Local bakers are Baking For Good

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Forty two volunteer bakers from across Austin — including local bakers from Steiner Ranch — are going old-school in a new way to raise awareness and funding through a virtual bake sale. 

Austin-based nonprofit Baking For Good is holding its third and largest virtual bake sale this week to raise funds for Foundation Communities

There are more than 60 baked items to bid on including cakes, pies, breads, savory bakes, and even some treats for fur babies. 

Local mother-daughter team Laura (right) and Hannah Howell are baking a gluten free, flourless, chocolate cake in the Baking For Good virtual bake sale

Local mother-daughter team Laura and Hannah Howell are offering a gluten free, flourless, chocolate cake with the added touch of a salted caramel layer.

“We love sprucing up our basic baked goods recipes for the seasonal impact,” Laura said.

Hannah, a Vandergrift senior, has been Baking For Good’s sole intern as their IT/content manager since their inception. She aspires to attend a STEM collegiate program and graduate with a computer engineering degree.  

The duo has baked together to provide goods for all of the virtual bake sales so far and have helped raise almost $20,000.

Another local baker Isabella Melendez, who is a VHS grad, is baking two of her homemade scratch sourdough breads from a starter she’s been nourishing since before COVID started.  

“I love baking bread! Using a starter is so interesting to me,” Melendez said. She’s participating “to help the community, especially during these hard times.”

“I just love the campaign,” is why Anastasia Valko is baking for Baking For Good. Sourdough pastries is her “baking super power”.

Anastasia Valko, creator of Back to Basics Bakery in Four Points, is donating a savory Turkish dessert called sourdough Achma. 

“It’s so rewarding, fun, a great way to focus on positive during these times, allows us to hone in on a hobby that we love and do good for others,” Laura said.

All of the proceeds from this Baking For Good campaign will be used to provide rent relief to Austinites, who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Howell’s are baking a gluten free, flourless, chocolate cake with a salted caramel layer for this week’s virtual bake sale at Baking For Good.

“Bid on Friday, have cake to go with your family dinner on Sunday, and feel good about helping those in need,” said Baking For Good founder Andrea Smith, a south Austin resident who has been recognized in town for her contributions to the community and arts programs. 

BakingForGood.org is an official 501(c)3 nonprofit, which was born out of the global pandemic and focuses on Austin nonprofits helping nonprofits. 

“Baked goods bring comfort, joy, and in our case, we use our #flourpower to raise necessary awareness and resources for our communities in need,” Smith said.  

Baking For Good’s first sale raised more than 44,000 meals for the Central Texas Food Bank in May, and its second raised $8,100 for the Black Art Matters movement in July.  

Local resident Anastasia Valko specializes in sourdough pastries and breads. Not only is she the creator of Back to Basics Bakery but she also has volunteered time with Baking For Good.

The highest selling item to date — “Morgan’s Sweet Summer Dessert Assortment” — sold for $500.  The “Star Baker” for every campaign has the highest selling item and wins a prize. 

The oldest recipe — gingerbread with lemon sauce — used in the Foundation Communities campaign is from 1937.  

Austin-based Foundation Communities provides affordable apartments and free on-site support services for thousands. Foundation Communities has one of its 23 complexes in Four Points.

Isabella Melendez, a Vandegrift grad, is baking two of her homemade scratch sourdough breads for the Baking For Good third virtual bake sale.

The bake sale went live Sept. 21 and is to end 5 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the “Auction” tab at www.bakingforgood.org 

Minimum bids start at $35 and all bakes will be delivered to the winners in a socially-distant, contact-free way by 7 p.m. on Sept. 27. 

“Hannah and my auction items have been won by folks from all over Austin. We’d love to deliver to auction winners from right here in our hood,” Laura said.