How do I make great cakes for a cake stall?
Raise money for charity with a cake sale and check out the BBC's Get Baking website for recipes and advice. If you want to sell cakes, it's important to make cakes that people recognise, want and enjoy. Don't make anything too obscure. Lemon drizzle cake, fruit cake, chocolate cake, coffee cake, scones, flapjacks, muffins, fruit scones and biscuits will all go down a treat. Present them well, carefully wrapped and beautifully displayed. Mark them clearly with the price and with what they are, and be sure to state if they contain nuts.
Cupcakes are always popular. Sell them in fours covered with cellophane - not cling film as this doesn't look as nice. You can buy a roll of it, or you can buy bags made with cellophane on one side and a white paper back from department stores and online suppliers. That way the cake is well displayed and people know which way up it goes while carrying it! Have a few carrier bags ready too.
Make shallow cakes as these are cheaper and take less time in the oven than those great, deep cakes that are often made at home to cut and come again. However, they need to look good. Remember things like fruit cakes take a while to cook so you can't do too many at once.
Tray bakes are a great idea for cake stalls - use either a tray bake tin or just a roasting tin. If you're baking in bulk, you'll find that they make good use of oven space. Cut the tray bake into squares. Put four on a paper plate and carefully wrap it - people like to buy cake slices in fours and sixes. You'll also make more money that way.
Fruit cakes and biscuits keep particularly well if you're baking in advance. You can make Victoria sandwiches and fruit cakes way in advance and freeze them. Indeed most cakes freeze well, though the icing can lose its bloom. I think it's a good idea to freeze a cake before you've iced it and then ice it when it's fully defrosted. You should always tell people if you've frozen a cake.
Fill Victoria sandwiches with just jam, or jam and buttercream for a sale, not cream. You should avoid cakes filled with cream, particularly on a hot day - though buttercream can be tricky in the sun too. Ice the cakes on the morning of the sale or the night before. Cakes filled with jam are best filled on the morning as the jam can seep into the cake.
Loaf-shaped cakes are useful. Bake a lemon drizzle or a mincemeat cake in a 1lb loaf tin; you can bake several in the oven at once and they sell well. They're also easy to slice and a nice shape to take home. You can buy reusable, non-stick silicone paper from specialist cake stores that are the right shape for a loaf tin; reusable discs for the bottom of a Victoria sandwich tin are also available. Simply wipe them clean and reuse them - the finished cakes will look much tidier.
Simple decorations such as a dusting of icing sugar or a sprinkle of caster sugar will lift a cake - avoid piping buttercream icing onto cakes as they'll only get damaged while you transport them. Decorate cupcakes with glacé icing (icing sugar mixed with water and/or lemon juice) or, if it's a cold day, use buttercream icing.
My ultimate tip is to go for scones. They're the cheapest thing you can make and they sell well.
Do you have any nice ideas for a bake sale? Share your cake-selling successes (and disasters) with us. How might you make your cakes look good enough to buy?
Download a Get Baking poster, bake sale poster and get Get Baking bunting for your cake-selling events.
Mary Berry was a judge on the Great British Bake Off series. She was also interviewed about judging The Great British Bake Off for the BBC TV blog. Get all the recipes from The Great British Bake Off.