If you’re planning to bake up a storm of delicious cookies, pies, the best brownies and other treats this holiday season, you’ll need to use the right tools, pans and decorating techniques to make those batches of goodies a hit at holiday events. Baking dozens of sweet treats over the holiday season can be stressful and even overwhelming – you’ll need to stock up on specialty ingredients, make sure you have enough freezer space to store unbaked dough and frosting, and create a baking schedule so that your treats don’t get stale before major events.
Simplify your holiday baking plan and make sure that all of your holiday treats turn out perfectly by following these eight unwritten rules:
#1: Always Use Pure Extracts
Whether you’re baking up batches of almond spritz cookies or lemon drop sugar cookies, always use pure extracts in your dough. Even though you might only be adding a ¼ or ½ teaspoon of extract to your mixture, you can taste the difference between artificial extracts and the real deal.
#2: Stock Up on Extra Cookie Sheets
‘Tis the season for baking batches and batches of cookies and treats, which means you need as many cookie sheets and pans as possible. Having extra pans and cookie sheets on hand means less cleanup time between batches. Plus, you can “load” extra sheets and pans with the dough to save on time.
#3: Monitor Bake Times Like a Hawk
When the oven’s been working overtime for a few hours, it will heat up cookies and other smaller baked goods faster than usual. Monitor the bake times very closely – most cookies will bake up in less than ten minutes – so you avoid the risk of burning and over baking.
#4: Make Batter 24 Hours in Advance
Almost all cookie, brownie and other dough recipes taste better when the dough has been refrigerated overnight. Make some space in the refrigerator to accommodate for your holiday baking schedule.
#5: Use Eggs at Room Temperature
Eggs will bind easily with the dough when they are at room temperature. Leave eggs out the morning of your baking activities so that they have plenty of time to warm up. “Warming up” eggs in the microwave is never a good idea.
#6: Use High-Quality Wax Paper
Lining cookie sheets and pans with wax paper can save you a lot of time when transferring batches of cookies and other baked goods to cooling racks. Using wax paper also means you will spend less time cleaning and scrubbing your pans. Use high-quality wax paper that can hold a light load of cookies and won’t tear easily.
#7: Use Fresh Baking Soda
Even though baking soda has a long shelf life for deodorizing your pantry or compact fridge, it loses its effectiveness for baking about six months after the box has been opened. Buy yourself a fresh box of baking soda for the holiday season.
#8: Store Different Types of Treats Separately
When you’re baking a medley of sugar cookies, peppermint treats, gingerbread and chocolate cookies, make sure you store each type separately in its own airtight container before delivery. This will preserve the natural smell and taste of each cookie.
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