What's Happenin'

A Sidelines blog

Good Food Hunting: Tips for Holiday Baking

December 12, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

Don’t let holiday baking ruin all your fun and the special moments around the holidays. Instead, embrace one of the busiest times of the year for your oven and showcase holiday spreads and your gifts with awesome skills and minimal stress. Baking is an inexpensive and special way to show someone or your horse you care. Here’s just a few tips to utilize what little time you have and make the most of your holiday baking.

Sugar Cookies pressed with a vintage glass leave you with beautiful results and zero hassle of cutouts.

Sugar Cookies pressed with a vintage glass leave you with beautiful results and zero hassle of cutouts.

Baking Tip 1: If you don’t have time for cutouts, don’t make them! They’re super labor intensive. Instead, consider sugar cookies pressed with a vintage glass or just a regular drinking glass. You can add colored sugar and make them even more festive. And if you have kiddos in the house, they can still help with this. Checkout Grandma Glinda’s Sugar Cookies or White Chocolate Dipped Gingersnap Cookies.

Gingersnap cookies pressed with a glass warrant sparkly delicious results.

Gingersnap cookies pressed with a glass warrant sparkly delicious results.

Baking Tip 2: On the cookie front, consider another alternative to cutouts in bar cookies! Rather that forming them into individual shapes or even scooping them out, it works well to just put the batter into a baking pan or jelly roll pan and bake the whole thing! Extra baking time will be required of course, unless you use a no bake option like Peanut Butter Bars with Crispies. Cut them up using a sharp knife and wrap in pretty paper.

Peanut Butter Bars with Crispies or other goods formed in a single pan make for easy prep and even easier cleanup.

Peanut Butter Bars with Crispies or other goods formed in a single pan make for easy prep and even easier cleanup.

Baking Tip 3: Try not to use a recipe you haven’t had sufficient time to try.  There’s nothing like waiting till the last minute and the recipe falling to shambles. If you garnered your recipe online, look at reviews or talk to people who have made them before. Lots of times they can provide valuable insight so if you do decide to go new this year, you’ll have a better chance of success.

Baking Tip 4: Learn how to properly scoop flour so that you get consistent results every time. Scooping flour with your measuring scoop can actually result in tough baked goods as you’re taking away valuable moisture with the extra flour. The best way to measure out flour in a recipe is to first fluff, aka stir your flour in its canister. Then you sprinkle the flour into your measuring cup and finally level off the cup. This should result in a perfect amount every time to give you consistency when baking. This is all determined by weight so if you have a scale, try it out and see!

Baking Tip 5: Enlist help! Wrangle a family member into helping your prepare, or consider a cookie exchange. Play hostess to a group of individuals and provide the drinks. Each person brings a decided upon amount of one type of cookie. At the end of the party, depending on how many people show up, you can leave with a variety of cookies from each member. Or just spend a weekend with the girls and bake cookies together, laughing and enjoying what the holidays should be about!

Fathers and other family members make for great helpers when starting in on holiday baking.

Fathers and other family members make for great helpers when starting in on holiday baking.

Baking Tip 6: Personalize your baking so it stands apart. Consider using a stencil and sift powdered sugar, cinnamon or cocoa over top. You can also do this with frothy beverages to leave your stamp on a not-so-permanent delectable.

Cocoa sifted over a stencil leaves a beautifully impressive (but easy) imprint. This is Queen Elizabeth's!

Cocoa sifted over a stencil leaves a beautifully impressive (but easy) imprint. This is Queen Elizabeth’s!

Baking Tip 7: Consider quick breads….after all they’re quick! You can make carrot versions for your favorite horse friend, banana bread or even fruit cake for anyone on your list. They’re usually one bowl wonders and if you make them in pretty disposable containers, you’re one step closer to getting the job done.

Paper Pans from King Arthur Flour making baking and taking so much easier!

Paper Pans from King Arthur Flour make baking and taking so much easier!

Banana Bread or Gingerbread make great gifts for families.

Banana Bread or Gingerbread make great gifts for families.

Baking Tip 8: Learn how to make cupcakes and more in mason jars! They’re another great way to present gifts and you can personalize the outside with ribbons, tags and anything your heart desires! Not to mention no cleanup after baking!

Cupcakes in a jar can be dressed up or down depending on your preferences and gifting tastes.

Cupcakes in a jar can be dressed up or down depending on your preferences and gifting tastes.

Baking Tip 9: Don’t fret if you don’t want to make goods from scratch! Store bought or pre-made gifts can be personalized so that the recipient would never know that you didn’t do the heavy lifting. Try adding special toppers that are unique, such as Harbor Sweets Sweet Sloops Ice Cream Topper, or fancy sprinkles. You could even buy extra of your toppings and gift them some of their own to have fun with!

Using store-bought is just fine! Jazz it up with special toppers or sprinkles to make it uniquely delicious!

Using store-bought is just fine! Jazz it up with special toppers or sprinkles to make it uniquely delicious!

Baking Tip 10: Have fun! Find a style that works best for you and embrace it. If your skills aren’t with homemade from scratch items, buy pre made and personalize. You could also wrap it and present it in a fun way. Just don’t get carried away in the stress, this should be enjoyable after all!

Have fun with frosting! Just add a bit of color and no muss, no fuss beautiful baked goods!

Have fun with frosting! Just add a bit of color and no muss, no fuss beautiful baked goods!

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday, and if you have any questions at all, feel free to email me anytime tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.