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Bake Sales

Bake Sales are events for which people donate items they have baked at home, with the purpose of raising money for a cause. The items are usually sweet, but more savoury items such as bread, and sausage rolls in pastry and bottled preserves may also appear.

The concept of Bake Sales may have some assumptions that are out of date. One is that commercially-prepared food is more expensive than the ingredients required to bake the same item at home, which is no longer necessarily true. It can now often cost more to make something than to buy it. Another is that people have more time to give than they have money. Some, depending on their political views, also question Bake Sales held to raise money for causes such as schools, which they feel the government should be entirely funding and not require any community involvement.

Traditionally Bake Sales have been about more than just the money raised. They have been community-building events not without their share of human drama. They have given people a chance to work together, make friends and share recipes. They have provided the opportunity to show off one's own talent, and decry the lack of it in others, and to find a great dessert that you can ferret out the recipe for and then claim it as your own.

And, there can be outrage, and hurt feelings, when people who have put a lot of time, effort and money into their baked goods see them flogged off too cheaply. To be fair, though, an organizer probably has no way of knowing how much a person spent on the ingredients that went into making a particular cake or pie.

Part of the pricing problem is that, from the other side of the baked goods table, people don't expect to pay a lot at bake sales, particularly if they don't know if a particular item will taste any good once they get it home. You can't tell from looking at a pumpkin pie, for instance, if it's too sweet for your taste. And, sadly, the quality of baking presented at a Bake Sale can often be uneven.

Some schools, though they are still holding Baked Sales, are now banning homemade baked goods. Instead, the parents are expected to buy the baked goods from stores with packaging that fully details the ingredients. Many parents point out that the store bought stuff may be full of preservatives and ingredients with names that no one understands, and that if it has come to the point where the school is afraid of letting children eat their mothers' cooking, perhaps they should just switch to another fund-raising idea entirely.

Still, given the cost of ingredients now to produce quality baked goods at home, parents may well save money by just buying the stuff already made at stores, especially if the school is going to sell off homemade baked goods for far less than it cost to make them. Others contend that they would be better off by just donating what the cost of the ingredients would have been.

The best-sellers at Bake Sales seem to be items which are attractively presented. Cookies in a plain plastic bag will stay on the table; those in the same bag but tied with a ribbon or a bow will sell more quickly. Also best-sellers are items sold individually, like a slice of cake or two squares. When sold in these smaller portions, people aren't worried if they don't like it, they'll be stuck with too much of it. It also allows those watching their weight to know that they'll be taking home a limited quantity of the item.

In May 2009, the City Council of Dundee, Scotland, banned home bake goods from school sales on health and safety grounds, despite the advice of the British Food Standards Agency (FSA): "Home-made cakes should be safe to eat, as long as the people who make them observe good food hygiene, and the cakes are stored and transported safely." [1]


[1] BBC. Home baking ban at school fairs. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/tayside_and_central/8078591.stm

Meal Types

Bake Sales; Buffets; Cucina Casalinga; Du Jour; Gueridon Service; Potluck Suppers

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Oulton, Randal. "Bake Sales." CooksInfo.com. Published 05 June 2005; revised 02 June 2009. Web. Accessed 03/23/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/bake-sales>.

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