Just look at that picture…makes your mouth water doesn’t it? Its items that look like that fly off the school bake sale table. I committed this year to making items for the bake sales for both my boys schools. I cook every day, I’m professionally trained, what’s the big deal? Riiiggghhhhtttt. It became very clear to me that the time and ingredients needed to make a from scratch rock star item wasn’t realistic for the bake sale. Especially when I am baking for 2-3 a month. My eldest son put it into perspective for me by saying “Mom, stop trying to cook for them like you do for us, my friends love Twinkies, using ginger and special ingredients isn’t going to fly.”
It really came down to my pride. I had to have my item fly off the table, come on I’m a pro. I have my recipes on menus and in retail shelves across the nation. I should ROCK the bake sale no prob. My first visit to the bake sale really was eye-opening, (my boys are 11 and 13 and this is th first time I’ve done the bake sale thing). My eye could pick out the homemade items that obviously were labors of love but didnt have the right marketing. It was the item my youngest son bee lined for that made me realize I had to switch approach.
It was the puppy cupcakes that had drawn him in. Not the mini cheese cakes or the brownies, the cupcakes. It was the PACKAGING, and aha moment for me.
I now use box mixes, I make my own frosting’s etc and spend my time on the design and decoration. I try and make them seasonal and different each one. I want to use some of the pumpkin I had roasted so I made Pumpkin Gooey Butter Bars. I used pumpkin puree I made myself, both the pumpkin and eggs from the farm. But the rest just regular grocery store items. I wait for box mixes to go on sale for cakes and brownies and then concoct my own delights. To the bars I added some orange tinged cream cheese frosting and a dusting of pumpkin pie spice mix.
The recipe for the bars is a Paula Deen item and is below. You can design so many variations of this theme by using different kinds of cake mix and changing the filling. I once did a lemon one with fresh lemon juice and zest and it was very tart and refreshing, helped to balance the rich sweetness of the cake.
- 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
- 1 egg
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.