Baking at home is lots of fun – you can easily delight your family with a tray of twenty or a dozen cupcakes. But when you want to pass out a special treat to everyone in your office, your child’s school, or even to sell at a market stall, you need to prepare and plan.
Here’s some advice guaranteed to help you delight with your baked goodies.
Pick something special
If you want your hand-out to be a talking-point – and really impress the boss! –think of an exciting hook. Could you make icing in the same colour as your company’s logo? Cakes referencing an in-joke (Janet’s love of kittens, Steven’s coin collection, etc)? If one workmate has a soft spot for a popular item like chocolate truffles or flapjacks, why not indulge them?
Plan your recipes carefully
Unless you have a catering-standard oven, you won’t be able to make more than 36 cupcakes, or 50 cookies, in one batch – even using both racks. But even this is a step up from the usual 10-12 cupcakes per batch. Carefully write down a tried and trusted recipe – then start multiplying!
You know you’ll need to set out at least a full afternoon to bake, but have you plotted out time for shopping? Icing and decoration?
Spread out the different stages in order to minimise the workload. First of all, of course, you’ll need to shop for the ingredients – this is where your helpful list will come in! Icing can be stored for around three days in the fridge if covered or in a secure container, so do that as soon as you can.
Remember that after the cupcakes are cooked, they’ll need to be left to cool for an hour or so before being iced. And make sure you allow some time after the baking to pack up.
If you’re planning a special event, or regular office hand-outs, it’s worth investing in some cupcake boxes. These have individual holes for each cupcake. Just make sure you don’t leave them in your office or event venue!
Many people have special diets, whether for ethical reasons or because they’re allergic to certain ingredients. Chances are that some people in your office will have dietary restrictions – but you don’t want to leave them out of the baking fun!
You have two choices here: either bake a special ‘dietary needs’ batch, or make all your cupcakes vegan and free from nuts and gluten.
Nuts are fairly easy to eliminate. The only thing you need to watch out for is chocolate: nut-free and vegan chocolate is available, but if you want to do one big batch of cupcakes for everyone, it might be easier to go with a fruit-based recipe.
There are many substitutes for dairy products and ingredients heavy in gluten. Some of the most common are potato starch, xanthium gum, agave syrup (remember: honey isn’t vegan!) and egg replacer made by various brands. There’s more specific detail on recipes in the resource box below.
And remember – if your baked goods don’t bring in big smiles, or if all of this just seems too much effort, you can always order some hampers online – and no one needs to know where the tasty treats came from!
An online vegan baking community
Bake in Bulk
Post on bulk baking from a popular baking blogger
Consumer review’s guide to baking equipment