When she’s disillusioned by world affairs, Kait Wakefield heads to her kitchen to “rage bake.”
There, surrounded by mixing bowls and various ingredients, she channels her anger into action, creating sweet treats with messages addressing everything from racism and women’s rights to voting and Covid.
“My first political cakes were kind of cutesy and about the pandemic,” Wakefield explains. “They would say, ‘Let’s stay home,’ and, ‘Love you … but from, like, 6 feet away.’ As the summer began, I became more and more worried about the election and just the state of the world and the country and started getting more political. It was a good outlet for my frustration.”
In July, she took to social media to find like-minded confectioners, and Bakers for Change began to rise.
The core group includes four hobbyists from Pittsburgh — Wakefield, Sarah McCloskey, Camille Tastenhoye and Sophia Chang — along with Jessica Bedor, a professional pastry chef based in Nashville. They raise funds by hosting virtual bake sales and selling branded apparel and tote bags.
The women held their first online event in October 2020, mobilizing bakers from around the country to make bread, cookies, pies and cakes with messages encouraging people to vote; the baked goods were then auctioned off on Instagram. Participants filled out an online form and tagged Bakers for Change on Instagram to help spread the word.
That inaugural event generated $1,670 for Fair Fight Action, a Georgia-based advocacy group that campaigns for election reform.
Since then, Bakers for Change has donated more than $50,000 to various organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Flip the Senate and the American Civil Liberties Union. The most recent bake sale raised money for Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
“Some people auction off custom cakes; some people make a limited number of treat boxes,” says Tastenhoye, a full-time physician and part-time baker. “We’ve recently had larger bakeries join in and donate a portion of proceeds or dedicate an item to the bake sale.”
The next bake sale is scheduled for May 6, with all proceeds going to March For Our Lives, which advocates for tighter gun control laws. In June, Bakers for Change will support The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention, mental health aid and suicide prevention to LGBTQ youth.
Once Covid restrictions are lifted, the group hopes to hold in-person bake sales and other events in Pittsburgh. The goal is to not only fill bellies but to encourage community activism and build a nationwide coalition of bakers who believe in change.
“Being a part of this has been so fun and fulfilling,” Bedor says. “Getting to dip our hands in and support so many amazing causes benefitting people from different walks of life has been both exciting and educational. With each bake sale, we reach new cities and states through our virtual participants, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to see bakers and eaters alike coming together to help our fellow humans.”