Friday 24 March 2017

Dissecting a Bake Sale

We don't do them that often, as they are a huge logistical undertaking, however yesterday we did a Bake Sale at work for Red Nose Day. When we do bake sales, I go a bit overboard, and do a lot. This time, I did just shy of 160 portions, and was just on sweets, while the rest of the Bake Club covered savouries and other items.

My full list of items was;
Strawberry Cupcakes - I've never posted the recipe up for these, because cupcakes. A basic 3-egg sponge, buttercream icing, jam inside, and a shortbread tweel to decorate

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes - always popular. I did these gluten-free
Banoffee Cupcakes
Cherry and Chocolate Flapjack - not quite this recipe...I simplified it by doing just butter (no eggs or banana), no almond (so an extra 100g of oats), and no fructose sugar.
Chocolate Fudge - a new addition to the bake sale selection, with no caffeine, and rather than cocoa powder I stir in 150g of dark chocolate
Apple and Sultana Danish Pastries - Actually really happy with how these came out, best batch I've done!
Raspberry Tartlets - it's been ages since I've done these, and wanted to do something a bit different to normal bake-sale fare...
Coffee and Walnut Tart - I did a super-big version of this in a 30cm tart tin, with correspondingly super-sized batches (375g of flour for the pastry, and 200g of walnut in the frangipane). I then poshed it up with a bit of marbling effect in the chocolate
Millionaires Shortbread - I also marbe-effected the top with white chocolate
Apple and Cinnamon Loaf Cake - another gluten-free option, and I did it in a 2lb loaf tin so it could be sliced into generous chunks
Orange and Carrot Cake - the final gluten-free option, this was again done in a 2lb loaf tin, and sliced into chunks.
Chocolate and Caramel Drippy Cake - the showstopper! I've learnt a lot from the first attempt, and doing the miniature ones as well. The sponge was pretty basic (two 23cm cakes in simple vanilla), but I got the buttercream on a lot better, with good clean sides. The ganache went on well, and then I decorated the top with strawberries, cream and shortbread. Very happy with it.

So, that's the baking all went down very well! What I thought would be an interesting project would be costing up the ingredients for everything (and this is all based on Waitrose pricing, everything could be bought cheaper elsewhere, however I'm very lazy, and Waitrose is closest), breaking it down to "per unit" pricing, and then working out how much each batch made in profit. I then added a fairly subjective rating on complexity and popularity. The reason I don't do time is that various things were batched up (for example ganaches were done together, meringues were done together, some items were in the oven together. My big limiter on time is the availability of the oven, and also how long I spend washing up bowls!)

So, in terms of profit per bake, the show-stopper cake just wins, followed by the Coffee and Walnut Tart (notably, these had the biggest portion sizes, and were sold for £2 each). The gluten-free loaf cakes were the least popular (I think the GF moniker puts anyone NOT gluten-free of coeliac off).

If you were looking for profit vs time, then Millionaires Shortbread and Fudge are the way to go (the shortbread sold out incredibly quickly). Also, while it's not on this list, we had 3 different batches of Lemon Drizzle, and it all went...people were actively looking for it. Chocolate brownies also went quickly (even when we discovered we had missed a batch at 3pm, they quickly re-sold out).The classics are incredibly popular! Another thing that went quickly were the savouries...sausage rolls first (stilton and walnut), then quiche (Lorraine, and Mushroom), and "Pizza" Pinwheels.

Things we thought would sell faster than they did were the danish pastries...I've done these previously and they vanished. This time they were slow...maybe pain au chocolat would be better?

All in all a good experience, and we've raised over £350 for Comic Relief (which will be paid in today, and then we'll get Gift Aid added on top of that).