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!