How to cheat at the class Cake Bake!

Well, not cheating exactly, just ensuring you survive in tact!

How to cheat at the class Cake Bake!

The words "class cake sale tomorrow" send a wave of panic through me; it's always last-minute with both planning and baking and I always dread the being up until the early hours the night before trying to make the perfect 24 cupcakes to take in. The honest truth is that quality is nothing, presentation is everything! Enough icing and sprinkles and the children who buy them care little for the quality of the rise or whether something does or doesn't have a soggy bottom. So, I know I shouldn't worry unduly about the shape and colour of the cakes themselves, but the reality is that we're all perfectionists at heart, and 'it'll do' just won't do! I've lost count of the tupperware filled with culinary disasters that I've taken along in shame to the cake bake trestle table, but finally I can hold my head high, as this is the perfect recipe that I've always stuck with in recent times and hasn't yet let me down!

For the topping, I can't pipe to save my life, but I've found that there really isn't a need in all situations; just spread the buttercream* over and then cover in sprinkles rather than attempting piping - the children really won't know the difference! If you do attempt a piping swirl of any kind, use freezer bags with the corner cut off to make perfectly adequate piping bags. This causes far less guilt when you throw 3 away because it keeps going wrong!

*Buttercream is as easy as it sounds... softened butter with icing sugar added and possibly a bit of vanilla essence, raspberry puree or something else to add pizzazz! Alternatively just mix icing sugar with lemon juice to create standard icing. This can be spread over the top of the cake with sprinkles added just before it sets to ensure that they stick adequately.

If you're just a total bakerphobe or have just 10 minutes to spare the evening before, then cheating i.e. buying, is obviously your way out! Even then you can still add some personality to your offering though; try buying gingerbread men or similar, and then icing face features and the school colour tie onto them. Alternatively, try and up-sell through crafty presentation; buy cellophane bags such as these from Amazon and place individual cupcakes or a few smaller gingerbread men inside, and then tie with a pretty ribbon.

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