6 Steps to Get Set for Holiday Baking
Here at Above & Beyond, one of our favorite parts of the season is holiday baking. Cookies and cupcakes and quick breads … oh my! Prep your pantry for all manner of baking projects in six easy steps:
1. Baking Basics
Your first step is to stock up on essentials, and if you’re not a regular baker, chances are good that yours have lost their oomph. Pick up fresh containers of baking soda and baking powder to make sure your goodies rise properly. Grab extra flours, too. If left unused for too long, whole-wheat flour tends to go rancid while white flour can grow stale or worse, foster little critters.
2. Sugar and Spice
White sugar is the most commonly used, so be sure to have plenty on hand. Dark and light brown tend to harden, so purchase fresh packages, if needed. It’s fun to keep a few additional sugars on hand for dusting and topping desserts—turbinado sugar lends a great crunch while confectioners sugar gives a pretty, snow-dusted look. Check on your basic baking spices and extracts—just give them a sniff to make sure they haven’t lost their potency. Vanilla and almond extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves are most commonly called for.
Pro tip: Want to simplify spices? Pick up a bottle of pumpkin pie spice to use in a variety of recipes.
3. Add-Ons Aplenty
Many classic holiday baking recipes call for candy, dried fruit, nuts, and chips to mix into the batter. Stock up on chocolate chips, mini chips, candy canes, and other candies to chop and stir in to give your treats a personal flair. Make sure you have a variety of nuts and dried fruit such as pecans, almonds, raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, and dates. They work interchangeably in most recipes and will let you customize your muffins, cookies, and quick breads.
4. For the Fridge and Freezer
Don’t forget the perishable ingredients! Tuck some extra pounds of unsalted butter in the fridge (many cookie recipes use a half-pound each). Make sure to keep additional eggs on hand as well. For on-the-fly baking projects, keep puff pastry sheets, filo cups, and pre-made pie crust in the freezer. They come in handy to make quick desserts and tarts with minimal prep.
5. Pretty Little Extras
Part of the fun of baking is decorating your treats for gifting and sharing! Channel your inner gingerbread man and get a variety of holiday cookie cutters for adorably shaped treats. Small tubes of holiday colored frosting, colored and decorative sprinkles, and sanding sugars will get you started topping them off. For a professional look, pick up piping bags and tips to create more elaborate looks with frosting.
6. Gotta-Have Gear
If you’re a holiday baking guru, it may be worth investing in gear to ease your workload and make your treats even more special. A stand mixer lets you put together batches and batches of batter in a snap. For an easy cleanup, non-stick surfaces rely on parchment paper or silicone baking sheets to line baking pans. Cookie guns are wonderful for turning out shaped cookies aplenty for gifting, while holiday themed cupcake liners up the cute quotient on cupcakes and muffins. And if you’re going to do all this baking, be sure to pick up plenty of pretty, holiday themed storage containers to share your goodies with friends and family throughout the season.
Check out our 12 Days of Christmas Cookies to whet your baking appetite!
What’s your favorite holiday baking project?