I love to bake, especially around Christmas time, and after two years living in a country at a high altitude which complicated baking, I am excited to be back in the US this Christmas to enjoy the season!
Over the years, I have learned some baking hacks from friends and family, out of trial and error, and by necessity. I have compiled a list of helpful hints for you to use this holiday season. If you have some of your own, please share them so we can all make this an effortless holiday baking season!
- Keep the dough cold – this will help the dough keep its shape while baking and make it easier to work with.
- Use your resources – wax paper, parchment paper, and plastic wrap are your friends. Use them to make cut-outs easier to lift off or transfer to and from the baking sheet. Plastic wrap makes a great surface when making pie crusts so that you can easily transfer it to the baking pan. Wish I had thought of this one making my Bourbon Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving last year – I would have saved myself some un-nice words used against my dough!
- Another resource – ziploc bags. You don’t need fancy piping bags to ice or decorate your baked goods, in a pinch fill up a ziploc bag then cut the tip to the desired size.
- When flattening out rice crispy treats or dough to fill a pan, use wax paper on top to keep your hands clean. Also, Pam your wooden spoon or rubber spatula before mixing in the marshmallows – this will make for a speedy clean-up.
- Use what you have on hand, repurpose if necessary – stamps, cups, and wine glasses are great tools to use without having to buy cookie cutters for every occasion. Bottoms or glasses with designs can add great effects to your cookies and stamps can be used for your Christmas cards and to impress on cookie dough. This is especially helpful when you find yourself overseas without access to a Michael’s or Target to get everything you need for each recipe you plan to make.
- Another great way to change up basic recipes used all year – make chocolate designs on wax paper. For July 4th events, I’ve made red velvet cupcakes with chocolate stars and then for Valentine’s day I made with chocolate hearts. This same cupcake can also be topped with chocolate trees for Christmas! Or add the same to the sides of your cake or tops of cookies.
- Flour everything – this will keep things from sticking…cookie cutters, bottoms of cookies, etc.
- As I mentioned in Kitchen Essentials | And Hacks For Those You Don’t Have, if you don’t have a rolling pin, don’t despair, use that empty wine bottle. I’m sure with all the stress of the holidays, visiting family members, etc. there is sure to be at least one laying around; if not, this is a great excuse for you to enjoy a glass or three!