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Making Holiday Baking Easier
Submitted by Pam on Tue, 11/18/2008 - 16:06
You have all heard the advice... bake ahead and freeze. Sound advice to be sure, but if you do that, you will miss all the heady smells of holiday baking when you are IN the holiday mood...right? I have a solution that might make your holiday baking easier and less stressful during the busy days right before Christmas.
I schedule a day in late November to chop, toast, grind and measure the ingredients that I plan to prepare during December: nuts, dried fruits, chocolate, coconut, dry ingredients - anything that will not spoil or deteriorate.
These are the dried fruits I use in my Stollen. I chop a mixture of dried pineapple, apricots, rasins, cranberries, and cherries.
The chopped fruit for that recipe is then placed in a baggie, sealed and identified with a Sharpie, and set aside in the pantry until baking day.
It is a huge help to have these time-consuming tasks already completed. And, it reduces the number of dishes, tools and cutting boards that clutter up my kitchen while I'm baking. Lebkuchen is my husband's favorite holiday cookie, but I really dislike chopping the crystallized ginger. I am so happy on baking day to know that it is done ahead!
And chopping and toasting nuts - another task I get done ahead of time, storing the chopped and toasted nuts in separate bags for each recipe.
I love making (and eating) Biscotti and it really shortens the preparation time when all my cranberries and pistachios are chopped and measured ahead of time.
Shortbread is especially delicious when it is drizzled with or dipped in chocolate. Chocolate for holiday recipes is chopped, bagged and marked. (Keeping my husband out of them is the real challenge. Those are perfect bite-size pieces.)
Powdered sugar can be so messy! I sift, pre-measure and bag ALL the powdered sugar I will be needing for glazing, frosting or dusting. I only have to suffer the mess once!
Most breads, cookies, and other holiday treats call for a number of "dry ingredients" which are usually mixed in one bowl and then added to the "wet ingredients" at some point in the process. It saves time during baking and clean-up to sift, measure, combine and bag the dry ingredients for each of the recipes I plan to use.
Speculaas call for flour, soda and several "warm" spices. I use a whisk to mix them thoroughly before storing. Most spices will be fine for a couple weeks, but if you prefer, you can store the bag of pre-measured, mixed ingredients in the freezer.
Take out a few minutes soon. Make some tea or cider, get out your cookbooks and recipe files and decide what goodies you want to bake this season. Then make a list for shopping day of all the ingredients you will need to have on hand. Schedule a day to chop, toast, grind, measure, sift.... Just think how good you will feel when you have a bunch of bags in YOUR pantry that look like this!!
Come back and visit...lots of yummy holiday goodness coming soon! After all, there are only 37 days left til Christmas!