Little Branch’s Banana Cake with Coconut FrostingLast Saturday we threw a bake sale here in Portland. It’s not the sort of thing I usually do, but I have friends and acquaintances affected by the immense disaster, and wanted to help. Last year Samin Nosrat of Berkeley threw a bake sale to help Haiti and raised $23,000. Right after Japan’s quake, she was planning a bake sale for Japan. I got in touch, hoping someone here in Portland already had the bake sale covered, and I could send along some cakes.
Instead, Samin connected me with Elizabeth Nathan, and the two of us put together the Portland sale. Elizabeth turned out to be a friend of a friend—it was great meeting her, great working with her.
In the end, the whole experience was wonderful. Home bakers filled our email box with offers to bake. Others asked if they could come help run the sale. People tweeted and blogged and put up flyers. Ristretto Roasters and Barista both offered sidewalk space.
Elizabeth and I worked at the Ristretto sale. Barista was run by two women who just stepped up and offered. One of them was a young woman I’d known as a very young child—she went to the same babysitting co-op as my kids!
Chocolate GingerbreadI managed to do a little baking myself. I made chocolate ginger crinkle cookies and chocolate gingerbread cakes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours; almond tortes from my mother's book, and one of my favorite standbys, a cornmeal rum prune loaf with lemon glaze from Fannie Farmer Baking Book.
On the morning of the sale Elizabeth and I showed up at Ristretto, a little unsure where to begin. The Ristretto staff brought us coffee and helped us move tables. Volunteers arrived to transport pastries to Barista.
A young man who was set to volunteer showed up with a backpack full of beautiful loaves of bread he’d just baked.
And then the baked goods started to pile up. There’s something lovely about having people line up to hand you their contributions. We had already picked up some of the donations from local bakers.
The home bakers brought more pies, cakes, candies, canelés (miniature!), cookies, and even dog biscuits. Somehow, in the whirlwind, I neglected to take photos. Shame on me.
See how tiny these canelés are?It was an honor to be part of this, a real pleasure meeting and working with all the volunteers. We nearly sold out of goodies. Elizabeth took the few leftovers to Operation Nightwatch, a local organization that addresses the problems of social isolation among the homeless.
My daughter’s birthday was the day after the sale. I realized I didn’t really want to bake again, so bought a birthday cherry pie and a beautiful little lemon cake. No photo, again. But imagine a six-inch square cake, iced in lemon yellow swiss meringue buttercream. The top held a bouquet of sugared violets, from baker (and local graphic designer) Holly O’Leary’s garden. Inside were four layers of white cake, lemon curd, and more buttercream. Just as delicious as it was pretty.
And the totals. From sales at the two locations, we raised $5223.93. Local businesses (Ristretto, Ink and Peat, and Tumbleweed Boutique) all added percentages of their day’s sales. Intel matched the first $2000. That meant, all together, Portland raised $7889.93.
But wait. Portland wasn’t the only city that threw a bake sale on Saturday. Samin helped people in about 25 cities (there were more than 40 locations all together) gather their finest bakers—home and professional—and hungriest shoppers. The total raised nationwide, as of today, is over $120,000 for Peace Winds America.
It turns out cookies matter (not that I ever doubted them).
Thanks to these businesses who pitched in (sorry for any I’ve forgotten). And a huge thanks to all the home bakers who baked such wonderful things and wrapped them with care.
Alder Pastry and Dessert
Baker & Spice
Bees & Beans
Fleur de Lis Bakery & Cafe
Kim Boyce of Golden Oven (and recent James Beard Award Nominee for Good to the Grain)
Grand Central Bakery
Ink & Peat
Helena Root of Irving Street Kitchen
Kir Jensen of The Sugar Cube
Little T American Baker
Little Branch Jam
Kristen Murray of Paley's Place
Petunia's Pies & Pastries
Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery
Alissa Rozos of St. Jack
Woodlawn Coffee and Pastry