How to win at the school cake stall

Forget the Great British Bake Off; the school cake stall is where reputations are forged and destroyed. Here's how to cement your position as a PTA stalwart and make the school plenty of money to boot...

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1. Make the right kind of cake

"Check what sells. It's very dependent on the school, so check at school not on MN. At our school big cakes (Victoria sandwiches and the like) which people can take home and pretend they made themselves are most popular, but I know at other schools it is small cakes covered in as much sugar and food colouring as possible which sell."

"Properly egg-free/dairy-free/gluten-free etc cakes are always appreciated by parents who cannot normally buy anything at cake sales, but only make them if you really know how to avoid contamination. Wrap the cake in clingfilm, label very clearly, and then wrap in clingfilm again to make sure that the label is not lost."

"If you make a bigger cake, don't do anything that needs refrigeration. The cake stall doesn't have such facilities. Label it so people know what it is. It might be obvious to you that it is a lemon drizzle cake, but to the poor person who trying to deal with a million enquiries, lots of loose change and an idiot who only has a £50 note, they will really appreciate not having to answer questions about what type of cake it is."

"Meringues are really, really easy and sell well to adults. Make them ahead of time (they keep for ages) and then just put cream in before."

"We have a mum who makes homemade bread which goes down well."


2. ...but understand that it all comes down to how you decorate it 

"Chocolate, sprinkles and jelly sweets are generally the key ingredients for a successful school bake sale. The cake element is (almost) optional as long as the others are well represented."

"Make chocolate crispy cakes using cornflakes or rice crispies and lots of chocolate and decorate with shed loads of colourful hundreds and thousands."

"If this is your first school fair be prepared for the seriously impressive decorating other people can do. Then come back, chuck sprinkles and maltesers all over your cake, chuck the cake at the stall and run."

"Themed things tend to go down well at our school. Snowmen at Christmas, nests at Easter etc."

3. Bake more than you need

"Make two cakes and freeze one to eat yourself next week."

4. Don't send cakes into school in your best Cath Kidston tin

"Don't use your precious cake tin to transport cakes to school, instead save old ice cream tubs or shoe boxes. That way the poor person who is running the cake stall doesn't have to track down all the tin owners the following school day. If you do insist on using a tin you went back, label it clearly with the name of your child and the class they are in, not your name."

"Cut the side off a cereal box and line with tinfoil for a disposable tray."

5. Make sure you charge the right amount

"Our school varies the prices so 20p for a small bun/50p for muffin."

"At school, individual cakes range from 20p to £1 depending on how much people are likely to pay for them. One mum is a pastry chef at a top restaurant and her cakes are definitely the £1 ones!"

"We mix up the cakes and sell them in plates of six for £1. That way each plate has a mix of choc/plain/shop bought/fancy. And there's no argument on price."

6. But do not fall into The Cake TrapTM

"Don't be tempted to buy any of your cakes which are leftover, just because they look lonely."

7. And if the idea of baking brings you out in hives, it's OK. There's a get-out

"Just give them a fiver. Saves spending £18 on ingredients, staying up to 1am baking, then seeing your beautiful cakes sold for 20p each. Much less expense and hassle."

8. Because if all else fails, you can always con your way out of it

"Point to one someone else brought and pronounce it to be your contribution." 

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Last updated: over 1 year ago