The art of the American Bake Sale is almost dead - it’s on a respirator in critical care next to the beds occupied by the homemade lemonade stand, baseball cards, and the family road trip.
Participating in a bake sale was on my list of volunteer activities from the beginning, but for the life of me I could not find one to help. No schools wanted help because I wasn’t a parent or student. Clubs seemed to think I was a weirdo for wanting to donate cookies and cupcakes to their cause. And everywhere I went people told me horror stories of little old ladies holding cookie fundraisers and being fined, by bake sale cops, for not having a license to sell food in the city of Los Angeles. I never found out about the laws regulating bake sales though that seems like a waste of police time so I’m going to believe those stories are not true.
In the second month of looking I became desperate and turned to my old friend The Food Network. The Food Network is partnered with a huge non-profit that uses bake sales to raise funds (look it up I won’t name names). I went to their website to try and find a sale to participate in, however the website search engine is built to search by a participant’s name - not area or date of sale - and I didn’t know anyone organizing one. So I wrote the organization and they sent me a list of people who had signed up in my area, but when I called these people half of them had already thrown the bake sale and the others were “disgusted with that groups organization problems” and had decided “not to hold the damn sale.” (Side note: after talking to this non-profit and letting them know what I had heard and about the difficulties using their site they assured me they would be stream lining the system – we shall see.) My b.s. search (ha!) continued for months, until I despaired that I would never find anyone to help.
Time sped by and before I knew it Thanksgiving appeared on the calendar. I ended up celebrating that glorious day at a very good friend’s house. His wife happens to work for a church and she said they were doing a fundraiser to raise money for scholarships and one of the things they wanted to sell was baked goods. I told her I would make Snickerdoodle cookies for her to sell and my feet danced a happy little jig under the table.
Baking is one of my absolute favorite activities. I’m going to paraphrase a sentiment from the movie Julie & Julia to explain why… Life is rough and unpredictable so there is something comforting about following a recipe, combining flour, sugar, butter, and getting a delicious cake every time without fail.
I baked my Snickerdoodles (see picture) and delivered them to my friend’s home the night before the fundraiser. I would have joined them for the sale, but I was scheduled to do volunteer activity 47 on that day. But that’s an important volunteering lesson – you don’t have to do everything to make a difference. Sometimes it’s best to work as a team and only do the job you're most suited for – in my case baking.
Without further ado here’s my recipe for Snickerdoodles and following that my friend Amy’s recipe for delicious Vegan Bread, which I promised to the volunteers at Animal Acres the week before:
Snickerdoodles – wonderful cinnamon and sugar cookie
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
4 TBsp sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix butter and sugar till creamy. Add eggs and vanilla stir together. Add dry ingredients and stir till combined. Put batter in freezer for 15-20 minutes. Mix topping of cinnamon and sugar together on a plate.
Take batter out of freezer and make golf ball size rolls of cookie dough. Press tops of dough balls into topping on plate and put that side up on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes. Yields a little over a dozen.
For a bake sale contribution aim for at least 3 dozen.
Amy’s Awesome Vegan Bread
A bit about Amy – First of all, she’s not a vegan and didn’t write this recipe to be vegan it just is. She lives on a historic farm in Tennessee and grows a lot of her own food. She has never steered me wrong where food is concerned and this recipe is no exception.
~4 cups flour - I usually do ½ wheat & ½ white
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
~1 to 2 teaspoons salt
Add a couple tablespoons of honey (not vegan), molasses or brown sugar if you want. Nothing artificial please.
~1 ½ cups water but you might need more or less depending on your flour.
Make sure water is luke warm, add sweetening agent aka honey, sugar, etc., add yeast, stir and sit to the side. Mix flour and salt together, make well in center of dry ingredients and pour water yeast into the middle. Stir together. Dough should be sticky but not runny or soupy. Coat bowl with olive oil and put dough in bowl and let rise for one hour – cover with towel.
Cover cutting board with flour, scoop out dough onto cutting board and kneed for about 5 minutes – working those arm muscles. Put dough in olive oil greased loaf pan and let rise 30 min. to 1 hour. Stick in 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes till golden brown and crusty. Enjoy after cooled.