The great Breast Cancer UK bake off
Who can resist a piece of delicious, rich cake or fudgy brownies? For avid bakers, making tasty desserts that everyone raves over is a badge of honor -- that's why bake offs have become so popular. A bake off can be a fun activity among friends and a great way to raise money for Breast Cancer UK. Hosting the event can be just as exciting, and with some careful planning, you can pull off a successful -- and delicious! -- bake off.
Here are a few guidelines to help you along your way.
THEME Choose a theme for the bake off. To make it easier to settle on recipes, it helps to have a theme. You might choose a specific type of baked good, such as cookies, cakes, pies, or brownies, or a specific event to bake for, such as desserts for a holiday, birthday, or wedding. A specific ingredients, such as apples or pumpkin, can also be a good theme.
A seasonal theme can work well too. For example, summer desserts or winter-inspired treats. A movie or book can be a fun theme as well. For example, request Harry Potter-inspired baked goods.
You can even use a color for the bake off's theme. For example, ask for baked goods that feature orange ingredients.
RULES Decide on the rules for the bake off. A bake off can be arranged in several different ways. You can give the participants the general theme and let them choose their own recipes or you might choose a single recipe and have all of the participants make the same thing.
It’s also important to decide if participants will bake their entry at the venue or bring a finished product to the event. Having participants bake on site is very exciting, but it can be more difficult to find a venue with the proper kitchen facilities so having bakers bring finished entries may be more convenient.
You should also decide if you will charge an entry fee. If you’re holding the event to raise money, having participants pay a small fee makes sense. Anywhere from £5 to £20 may be appropriate, depending on the event.
PRIZES To give people incentive to participate, it helps to have some type of prize for the winner(s) of the bake off. You could approach local businesses for a donation prize or you can also hand out a trophy, ribbon, or certificate.
You may decide that only the first-place winner receives a prize, but you can also have smaller prizes for the second and third-place winners if you like.
To raise even more, you can sell off all of the baked goods afterwards to raise money for Breast Cancer UK.
DATE AND TIME You’ll need to find a day and time to hold your event. It may depend on when you can secure a venue, but it’s usually best to hold it on a weekend when people typically have more free time. If you're using a holiday or other special occasion as a theme for the bake off, you'll want to time the event to appropriately. In most cases, you'll want to to hold the contest within a two to three weeks of the holiday. For example, if the bake off has Christmas theme, you'll want to hold it within the first two to three weeks of December.
VENUE When you’ve settled on a date and time for the bake off, you’ll need a location for it. If you plan to have participants bake their entries at the event, you’ll need a spot with multiple ovens and stove tops. If you’re having participants bring prepared baked goods to the event, you only need a spot where there’s room for a judging table and space for an audience.
If you only need a space to showcase the finished baked goods, any catering hall or party room that's available for rent will work.
HELP ON THE DAY Select at least one judge for the bake off. To determine the winner of the bake off, you’ll need at least one judge to taste and evaluate the baked goods. Ideally, the judge(s) should have some baking knowledge and experience, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be as a professional.
The judges shouldn't have any personal connections to the contests to avoid any claims of bias. In general, the more participants your bake off has, the more judges you’ll want. A panel of three judges works well for most bake offs, though. If your bake off has five or less participants, though, a single judge is usually sufficient. For five to ten candidates, two judges work well.
People who would make good candidates for judges include local bakery and restaurant owners, culinary teachers from local schools, or bakers who've won other bake offs.
When you're talking to potential judges, you might say something like, "We're holding a bake off and would really like your expertise in judging the entries." You can also provide information about Breast Cancer UK so they know that they will be helping a great cause.
PARTICIPANTS Find participants for the bake off. A bake off can’t happen if there aren’t bakers to participate. Ask friends, family, co-workers, and/or classmates who you know enjoy baking to take part. You can also create flyers with all of the details to post in your neighborhood, on your school or office bulletin board, or other locations to invite people to participate.
Make sure to get permission before you post any flyers on private property, such as a store window. If you’re active on social media, you can also post online about the bake off to find participants. For example, making a Facebook event for the bake off is a good way to generate buzz. Don't forget to link up with Breast Cancer UK on social media - you can also use Twitter and Instagram to do a countdown to the event as a way to keep people interested.
Invite people to watch the bake off. It’s not necessary, but it can be fun to have an audience to attend the bake off. Once you’ve secured participants, create a flyer that advertises the event for anyone who might like to watch and post them in your neighborhood and/or school or office bulletin board.
You could sell tickets to the event - this will generate a few extra funds for your collection pot!