It’s Time to Start Baking!

Happy December 1st! And as a dear friend of mine says, “the race is on”. For most of us it is now countdown and a race against the clock to get everything done in a jammed schedule of Christmas parties, cookie swaps, kids needing gifts for friends, teachers, etc.

The only solution I know is to have a strategy and start early. Baked cookies are wonderful, economic gifts that show your appreciation and care for those who provide services for you throughout the year and loved ones alike – and they are always appreciated! And they can be easy to fit into your busy schedule. Here are a few tips:

1) Most cookie recipes can be made ahead of time and sit happy, wrapped and stored in an airtight container or sealable bag in your refrigerator for anywhere from 12  to 48 hrs.

2) Most cookies freeze beautifully – it just captures their flavor and taste – especially if you wrap and package them in sealable bags as soon as they have cooled from coming out of the oven. Note: if the cookie has a drizzle or glaze, to not put it on until you’re ready to give it.

3) The clean up really isn’t that bad – one bowl, a few measuring spoons, and take the time to put parchment paper on your baking sheets – and your good to go! *Note not wax paper and not freezer paper; they look similar but do not react to heat to the same way 🙂 !

Buy a beautiful box – or decorate a bag yourself – and add some tissue paper and your good to go!

Happy Baking!


How to Store The Sweet Treats!

We’re now in the start of full swing baking and/or gift giving. One of the most blessed problems I have had the good fortune to stumble upon is receiving too many sweets at once. Now I can’t stand to waste – and even more to through away something that can be used – so I learned long ago the best way to keep the baked goods fresh. Now, this is assuming the high school football team doesn’t live in your house – then I would love to know how much is too much for them.

Here are my tips:

1) For brownies & basic cookies : To keep fresh for up to 5 days, store in an air tight container – it does not need to be in the refrigerator. To save for a rainy occasion farther off, wrap in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag and they will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. To bring them to room temperature just leave them on the counter (It will take anywhere from 30 min – 2hrs, depending on the size and if they have been unwrapped & separated). For the thawed baked goods, they will last in air tight container up to no more than 5 days, and the sooner the fresher the taste.

2) For cakes:  For a decorated cake, just enjoy and eat it! Keep in the fridge, and you have 7 days!

3) For nut, fruit, & pumpkin pies : (I am omitting cream pies). Pies will keep, if stored wrapped in the fridge for up to a week. To freeze, first make sure they are at room temperature. Then wrap them really tightly in plastic wrap and squeeze (if they will fit) into a ziploc bag. Otherwise wrap them in freeze paper. When you’re ready to eat pie again, pull them and let them thaw at room temperature until they’re thawed, anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes generally. They will need to be eaten quickly, kept wrapped in the fridge and lasting only up to no more  than 5 days, and the sooner the fresher the taste.

Happy Holidaying! 

Orchestrating Holiday Baking Chaos

I get asked all the time “How can I make 2 pies and a dozen cookies in the same day and still get other things done?” or “I don’t  have time a solid two hours to designate to just baking – I love it but I just can’t. How do you do it?”. These days time is our most precious commodity, and there is not a minute to be wasted. Believe it or not, the juggle of how to get dozens of orders ready to be picked up at the same time is something I deal with all the time at the bakery. Right now it’s the balance of the holiday orders to be picked up on Wednesday with the big orders that are constantly going out for companies as their thank you gifts. All must be fresh, delicious, and as perfect as I can make them.

Here are my tips :

1) Once you know what you’re going to be making, take the time to write out and compile all of the ingredients needed – and then go through your cabinets to see what you have. This is particulary helpful if you’re baking more than one thing – like a pumpkin pie and spice cookies. It will also help you cut down and walking back and forth in circles, amusing any animals that might underfoot.

2) See what can be made ahead of time. For example, pie dough can be made up to 5 days ahead and sit in the back of your refrigerator, or stored in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to a month ahead. Most cookie doughs can be made and stored in a sealable bag in the refrigerator for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

3) If pressed for time and making a large quantity, make the cookie dough ahead of time and then come back and actually bake the cookies. (Just store according to tip #2). This way, when you want cookies, you can take out the dough, let it soften until it’s a rollable, or pliable to spoon on a cookie sheet and bake. And all the work will be just baking, stripping them off the tray and doing it all again. They are also much tastier than the pre-made cookie dough from the grocery store cookie section. It also breaks up the clean up, which if not a time saver is a physiological help! I don’t know about you but seeing a huge pile of dishes in the sink waiting to be washed just does me in!

4)This brings me to my next tip: Clean as you go. I’m not kidding; nothing will make you feel more tired and defeated than seeing a looming mound of filthy dishes waiting for your attention. Now, I believe in child labor (for the politically correct only to a character building – helpful extent), and if you have kids (pre-teen or teenage yeas), this can be a perfectly helpful job for them to do. 🙂 Of course, I always counted that as chores when raising my daughters – so it helped that it was covered in their allowance.

5) Enjoy the process! You’re making something delicious and to be savored! So pour a glass of wine or your favorite mug of hot beverage (tea, coffee, cocoa…), turn on your favorite music and have fun!

All the best to the baking enthusiasts in this holiday season!