Giada De Laurentiis' Go-To Holiday Bake Sale Recipes

Written by Giada De Laurentiis


Giada De Laurentiis

One thing I love about the cooler winter months is that it’s the perfect time for baking. There’s nothing better than trying new recipes and filling the house with the sweet-smelling scents of cookies and other goodies baking in the oven. Given the nature of the season, this is also the perfect time to give back, so why not toss in a couple extra batches of your favorite baked dish and host a bake sale!

In a recent issue of Giada Digital Weekly, I discuss how to throw a successful and fun bake sale this holiday season. Whether you’re supporting areligious organization, children’s school or local charity, a bake sale is a great way to raise money. Plus, your kids will love helping you test sample your baked treats! I know Jade did!

Below I’ve included a sneak peak for Family Circle readers of my three keys to hosting a memorable bake sale. I’ve also included two amazing recipes: Lemon Angel Food Cupcake with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Frosting, and Apricot Oat Bars. I love these two recipes for bake sales because they are unique, easy to make and perfect for the holiday season. I hope you enjoy them—be sure to let me know how it goes!

Hosting a Bake Sale

1. It’s all about the variety. Store-bought cupcakes and three different versions of chocolate chip cookies won’t have customers flocking to your table. But a spread boasting a variety of different shapes, colors and flavors? That will do the trick! Go beyond cookies and have a pretty mix of sliced quick breads, bar cookies, cakes and pies.

2. Presentation, presentation, presentation. A creative display with cake stands and pretty platters will help make your tasty treats even more irresistible. Cover your table with a colorful cloth and get your kids involved by asking them to make some hand-lettered signs.

3. Be descriptive with your signage. More and more families have concerns about food allergies and other dietary restrictions, so be as descriptive as you can when creating signage for the sale. Ask everyone to write a full list of the ingredients they used in their baked good on an index card, and keep these handy so you can answer questions about potential allergens quickly and confidently.

Giada's Lemon Angel Food Cupcake with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Frosting

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Lemon Curd:

  • 3 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, from 2 large lemons
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


  • 1 (1-pound) box angel food cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Mascarpone Frosting:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk, chilled
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Silver or pastel dragees, Jordon almonds or yellow sanding sugar to decorate

For the curd: Whisk together the yolks, lemon zest, juice, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. Cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon or spatula, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring until the consistency of the curd is smooth. Transfer the curd to a heat-proof bowl and cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate the curd until firm and chilled, about 1 hour.

For the cupcakes: Place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the cake mix, water, lemon zest and juice. Beat the mixture on low speed for 30 seconds to incorporate the ingredients, then increase the speed to medium for 1 minute until the mixture is light and fluffy. Use a scoop or spoon to fill the liners 3/4 full with the batter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden brown and the cracks on top feel dry. Cool the cupcakes completely before filling and frosting, about 30 minutes.

For the frosting: Whisk together the powdered sugar, mascarpone, milk, and vanilla until smooth and shiny. To fill the cupcakes, use a small spoon to push a shallow hole in the center of each cupcake. Fill the center with 1 teaspoon of the lemon curd. Drizzle the cupcake with some of the frosting to cover the top. Sprinkle with the decoration of your choice. Allow the cupcakes to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Inactive time: 20 minutes  

Apricot Oat Bars

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  • Vegetable oil cooking spray


  • 1 (13-ounce) jar apricot jam or preserves (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 8 dried apricots, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1/3 cup)


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 packed cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cup old-fashion oats
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 x 13 x 2-inch metal baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

For the filling: In a small bowl, mix together the jam and apricots. Set aside.

For the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Stir in the oats and walnuts. Add the butter, egg and vanilla and stir until incorporated.

Using a fork or clean fingers, lightly press half of the crust mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Using a spatula, spread the filling over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the pan. Cover the filling with the remaining crust mixture and gently press to flatten. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until light golden. Cool for 1 hour. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yield: 24 bars

Prep time: 12 minutes

Cook time: 30 to 35 minutes 

Inactive time: 1 hour