Monday, December 1, 2014

Making a Christmas baking plan, checking it twice (or daily)

I slightly overdo the Christmas baking.   A little.  I start planning about mid-October and start baking by late October (pushed back a week this year, until I was off crutches).  There is a method to my madness, there has to be to make sure I have plenty of supplies and everything gets done in time!  Here's how I get it all done:
Late October, listening to Christmas music and planning my baking.

1) Figure out what I want to make
I make a new Pinterest planning board every holiday season.  I repin there all the treats I want to make as well as recipes for any dishes I need to take to gatherings Thanksgiving - Christmas.  That way I know where everything is when I need it.

Reference - Christmas 2014

I start with my board from the year before and repin everything I know what I want to make again.  Not everything makes the cut but there are a few things that are guarantees (cutout sugar cookies, spritz, 6 layer bars, chex mix are all absolutes, even if I didn't have much time).  I also browse through my other dessert boards for anything else I've pinned that sounds good.  This year I added 2 new recipes and cut more than that.  So progress.

2) Make a baking schedule
I start with the things I know will freeze best.  That includes turtle & reindeer noses, jam filled butter cookies, shortbread, raspberry coconut layer bars, cutout sugar cookies, and spritz.  I almost always save my truffles (cookie dough and oreo) for last, not because they won't keep but because I dread working with melted chocolate.  I typically schedule 3 things a week, taking a break the week of Thanksgiving since I know I'll have a lot of other food prep going on those three quick days before the holidays weekend starts.  With 17-19 things on my list to make, it usually takes about 6 weeks to get them all made.

3) Plan supplies
I like buying all my ingredients early so I don't have to worry about it on my bi-weekly grocery trips.  This year I made a big spreadsheet with all my recipes and main ingredients (flour, sugars, butter, etc.).  Then I could easily stock up on ingredients and have almost everything at once, in case the mood struck to make something else or get ahead of schedule.  Fun fact: I will use around 5 pounds of butter just for my normal (not for get togethers) Christmas baking. 

4) Do the big grocery run
First week of November, my first shopping trip off crutches, Luke and I bought a whole lot of sugar, butter, flour, sprinkles, melting chocolate, and various other baking supplies.  We have had to get more flour and butter since and have to buy some lemons & oranges for zest still when those recipes come up, but other wise I've had everything on hand for a month.  It's pretty nice to just go to the basement for flour when I'm ready to bake.

5) Stick to the schedule
Even weeks we've had a lot going on, I've stuck with my schedule.  For the most part, I enjoy baking.  Luke's enthusiasm and desire to "help" can get in the way of that sometimes but mostly it's fun.  It's exciting to cross things off my list and see the freezer gradually fill up with treats.  At this point I have 11 things done with 6 to go (3 of those being chocolate dipping).  That probably means I should start getting some things out of the freezer so Matt can finally enjoy some too. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, next up is baklava, which I've never made before, so I'm going to go read the recipe 5 more times and freak out a little. 


Monica said...

You are so impressive! I have yet to make my baking list/schedule. I'm still having a bit of an aversion to sweets. And as far as baklava - you'll be fine! It's really quite easy - just a little tedious with the phyllo at times. I'm planning on making a batch soon as well!

Lauren said...

You're amazing for sure! I want to do a smaller version of this... I already have cutout sugar cookies in the freezer ready for decorating. I think i'd like to have 3-4 things I can share with some friends. We will see. Thanks for being so inspiring!

diana said...

Probably more crazy than impressive or amazing. I think I'll do less next year but I also said that last year.