No, no, no…it’s not that kind of “something”…those days are over (thank goodness)! But it’s not too early to get your holiday bake on. Whether you are baking pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas cookies for Santa, yummy bread to give as gifts, or quiche for a New Year’s brunch, planning and doing a bit ahead of time will reduce some of that holiday stress…save that for dealing with the in-laws and your sugared-up kids!
- Start by creating space in your freezer. Use up some of the stuff that’s been in there for awhile before it expires. (If you lost power during one of the recent storms, here’s your silver lining.)
- Next, pick up extra baking staples during your regular shopping trips whenever you see them on sale. Flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, butter…did you know that you can freeze your butter?
- Make a list of all the old family favorites and any new goodies you’d like to bake this year. (If your family is anything like mine, this alone will make you realize that you should have started on December 26 of last year.) Gather your recipes in one place or include cookbook names and page numbers on your list so that you have it handy when ready to dive in.
- Make a list of any special ingredients you don’t normally keep on hand so that you can keep an eye out for sales and purchase them as you see them. Many items go on sale right after Halloween or Thanksgiving, and coupons abound.
- Whip up a batch of cookie dough or pie pastry as time allows. It literally takes only minutes, and if you start making just one or two batches each weekend, you’ll have a wide assortment by the time you need them.
- Cookie dough can be rolled into logs (for slicing), cut into shapes, or shaped into individual balls and then frozen. Pie shells can be shaped and frozen raw, and quick breads can be baked first before being wrapped and frozen. Just be careful to package everything well in airtight freezer containers or wraps and label them clearly. (I wondered why my Maple Shortbread tasted so peanut buttery last year!)
- Just pull your goodies out of the freezer and bake as and when they are needed. Most recipes can be baked straight from the freezer but be sure to allow additional baking time.
No more marathon baking sessions three days before your party or giving away stale cookies because you couldn’t get them delivered right away. Bake only what you need, package them up and deliver them fresh from your oven straight to your boss’ desk. Can you say “Christmas bonus?”