10 Secrets to Making Your Next Marathon Baking Session a Success
If you're planning to bake up several of your signature recipes all in one go—for a party, the holidays or personal stress relief—check out these top blogger tips to help make your day as easy as pie.
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Choose your recipes wisely.
If you’re able to be flexible about what recipes you bake up, feel free to simplify. “To make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible, I rely on simple recipes that require minimal steps and minimal ingredients,” says Blair Lonergan, who blogs at The Seasoned Mom to help parents bring order to the chaos. We think these easy baking recipes are just the ticket, but even if your favorite recipes aren’t exactly simple, you can still strategize with the rest of these clever tips.
Start with a clean kitchen.
The best way to keep your baking session clean and organized is to start out that way. Cookbook author and blogger Shauna Sever has a simple approach: “I always start with a clean kitchen—counters cleared, dishwasher empty, equipment clean.” Psst! These kitchen ingredients double as homemade cleaners.
Prep your gear and ingredients.
Jennifer Switzer, who blogs about nostalgic-modern recipes at Beyond the Butter, puts everything in its place. “I like to have all of the necessary baking tools and ingredients out and ready so I don’t have to stop to look for anything while baking. Here are 10 more pro tips that make cooking so much easier.
On the same note, Culinary food scientist and blogger Lauren Grant of Zestful Kitchen works smarter with two go-to tricks: “First things first, I get my scale out—measuring ingredients by weight makes the process very quick! I also precut sheets of parchment paper so I can quickly line my baking sheets and keep moving. Lastly, to avoid the ever-common softened butter crisis, I like to keep a few sticks out on the counter to ensure softened butter is always at the ready.”
Make a shopping list and check inventory.
Tara Bench, who blogs at Tara Teaspoon, has made food magic at big-time publishers for years. Her trick? Start with a list. “For me, an organized shopping list is key,” she says. “I make my list, pull out the ingredients I already have in my pantry so I don’t over-buy, then keep all my supplies out on a table for one or two days while I bake. No one needs to be searching for cinnamon three times in a day!” Get our expert’s guide to meal planning for more helpful tips.
Plan ahead for gifting.
If you’re planning to give your baked goodies as gifts, make sure you have containers. “The dollar store is my favorite source for cheap yet good-quality parchment,” says Shauna Sever, “as well as cookie tins and boxes for gifting.” Like Shauna, we are obsessed with these packaging ideas for food gifts.
For Tina Zaccardi, winner of The Great American Baking Show Season 4: Holiday Edition, timing is everything. “I like my cookies to taste as fresh as they can when I give them as gifts,” she says. “If sandwich cookies are filled too soon, they tend to get a bit soft. So, I store the cookies in an airtight container and put the filling in a pastry bag. That way, I’m ready to fill the cookies right before I put together my gift boxes.” Tina blogs at tinazaccardi.com.
Multiply your mixer bowls.
If you’re marathon baking on the regular, this tip from Shauna Sever is pure genius: “I have multiple mixer bowls to fit on my stand mixer to keep the activity flowing.” Purchase an extra bowl from KitchenAid ($55).
Have a plan for baking with kids.
“As fun as baking with kids can be,” says Shauna Sever, “it can also stress me out, so I make sure to save a few recipes just for my own enjoyment and then do a couple that are simpler and low-mess that the kids can help with.” Here are our favorite recipes to bake with kids in the kitchen.
Pair recipes with similar bake times.
Lauren Grant shares this clever gem: “If two recipes call for baking at 350°, I’ll group those together in my baking schedule so I can bake them back to back.” Did you know there’s a scientific reason recipes say to bake at 350°?
Clean up as you go.
Mom of five and blogger at Somewhat Simple, Stephanie Dulgarian swears by one rule. “I clean up as I go,” she says. “It is much easier to stay organized and find all the ingredients and measuring utensils you need in a clean kitchen. Plus, who wants to clean up after you’ve just spent hours on your feet? Not me!” Be sure to check out our Test Kitchen-approved cleaning products.
Embrace your freezer.
“When I’m prepping a cookie-baking marathon,” says Tina Zaccardi, “I take advantage of the fact that most cookie doughs freeze very well. For drop cookies, portion them out and freeze them so later all you have to do is place them on a cookie sheet and bake. You can also make slice-and-bake cookies ahead of time and tuck them in the freezer. Don’t forget to label everything with the name of the dough, the magazine or cookbook the recipe came from, and even the baking time and oven temp.” This trip would work great with these freezer-ready cookie recipes.
And Tara Bench has another cool trick. “My favorite tip,” she says, “is rolling my cutout cookie doughs into sheets and layering them between parchment, then freezing flat on a baking pan. When I’m ready to bake, half the work is done. I just pull out the sheets, cut, bake and re-roll the scraps once.” Brilliant.