I just signed up to donate a cake for an auction at my daughter's school. I've never participated in one of these before, but I know a lot of you have, so I was hoping for some suggestions. What type of cakes do you find sell the best? Should I do something related to the school, or something more generic, like a spring-time theme? Or should I just do a delicious-looking cake that isn't necessarily decorated (at least not the way we usually do)?
ETA: I'm not sure if it matters, but this is specifically a cake auction, so there will be lots of cakes to choose from.
I've never even heard of a cake auction, but I would suggest making your cake set apart from the rest. I would do a flavor that is common, but give it a wow factor with the filling and decorations. Something like for a child's birthday.
Find out what sells by asking the auction chairperson. I chaired one for a few years and I could tell you exactly what would sell for a high price. Here, it's all about the container and the extras. Great looking cakes sell at mid-range (about 50-$100). A baked good in a Longaberger basket, a golf bag cake with a gift certificate to a local range, a rectangular cake with a picture of a ship on it with cruise vouchers- those sell for the big bucks.
So I would definitely find out if it's strictly cakes that are auctioned or cakes plus extras. If it is just cake, do something not commonly seen- 2D, 3D, topsy turvy, etc.... Graduation is coming up as well as Mother's Day so either of those themes may spark an interest in people who are potential customers.
Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately, this is the first year of the auction, and it's last minute (they're trying to raise money for a specific project that just came up), so I'm pretty sure even the organizers won't know what will sell best. And it's just cakes, no extras. It'll be interesting to see what happens. Based on the culture of the area, I'm guessing none of the cakes will sell for all that much. People here are cheap -- including me!
Maybe I'll just pick a technique I've been wanting to try and design a cake around it. Now the hard part: Deciding what I want to try most!
Well, I talked to my brother, who is not a decorator but IS an excellent cook/baker. He said they did something similar at his daughter's school. Of course most people attending were young families, and the kids had a lot of say in what the parents bought -- which meant that colorful cakes with lots of sprinkles sold the best! And my kids really wanted to help, but I'm both indecisive and a control freak when it comes to cakes, so we ended up making three cakes. I did a scratch chocolate cake (got to try a new recipe!) covered in ganache with chocolate covered strawberries, drizzled in white chocolate, on top. Then I let my kids help me make cakes from a mix. My three-year-old made a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, decorated as a candy bucket (Kit-Kats on the sides and M&Ms on top). My five-year-old did a white cake with white icing, and we made a rainbow out of Skittles on top. They're by no means the fanciest cakes ever, but we had a great time. And I won't be upset if they don't sell for much, because I didn't put my all into them!