The Cake Is (Not) A Lie!
July 12, 2021 10:27 AM   Subscribe

How do I give away cake? Details inside.

I am going to begin volunteering with For Goodness Cakes soon. Before I make any cakes for the kids, I am going to need to practice making and decorating a decent looking/tasting cake. Probably a not insignificant number of practice cakes will need to be made judging from the first cake I made last weekend (tasted great but was perhaps, the ugliest cake ever to have been made in human history). For health reasons, I do not want either myself or Mr. Westridge to eat a lot of cake. I don't have friends in town that want any cake either. I don't want to throw away the cakes. Does anyone have any creative ideas for how to get cake to people who want cake ( need to be people who will not judge the cake by its looks, but rather by its tasty insides)?

Also bonus points for any of your favorite websites, tips, tools etc for cake baking/decorating.

Muchas gracias!
posted by WalkerWestridge to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
People frequently give away food (including partially eaten leftovers) in my local Buy Nothing group on facebook - it usually gets claimed pretty fast.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:35 AM on July 12, 2021 [8 favorites]


Best answer: The Wilton website was absolutely invaluable to me when I was in a learn to do cakes phase about a decade ago. Everything from batter volume ratios to fussy frosting decorations. It's an excellent resource.

If either of you are working in an office right now, taking things to work with you is a pretty good way to make baked goods disappear.

If you have an otherwise delicious cake that you've really fucked up the look of, covering everything up with a sheet of marshmallow fondant is a pretty good way to hit the reset button.
posted by phunniemee at 10:35 AM on July 12, 2021 [6 favorites]


Do you have a buy nothing group in your area?
posted by geegollygosh at 10:36 AM on July 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Judging by their twitter feed, the local fire department is regularly gifted with baked goods. You might try there or the local shelters or retirement homes. In normal times, I'd suggest leaving it in your work's break room with an email to everyone saying "free cake in the break room". Instant disposal.
posted by jquinby at 10:36 AM on July 12, 2021 [3 favorites]


Best answer: If the taste is fine but the frosting/deco needs work, just decorate appropriate sized boxes. All cake shops do this for their display cakes anyway, so you'll be in good company.

Oh, and if your layers arent staying put, use plastic cake picks, they're like skewers that hold the layers in place so they dont slide around when the cake is being worked on or transported. Tall layer cakes often have a plastic disc between layers as well, so it doent collapse into itself. And if you have to slice off a domed top after baking..no one will know once the frosting is on ;)
posted by ananci at 10:46 AM on July 12, 2021 [5 favorites]


Best answer: It might make sense to reach out to those who are preparing and feed meals for free to see if they could use some tasty, if odd looking cakes. You need groups that feed from a location where people come to eat since cake doesn't work well in a bagged lunch. Many of those groups shifted to a take-away mode during COVID so it will be a little harder to find. In my area, these are often faith based groups. The bonus is that if you are successful, you can probably give them as many cakes as you bake over the next few weeks.

Otherwise, in my area, this would be a good fit for our local "next door" community. In addition to buy nothing groups on Facebook, there is also Freecycle (an older version of people sharing with neighbors. If you are giving them away via one of these groups, i would post once and ask people to give you their contact info. Let people know that when a cake is going to be ready you will email/text. If they want the cake and can pick it up by [deadline] they should reply within x minutes. No reply within x minutes, you will go on to the next person. If they miss the window and still want a cake, let you know and you will add them to the bottom of the list for a future cake. Goal: make the process of giving it away as easy on you as possible.
posted by metahawk at 10:47 AM on July 12, 2021 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Sorry, I should have mentioned, both Mr. Westridge and I work from home so no office to take cake to. Also neither of us are on Facebook. But these are all great suggestions regardless and very appreciated!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 10:55 AM on July 12, 2021


Best answer: for decorating practice, you can buy styrofoam cake rounds which is what bakeries use for displays. practice buttercream is just shortening + powdered sugar, and it lasts indefinitely. decorate, scrape off, repeat.

re giving away cake, I haven't done it yet but on my to-do list is making cakes for the staff of the stores that stayed open during the pandemic and made life possible for my family. you'd have to ask the manager if it was ok, of course.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:08 AM on July 12, 2021 [5 favorites]


Best answer: If you are interested in tips how to rescue failed cakes, a great and practical resource are Ann Reardon's Videos. And she ist fun to watch.
posted by 15L06 at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2021 [3 favorites]


While I hate to suggest this because Facebook, but...Is there a neighborhood Facebook group? People are always giving away "I made too many" food on ours. It's usually baked goods, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Icing can be scraped off a box, reconstituted with an immersion blender or mixer and a small amount of water; add @ 1/4 tsp. at a time.
Call the nursing dept of a nearby hospital, ask where you can deliver baked goods.
or, I can send you my address.
posted by theora55 at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2021 [5 favorites]


Best answer: If you are practicing things like writing and making little daisies or something, you don't need to use anything cakelike. You can just do piping on wax paper, then scrape it back into the bag afterwards and use it again.

If you are trying to make the cake top into a flat surface, an icing spatula will make a huge difference. It works way better than any kind of knife. And if you heat it up with hot water before running it across the icing, it will make the surface even smoother (I hope there's a youtube video demonstrating this).

If you are finding yourself getting lots of crumbs in the icing, ice the cake with a very thin layer first, wait for it to dry, then put more icing on over that. This is especially helpful if you're using something like a chocolate cake with white icing.

If you want to make a bunch of icing just for practice, use Crisco as the fat instead of butter to save money.
posted by FencingGal at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2021 [5 favorites]


Also, homemade cakes do not have to be perfect and look like they came from a bakery. That is part of their charm. It is awesome that you are doing this. Less than perfection does not mean failure.
posted by FencingGal at 12:59 PM on July 12, 2021 [6 favorites]


Best answer: Oh, and if you have a restaurant supply place nearby, you can get vats of cheap icing and fondant to practice with for far less than grocery store prices. Theres a chain in California called Cash and Carry, and I'm sure theres something similar where you are.
posted by ananci at 2:33 PM on July 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: In addition to the fire department, at the public library we often got "thank you" snacks. You could also offer them to schools--put a cake in the staff room at an elementary school and see what happens. I'd suggest you call ahead to offer.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:28 PM on July 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Meals on Wheels?
posted by Cranberry at 12:09 AM on July 13, 2021 [1 favorite]


Not as altruistic as some of the other suggestions, but our FB Buy Nothing group has a few people who give away desserts (sometimes for exactly the reason you're asking about, wanting to bake but not wanting to eat them; but also people who just have leftover cake after an event and don't want it sitting around the house) - people are always thrilled to take them, and (at least in our neighborhood) will come pick them up themselves. We even have one member who has a standing offer to make a free birthday cake for anyone who wants one, with enough notice, just to practice decorating them.
posted by Mchelly at 11:29 AM on July 13, 2021 [1 favorite]


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