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For avid bakers, making tasty desserts that everyone raves over is a badge of honor -- that's why bake offs have become so popular.

Fancy a Bake-Off?

Who can resist a piece of delicious, rich cake or fudgy brownies? For avid bakers, making tasty desserts that everyone raves over is a badge of honor -- that's why bake offs have become so popular. A bake off can be a fun activity among friends or a great way to raise money for a good cause. Hosting the event can be challenging, but with some careful planning, you can pull off a successful -- and delicious! -- bake off.

1 Choose a theme for the bake off.

To make it easier to settle on recipes, it helps to have a theme for the bake off. You might choose a specific type of baked goods, such as cookies, cakes, pies, or brownies, or a specific event to bake for, such as desserts for a holiday, birthday, or wedding. A specific ingredients, such as apples or pumpkin, can also be a good theme.

  • A seasonal theme can work well too. For example, ask for summer desserts or fall-inspired treats.
  • A movie or book can be a fun theme as well. For example, request Harry Potter-inspired baked goods.
  • You can even use a color for the bake off's theme. For example, ask for baked goods that feature red ingredients.
2 Decide on the rules for the bake off.

A bake off can be arranged in several different ways. You can give the participants the general theme and let them choose their own recipes or you might choose a single recipe and have all of the participants make the same thing.

  • It’s also important to decide if participants will bake their entry at the venue or bring a finished product to the event. Having participants bake on site is very exciting, but it can be more difficult to find a venue with the proper kitchen facilities so having bakers bring finished entries may be more convenient.
  • Write down a set of formal rules for the bake off once you settle on them. Participants will want to know all of the guidelines before they agree to take part.
  • You should also decide if you will charge an entry fee. If you’re holding the event to raise money, having participants pay a small fee makes sense. Anywhere from £1 to £20 may be appropriate, depending on the event.
3 Settle on prizes for the bake off.

To give people incentive to participate, it helps to have some type of prize for the winner(s) of the bake off. If the event is sponsored by a local business, it might be a cash prize. You can also hand out a trophy, ribbon, or certificate.

  • The bake-off prize can be worth any amount, but typically, $25 to $100 is a good range.
  • You may decide that only the first-place winner receives a prize, but you can also have smaller prizes for the second and third-place winners if you like.
  • If you’re holding the bake off for fun, you just might purchase small items to use as prizes, such as an apron or pot holders.
  • A bake off can also function as a fundraiser. Even if you give the winner a small prize, you can then sell off all of the baked goods afterward to raise money for your cause.
4 Set a date and time for the bake off.

Once you’ve settled on the basic guidelines for the bake off, you’ll need to find a day and time to hold it. It may depend on when you can secure a venue, but it’s usually best to hold it on a weekend when people typically have more free time.

  • If you're using a holiday or other special occasion as a theme for the bake off, you'll want to time the event to appropriately. In most cases, you'll want to hold the contest within a two to three weeks of the holiday. For example, if the bake off has Christmas theme, you'll want to hold it within the first two to three weeks of December.
5 Select at least one judge for the bake off.

To determine the winner of the bake off, you’ll need at least one judge to taste and evaluate the baked goods. Ideally, the judge(s) should have some baking knowledge and experience, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be as a professional.

  • The judges shouldn't have any personal connections to the contests to avoid any claims of bias.
  • In general, the more participants your bake off has, the more judges you’ll want. A panel of three judges works well for most bake offs, though. If your bake off has five or less participants, though, a single judge is usually sufficient. For five to ten candidates, two judges work well.
  • People who would make good candidates for judges include local bakery and restaurant owners, culinary teachers from local schools, or bakers who've won other bake offs.
  • When you're talking to potential judges, you might say something like, "We're holding a bake off and would really like your expertise in judging the entries."
    If you're holding the event to raise money for a cause, provide information about the organization or group that will benefit to the potential judges.
6 Invite people to watch the bake off.

It’s not necessary, but it can be fun to have an audience to attend the bake off. Once you’ve secured participants, create a flyer that advertises the event for anyone who might like to watch and post them in your neighborhood and/or school or office bulletin board.
If you’re holding the bake off as a fundraiser, you can sell tickets to the event. You can charge however much you like for the tickets, but it's best to keep the price between £5 and £10.


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