Just in case you’ve been in denial as much as I have, guess what – Christmas is in a week. Chances are, food, and possibly baked goods, are in the works for some of you. Here’s a few tips, gleaned from my own mishaps and adventures, that may help streamline and take the edge off holiday baking. Please feel free to add your own and make any suggestions!
- Align those ducks. The French call it mise-en-place, which basically means, get all your ingredients and equipment out, measured, and ready to go before turning on the stove, oven, or mixer.
- Figure out what you’re making, and make a nice list of what you need – AKA read the recipes BEFORE leaving for the grocery store. He said, as he googled the recipe from the middle of the baking aisle today.
- And while you’re at the store – should storage and budget allow- buy extra ingredients, he said, after making two trips today for more eggs. Flour, sugar, butter – even fresh eggs – all keep for a while. Running out, or screwing up and needing extra – is very annoying.
- When you get home – just leave the butter out. 9/10 recipes want it room temperature, this way it’ll be ready to go.
- Use parchment paper for baking cookies.
- As much as possible, clean up as you go. I tend to hand-wash measuring cups and spoons once whatever I am making is done/in the oven so they’re ready for the next recipe.
- If you get any yolks in the egg whites, start over. Not even a Kitchen-Aid mixer on high speed can fix it.
- Make anything ahead of time that you can. Many cookie doughs even require refrigeration – make the dough one day, the cookies the next. Ganache, pastry cream, even cakes can be made ahead of time.
- Get and use a digital scale, a candy thermometer, and a bunch of silicone spatulas.
- Relax. Talking to myself, here. But seriously. Most people will eat desserts even if they are ugly. Years ago, a friend of mine made a Key Lime Pie to bring into the office. She dropped it taking it out of the oven, and brought it in anyway. We called it Key Lime Casserole, and ate it all. It was delicious. My great grandmother (or was it my great great grandmother?) used to make fudge – and I have the recipe. It was called spoon fudge or rock fudge, depending on how it came out. (I have since solved the fudge issue with the candy thermometer.)
That’s what I can think of for now. I made mini eclairs, pastry cream, toffee bars, and cocoa bourbon balls today. I should do something with the extra egg whites left over from the pastry cream – there may be giant meringues in my future! Or I could not worry about it which may be easier all around.
Good luck with any holiday baking you do – I bet whatever you make will be delicious!