Do you get stressed out over all the holiday baking you want to do or think holiday baking is a daunting task? Check out the best holiday baking tips for help!
I can’t believe I’m already saying this but since Halloween is here it’s just about time to start thinking about the holidays! For me, that means lots of baking for family and friends. Everyone loves fresh baked treats, but I know they’re also daunting for a lot of people to make. So, today I’m sharing what I consider to be the best holiday baking tips.
1. Make sure your ingredients are still good. A lot of us don’t use a ton of baking goods like baking powder and ground spices throughout the year. That means that some of your ingredients could be well past their expiration date. Things like expired baking powder and baking soda can impact the texture and rise of your cookies and cakes, while old spices won’t impart as much flavor as fresh ones. I like to buy spices I rarely use from the bulk section so I waste and spend less. Extra Tip: For most baking recipes (except pastries and pie crusts) the ingredients, including butter and eggs, are best incorporated when brought to room temperature before making the recipe. I always have a butter dish full of butter ready for both baking and smearing onto fresh baked goods.
2. Have all your ingredients together before you start making a recipe and measure exactly. Baking really is more of an exact science so it’s very important to use exact measurements for the best results, especially when you’re trying a recipe for the first time. Be sure to use a liquid measuring cup for things like milk and a dry measuring cup for things ingredients like flour. If your measuring spoons are getting to be a bit warped it may be time to invest in a new set as well. Having everything ready to go when you start preparing a recipe will help you make sure you have enough of all the ingredients (I could have sworn I had another bag of chocolate chips in the pantry, oops!) and that you don’t miss any. Extra Tip: When measuring flour, spoon it into the cup and then level it off by scraping a spatula or knife across the top instead of packing it in.
3. Preheat your oven. Having a properly preheated oven is very important in baking. I usually start preheating when I start mixing together a recipe. It’s also important to test your oven’s temperature so you know if it heats colder or hotter than average so you can adjust timing as needed.
4. Don’t forget to prepare your pans. There’s nothing worse than taking the time to bake something really special only to have it stick to the pan and be ruined. For cookies use parchment paper or silicon mats. Cakes and breads do well with parchment paper or a baking spray or butter and flour. Even if you use non-stick baking pans you’ll still want to prep them for baking.
5. Always use clean, cool pans when baking cookies. Cookies are probably the most popular holiday baked good and it’s so much fun to get together as a family in the kitchen and make several batches. However, it’s important to always use a cool and clean cookie sheet when getting ready to put another batch of cookies in the oven. I have my whole oven drawer full of various sizes of cookie sheets and silpats so I always have some ready to go. Silpats are great because you don’t have to keep rolling off more parchment paper and they are super easy to clean. Extra Tip: Have several cooling racks on hand to help both your cookie sheet and cookies cool faster. You don’t want to store cookies in a container until they are thoroughly cooled!
6. Baking several goodies? Start with what bakes at the lowest temperature. Part of the fun of holiday baking is making several different confections. However, they often take different baking temperatures. Start with the recipes that bake at the lowest temperature and then work your way up to save time and energy.
7. Resist the urge to keep opening the oven door. It can be tempting to keep opening the oven door to check your baking masterpieces but what you’re really doing is letting all the heat escape. Most recipes have a range of time that recipes should be done within so at least wait to check until the lower end.
8. Put a pan under pies, cobblers, and crisps. Having to clean an oven after a pie, cobbler, or baked good has cooked over the pan and become a smoky, burnt mess on the bottom of your oven is the worst. So, any baked good that has a remote chance to cook over, I put one of my beloved baking sheets under it to catch any mess.
9. Do as much prep before as possible and pace yourself. The most important thing about holiday baking is to remember to have fun. Don’t try to bake everything in one day and remember that mistakes happen. One thing that helps me most is to do as much prep work as possible. Many cookie doughs can be made ahead and frozen until ready to bake. Pie crusts can be made into discs and frozen until you’re ready to make your pie. Rolls can be made and baked then frozen. If you’re making a lot of cookies or muffins, I like to invest in a cookie scoop so that they can all be the same size to make life a little easier as well.
What do you consider to be some of the best baking tips?