible to save them for another occasion. Caroline suggests drizzle cakes, brownies, fruitcake or parkin.

If you’re super-organised, you can make your bake in advance by choosing a recipe that’s freezable. The base of these caramel button cupcakes can be made ahead and stashed in the freezer. All you need to do on the day is defrost the sponges and add a cream cheese frosting. Or keep it really simple with this freezer-friendly apple crumble loaf.

Blackcurrant bakewellGo easy

Think about the transportation process before you tie on the apron. Traybake biscuits and cakes can be cooled in the tin, covered up, then cut on arrival - just make sure you line and grease the tray well.

Caroline says it’s worth investing in a good cake box or decent-sized Tupperware. Be careful not to ruin your creations when piling them into boxes- un-iced cakes can be stacked between parchment, but iced cupcakes will need to be arranged in a single layer or placed in a disposable cupcake box - these are available online, or you could ask your local bakery nicely.

CupcakesTheme your bakes

Consider the event you’re catering for, whether you’re supplying bakes for a festive fate or national occasion. We have a really good selection of Children in Need cakes design by celebrity chefs, including Raymond Blanc, Michel Roux Jr, Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett. Or, go all out with our spotty Pudsey cake - the rainbow sprinkles in the batter add some pizzazz.

BBC Children in Need cupcakes designed by Gary Rhodes, Angela Hartnett, Ainsley Harriott and Anjum Anand.

BBC Children in Need cupcakes decorated by Gordon Ramsay, John Torode, James Martin and Jane Asher.

BBC Children in Need cupcakes designed by Sophie Grigson, Raymond Blanc and Lesley Waters.

BBC Children in Need cupcakes designed by top chefs Michel Roux Jr, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Marcus Wareing.

Think about colour schemes - we created a series of bakes with red details for Comic Relief. These dotty banana fairy cakes and cherry mallow traybake both use glace cherries and icing balls to great effect - there’s nothing like an edible red nose!

Giant jaffa orange cakeBranch out

Get creative with something a little off-piste. We’ve selected some of our favourite alternative bakes:

More top tips:

- Name it

Keep track of your kit by adding name stickers - cake sales can get hectic as everyone scrambles to get their bake on the table, so be careful to ensure your Tupperware doesn’t go astray. This is where disposable cake boxes come in handy.

- Label it

Consider those with allergies by letting people know what they’re eating. Include key information such as ‘contains nuts’, or try baking with alternative flours and ingredients. We have a selection of gluten-free bakes that taste great whether you’re following a special diet or not.

- How to price it

As a general rule of thumb, your donation is the cost of the ingredients so anything you make on the cake sale goes straight to the good cause. To keep things simple price a decent slice of cake at £1 and single biscuits and cupcakes at 50p each.

- To make or to buy? 

If you can’t bake anything just donate what you would have spent on ingredients - don’t be tempted to buy something and pass it off as homemade. It’s unfair on those who’ve been up all night baking. If you’re really stuck for time. Scott Mill’s crispy chocolate cakes are perfect – ready in just 30 mins!

- Added extras

If you use one of the recipes from make sure you print out a stack of copies to give out so your customers can make your bakes at home too.

Bring napkins, paper plates and forks if you’re serving cakes straight away or a roll of foodbags or boxes for takeout. You could also ask local cafes and coffee shops to donate a stack of napkins or disposable cutlery to help you, and try serving free teas, coffees or cold drinks to go with your bakes.

We have even more cake sale recipes in our collection, or try looking through our expansive cakes and baking section.

Have you had any cake sale successes or disasters? We'd love to hear your stories... 

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