Delving into the murky depths of my nine-year old son’s school bag is one of my least favourite things to do. It’s sticky hovel of forgotten raisins, pencil sharpenings and leaky cartons of apple juice.
Sometimes I get lucky and only unearth a half-eaten tuna sandwich, a crayon and a handful of snotty tissues. I can cope with this, after all I’m a parent and the content of our child’s nose hold no fear for us.
But what does send a cold finger of dread running down my spine is discovering a Letter From School.
Letters From School are never the bearers of good tidings. They are used as a sadistic way to make your average parent’s life that little more stressful by demanding your child arrives at school the very next day dressed in an authentic Roman gladiator costume.
Sometimes they arrive as a passive aggressive note reminding you that you’ve not yet paid for the school trip - and if you don’t pay immediately, your child won’t be able to go to the Bronze Age Settlement and will therefore fail all their GCSEs.
But the hands-down most terrible letter to extract from your child’s school bag, is the one about the School Bake Sale. This is usually a way to extract money from you so that the school can purchase some new playground equipment. I have no problem with that, in fact I would happily send in twenty quid if they promised never to ask me to bake a cake ever again. Obviously, you can pop to the supermarket and purchase some ready-made sweet treats – but nothing says Parenting Fail more than a hastily bought pack of Mr Kipling French Fancies.
I can’t bake cakes. I can’t ice cakes. I can only eat cakes. But as the letter has informed me that the school will likely close down if I don’t send in some lop-sided butterfly cakes, I’ve come up with a brilliant step-by-step guide that will help me be the Star Baker At The Primary School Cake Bake.
- Buy a cake mix to keep in the cupboard. That way, when my child casually announces at 8pm on a Thursday evening they need a dozen perfectly baked muffins to take school tomorrow ‘that don’t look like cow-pats this time,’ you are in with a fighting chance of meeting the deadline.
- Don’t let the children help. Seriously, don’t. It takes five times as long and creates ten times the amount of washing up. Plus, you’ll be hoovering hundreds-and-thousands from your kitchen floor for a least a decade.
- It’s all in the decoration. Kids are buying the cakes, so you need to know your audience.Never mind that Perfect Paula has created three tiers of Genoese sponge decorated with Italian meringue icing and adorned with hand-made fondant roses, the kids want sparkles! They want butter icing that is three inches thick and topped with chocolate and Haribo.
- I like to give other mums the impression that I’m Mary Berry by putting my sugar-loaded monstrosities in an expensive cake-tin. Cath Kidston tins are always good. If anyone asks to see my cakes, I pretend the lid is stuck.
- Smile broadly. I’ve practised my best smile as I hand the cakes to Mrs Teacher and she comments about how lovely it is to see that my child has obviously made the cakes with very little help from an adult. I’m not offended by this; in fact, I’m pleased that my son is the one who is getting the blame for producing cakes that look like they’ve been bludgeoned by a sledgehammer.
If my top tips have not ensured you’ve bossed the Bake Sale, then all is not lost because you can simply buy your own cakes back. It’s the only sensible solution. The school makes a bit more money, and you get cakes that you know are free from other children’s sticky fingers and bogies.
There’s also loads of fun items to help you bake your best cake - or at least make sure they look good – available from Stamptastic. From aprons, to biscuit cutters and rolling pins there is a great selection to choose from. They even offer Personalised ‘Baked By’ Stamps – and if you don’t want to admit that the cakes were made by you, I suggest putting Perfect Paula’s name on the stamp instead. Happy baking!
(If you are on your PTA and need easy ways to raise funds for your school then check out the Stamptastic PTA Rewards Scheme!)
If you are looking for the Ultimate Parent Hack check out Stamptastic's famous Personalised Name Stamps for labelling school uniform! The quickest and easiet way to label school uniform and absolutely no ironing or sewing required 🙌🏻