Bake sales have gotten a public relations boost in recent years as national anti-hunger group Share Our Strength has encouraged Americans to hold local bake sales annually –– any time through Oct. 31 this year –– and donate the proceeds to fight childhood hunger.

A classic fundraiser traditionally used by churches and other nonprofit groups, the bake sale is an event that can raise cash in a hurry with minimal fuss.


“It’s been a big moneymaker for us. We get a lot of return customers,” said Stella Taft, president of the Springfield (Ill.) Ceramics and Crafts Club. The 88-year-old organization holds an annual spring bake sale/luncheon and a November cookie walk/bake sale.


Bake sales offer buyers a variety of ready-to-go homemade baked goods, typically cakes, cookies, brownies, candy, pies and breads. The key, Taft said, is to start the planning early.


“You want to divide responsibilities so no one has to do everything. And it helps to have the sale near a holiday,” she advised.


Bake sales have gotten a public relations boost in recent years as national anti-hunger group Share Our Strength has encouraged Americans to hold local bake sales annually –– any time through Oct. 31 this year –– and donate the proceeds to fight childhood hunger. For more information, visit GreatAmericanBakeSale.org or call (800) 761-4227.


Sylvia Vidal of Washington, D.C.-based Share Our Strength said basics like cookies tend to sell out first at bake sales.


“I can’t exactly explain why the simple desserts sell the best, but I think it’s because we all have a childhood memory connected to those staple treats like brownies and cupcakes,” she said.


Share Our Strength offers these bake-sale tips:


-- Pick a busy location. Choose a high-traffic area, such as a strip mall, sporting event, community festival, chili cook-off or entrance to a local business. Consider asking your employer to let you have it at work.


-- Depend on teamwork. Ask friends and family to help, and tap their strengths, such as advertising, baking or selling.


-- Generate publicity. Get the word out by contacting the local media. Email friends. Post fliers on bulletin boards. Don’t forget Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.


-- Vary the menu. Package some items individually and some as a group, such as a dozen cake pops or cupcakes. Sell some pies whole and others by the slice. Include some healthful items for those watching their weight. Consider selling lemonade or iced tea along with the baked goods.


-- Know your ingredients. For buyers with allergies, it helps to have an ingredient list for each item being sold.


-- Find other revenue sources. Place a donation jar on the table, or conduct a raffle along with the bake sale. Both are ways to bring in additional donations.


-- Make an equipment list. It might include tables, chairs, table decorations, tablecloths, balloons, cash box and change, paper plates, utensils, napkins, pricing labels, drink coolers, donation jar, camera, markers, trash bags and cleaning wipes.


Check to see if your county requires a permit to sell nonperishable foods like cakes, cookies, breads and brownies at a one-day event. If you are selling perishable foods like cream pies or meats, there may be a separate permit requirement for those as well. The law may be different depending on whether the organization is for-profit or nonprofit.


Vidal said bake sales have become a venerable American fundraiser because baking and cooking bring family and friends together.


“No matter how strong your baking skills are, there is a place for everyone when it comes to hosting a charity bake sale. Whether you’re a chef who can whip up a unique treat, a grandma baking that special family recipe, or a kid who is learning to bake with a cake mix, supporting a bake sale is fun for everyone.”


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Pricing tips


-- Bundle small items. You’ll sell six cupcakes or a dozen cookies packaged as a unit faster than you’ll sell them individually.


-- Forget the cents. If you sell everything under $1, you’ll have to sell a lot to reach your goal. Try to keep items priced at $1, $2, $5 or more. Bonus: You won’t have to deal with change.


-- Offer deals. If whole pies are $20, sell two for $17 each.


-- Compare prices. What do local bakeries and supermarkets sell their baked goods for? Your prices should be the same. Remember, it’s for a good cause.


-- Source: Share Our Strength


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Some bake sale-suitable recipes:


Kaleidoscope Cookie Pops


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour


1 teaspoon baking powder


1 teaspoon salt


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened


1 1/2 cups granulated sugar


1 egg


1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1/2 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.


In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and extracts; mix well. Do not chill dough. Divide dough into 2 balls.


On floured surface, roll each ball into a circle that is approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. Dip round cookie cutter in flour before each use and cut out rounds. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet 8 to 11 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool cookies completely.


Outline and fill in cookie with colorful cookie icing. Add zigzag border to some cookies. If desired, pipe alternating circles of colors onto cookie surface; immediately pull toothpick through icing from center of cookie to outer edge, pulling colors through. Or, arrange sprinkles and sugars on iced cookie surface. Let dry.


Attach sticks to back of cookies with icing or melted candy. Let dry.


Makes about 2 dozen cookies.


-- From Wilton


Carrot Bran Muffins


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


1 cup wheat bran


1/2 cup packed brown sugar


1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder


1/2 teaspoon baking soda


1/2 teaspoon salt


2 eggs


3/4 cup buttermilk


1/2 cup canola oil


2 tablespoons molasses


1 1/2 cups grated carrots


1 cup raisins


In large bowl, combine first seven ingredients. Combine eggs, buttermilk, oil and molasses; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in carrots and raisins.


Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.


Makes 1 dozen.


-- From Taste of Home


Chocolate Mini Loaves


1/2 cup butter, softened


2/3 cup packed brown sugar


1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, melted


2 eggs


2 teaspoons vanilla extract


2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour


1 teaspoon baking powder


1 teaspoon baking soda


1 1/2 cups applesauce


1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


Glaze:


1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1 tablespoon butter


5 teaspoons water


1/2 cup powdered sugar


1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Dash salt


In large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate chips, eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with applesauce just until moistened. Fold in miniature chips.


Divide batter among 5 greased 5 3/4-by-3-by-2-inch loaf pans, about 1 cup in each. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.


For glaze, combine chocolate chips, butter and water in a saucepan; cook and stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat; stir in powdered sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth. Drizzle over cooled loaves.


Note: Two 8-by-4-by-2-inch loaf pans may be used; bake for 50-55 minutes.


Makes 5 mini loaves (6 slices each).


-- From Taste of Home


Kathryn Rem can be reached at kathryn.rem@sj-r.com. Follow her on Twitter @KathrynRemSJR.