It’s starting to get down to the wire, and it’s starting to get just a little bit crazy here. As you can see, I had a productive baking day here with dozens of cookies Getting done over the course of a day. On my own home front, my job has eaten up more hours that I would have liked the past couple of weeks, so the important thing at least for me has been to go in with a proper game plan. So here are a few tips that can maybe help you out to.
Make Your Choices
In order to make the best use of my time, here I decided to go with 3 recipe choices and knock them all off in one day. I went with family favorites, There’s a carrot based cookie upper left, some standard Thumbprints next to them, and the day’s output also included an oatmeal raisin.
Decide on Your Time Blocks
Assign time blocks for baking. The above batches were knocked off during about a 5 hour time block including mixing and cleanup. What made things run more smoothly was that they were old favorites. The ingredients are common and the methods were known, so there were no big surprises here. Everything ran pretty much like clockwork.
Inventory Your Ingredients
Ensure early on you have all of the components. Nothing worse that having to run out to get a bottle of vanilla after you’ve already started mixing dough. Verify that you have all components on hand before starting. Dec 23rd is not the time to realize that you need some bizarre flour that was hand ground by elves at the stroke of midnite. If your chosen recipe contains some obscure component and you have not acquired it by now, it may be time to jump ship on that recipe choice.
Know Your Methods
Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely hate making cookies and cakes. But these were not too bad as I have made them all before. It’s important to know your methods going in. I usually make the old favorites one day, do the cut out cookies on another, and the breads are left until Christmas Eve or even Christmas morning. If I have an open slot in between, that’s the time I’ll try something totally new. December 23rd is not the time to go trying a Gateau St. Honore if you’ve never made one before. Trust me on that one. I’ve seen lofty ambitions that headed straight for disaster many times over the years.
Do What Your Own Time Allows
Again, lofty ambitions that are excessive can be a bad thing when you’re on a holiday timeline. Consider streamlining your output. Back a few years ago I basically lived in airports right up until the holiday, so I cut everything back and did one outrageously rich cookie, some truffles, and a Christmas bread. I can pretty much knock off breads in my sleep, so everything went pretty smoothly. Back many years ago, I set my output goal way too high and basically was up until 4 am the day before a gathering trying to get stuff done. And do you know what? It wasn’t worth it. There’s nothing wrong with getting a bakery supplement for your family and guests if you have a good shop nearby. Unless building that Gingerbread House is a family Christmas Eve tradition, I suggest you don’t undertake such a project at the last minute.
Make Things a Team Effort
While I’m usually a solo baker, you can even employ the totally inept to roll the pans in and out of the oven and do cleanup.
Nothing is worse than cranking out tons of stuff and finding out you have nowhere to put it all. I suggest storage containers that are all the same size that are stackable. Makes things easier.
Relax and Enjoy
It’s really all for naught if you don’t take some time for yourself to relax and enjoy. No one likes a cranky Mom or a frazzled hostess. Accept compliments with good grace and a smile, and critics be damned!
Best Baking Links usually posted here on Sunday will return in January.
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