I love to bake at the holidays, but only when I’m not under pressure to get things done!
However, one of the great things about holiday baking is how much of it can be done ahead of time. Most cookies freeze well, meaning you can start now and have yummy, homemade cookies throughout the season.
Now is also a great time to begin shopping for all of your holiday baking needs as well because you’ll find plenty of coupons on baking ingredients and sales on those same items (a friend of mine just said on Facebook that butter is back down to $1.99 at Aldi this week!).
Here are a five tips to help you simplify your holiday baking:
1. Check your supplies. Begin by filling out your Christmas Baking Planner, noting any ingredients or other supplies you’ll need to get.
And then, before you start baking, double check that you have all of the ingredients for each recipe — and in the quantities you need — before you start. Surely I’m not the only one who has gotten halfway through a recipe only to realize someone has used up half of the eggs and now I don’t have enough!
2. Use parchment paper. If you’re making a lot of cookies at once, line your cookie sheets with parchment paper so you can quickly slide the cookies off and put a new batch in the oven so that you don’t have to wait for cookies to cool and be transferred off the cookie sheet before you can prepare the next batch.
3. Make a game plan for your baking days. Since I’ve had kids, I’ve moved away from marathon baking days to cooking just one or two recipes at a time, but either way, you need a game plan! Figure out which days you have available for baking and how much you can realistically do on those days.
Then, look at prep times, bake times, etc. to create the most efficient schedule. Group similar cookies together so that you can reuse measuring cups, spoons and bowls without having to wash them. For example, start with basic sugar cookies and then reuse the bowl for your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Similarly, start with any dough that needs to chill first so that you can work on other cookies while it’s in the fridge.
4. Clean up as you go. I may just be the world’s messiest cook. One thing that I’ve found is that I do better if I start with an empty sink so that I can wash dishes and clean up my mess as I go. Actually, this is a great habit for all year long, not just Christmastime!
5. Prepare your packaging ahead of time. Whether you’re making cookies for holiday get-togethers or to give as gifts, go ahead and pack them into separate containers right away so that you don’t have to go back through and divide them up later!
Bonus tip: have fun! Most importantly, don’t let holiday baking become a “have-to” that you approach with scrooge-like intensity. Enjoy the process, and if you don’t have time for that, don’t be afraid to cross it off your list!
Breville has released new, time saving products such as the Smart Oven, just in time for the holidays! Take the guess work our of holiday cooking with the Smart Oven, the oven that does the thinking for you. Check out their website for more information on this product and other great gift ideas.
And don’t forget to reply below for two chances to win your choice of the amazing Breville YouBrew Tea Maker or Smart Oven for yourself or as a gift this holiday season!