Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Baking Tips

Soon I will be starting my holiday baking.  Last year, I  posted tips for baking cookies and icing tips (see links below).
Baking Tips for Cookies
Icing Tips

This year, I thought I would expand and include tips on baking, clean up, freezing, and jump starting.

General Baking Tips                          

1.  Read the recipe from top to bottom before you begin.  You may even want to read it twice.
2.  Measure the ingredients exactly.
3. Premeasure your ingredients.  Prepare the work surface before the mixing and baking process.
4. Bring eggs, butter, and milk to room temperature before using.
5. Preheat the oven.
6. Use powdered sugar instead of flour when rolling out your sugar cookies.
7. Have uniformity in size for your baked goods.
8. Rotate the baking sheet half way through the baking cycle.
9. If you are baking bar cookies, brownies, blondies, etc. bake them on the middle rack.
10. If you are baking cookies, place them on the top rack.  If you are using 2 cookie sheets,  place the sheets on different racks at different angles for better air circulation.  Switch racks, half way through the baking process.
11.  Bake your cookies on a silver sheet  rather than a dark one.
12. Do not over bake your cookies.  Look for lightly brown edges and a dull/matte finish on the top.
13. If your cookies are getting dark around the outer edges and the center is not completely cooked, lower your oven temperature 15-25 degrees.  Your cooking time will increase slightly.
14. Cool cookie sheets between batches.
15. Once baked, take out out your baked goods and cool on cookie sheet 3-5 minutes.  Remove from cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack.
16. Store your cookies in an airtight container.
17.  If your cookies begin to dry out, re soften them with a  slice of bread or apple wedge wrapped in waxed paper. Place the bread slice or apple wedge in the cookie container.  Remove  after 24 hours.

Quick Clean Up Tips For  Your Baking Pans

1. Line baking sheets  with parchment paper.
2. Make a liner for your baking pans using aluminum foil.  Place your pan upside down and cover with aluminum foil.  Be sure to form the corners and leave a 1"-2" overhang.  Remove the foil.  Turn the pan right side up and place the foil in your pan.  Grease the foil liner if required by your recipe.  Bake as directed.  Let your baked goods cool completely before lifting out the foil liner.

Freezing Cookies and Cookie Dough

1. Double wrap your cookie dough in plastic wrap. If you want to be extra careful, wrap with an outer layer of heavy duty aluminum foil.  You want to prevent freezer burn.
2. Write the name of the cookie dough and the date on the outside of the package.
3.Let your cookie dough defrost in the fridge before using.
4. The following cookie doughs are freezer friendly:
                                   - shortbread
                                   - chocolate chip
                                   - peanut butter
                                   - sugar
5. You can keep your cookie dough up to six moths in the freezer.
6. Freeze your cookies in layers separated by layer of waxed paper.
7.  Freeze your cookies unfrosted.
8.  Bar cookies, blondies, brownies baked in a foil liner can be frozen in the liner.  Just let the baked goods cool completely, lift out of the pan, and wrap tightly in the foil.  Label and freeze.
9. Baked cookies last 3-4 weeks in your freezer.

Jump Start Your Holiday Baking

Want to get a head start on your baking?  Premake your cookie dough.  Pack the dough tightly in a covered container.  Store it in the refrigerator.  Take out and bake when ready.

I hope these tips have been helpful.  Have a great time baking this holiday season.  Remember, baking should be fun and not a chore.

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