Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Portland’s Bake Sale for Japan

coconut cake
Little Branch’s Banana Cake with Coconut Frosting
Last 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.

bake sale 2
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 Gingerbread
Chocolate Gingerbread
I 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. 

bread (478x640)
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. 

caneles 2
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.

caneles 4
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.

bake sale

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.
Ristretto Roasters
Alder Pastry and Dessert
Alma Chocolate
Baker & Spice
Bakery Bar
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
Miss Zumstein
Kristen Murray of Paley's Place
Petunia's Pies & Pastries
Pix Patisserie
Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery
Alissa Rozos of St. Jack
Woodlawn Coffee and Pastry


Lisa Belt said...

I just polished off our bag of Chocolate Ginger Crinkle cookies thsi morning. (The presence of ginger meant they were left for Mommy, heh heh.) Anyway, I thought to myself, "The problem with the bakesale is that I don't know who baked these and where to get the recipe..."
Guess I can cross that off my list of "problems"!
Thank you for the hard work and the delicious cookies!

Giovanna said...

Glad you enjoyed the cookies! I've always thought someone should write a cookbook of desserts your kids will hate. There's so much attention to books that make kids eat vegetables by any means necessary. Why not a book that makes them steer clear of dessert (and leave it to us!)?

Lisa Belt said...

Great idea! I'll contribute my signature pots de creme--heavily laced with bourbon.
"Sorry kids! Have a Popsicle."

lshere said...

Sounds like a great event-good for you, Giovanna!

joanna said...

How did I miss those chocolate ginger crinkle cookies? Not that I was disappointed with the almond seeded blueberry macaroons made by Kristen Murray of Paley's Place. Or those fantastic chocolate wafers from St. Jack...and all the rest.

The array and presentation/packaging was indeed impressive. Everybody stepped up!

Great work.


Giovanna said...

I know--those seeded blueberry amaretti were good. And I don't usually like blueberry things that much. Did you try any of Kristen Murray's other things? She also had meyer lemon pound cakes and I think some hazlenut brownies...I didn't get to them all.

Giovanna said...

And another thing--your almond triangles went FAST--I had to laugh when I saw some pretty almond squares that had been at the Barista sale. Thought they looked very good, and they were gone just as fast. Later I realized your sister had baked those ones.

So--what shape did your Mom cut them?

Joanna said...

Yeah, my friend let me taste some sort of rosemary shortbread that I'm pretty sure Kristen Murray also made. Good.

YES, Beth and I both made the family almond cakes. As I remember, my mom cut them in squares when I was very young and then in later years switched it up and did triangles, as well. I think it depends on the volume and/or mood. I'm partial to the wedge shape - seems more elegant.

My sis has been known to spread dark chocolate on them before adding the almonds, which is certainly not a bad thing. But I tend to like 'em plain and simple. Less is more.

Holly O'Leary said...

Hi Giovanna! Thanks so much for the mention and the link to my site. How nice of you! So glad you enjoyed the cake too. How fantastic that this was such a success. Cookies DO matter. Changing the world, one crumb at a time!

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