The holiday season is here, which means it’s time for holiday baking! Over the past few years I’ve started baking more and more frequently during the holidays. I used to think of baking as kind of a chore, mainly because of the time it took and the mess it produced. But in recent years I’ve picked up a lot of baking-related hacks that have made the experience cleaner, quicker, and more enjoyable overall!
And if there’s one thing I like more than learning about brilliant time-saving tips, it’s being able to share them with others! Which is why today I’ll be sharing a list of some of my very best baking hacks. Whether you’re hoping to save yourself some time, keep your kitchen clean, or make picture perfect treats, these tips are sure to help! (Just don’t forget to invite me over to help you eat whatever delicious treats you end up making!) ;-)
24 Holiday Baking Hacks That Will Save You Time
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1. Easier Cookie Cutting
Dip your cookie cutter in flour before cutting out your cookie shapes. The flour helps the cutter cut through the dough with less resistance, so you can cut your cookies out faster and with less frustration! Add more flour to the cutter as needed.
2. Ripen Bananas Quickly
Here’s a great tip for the impatient among us, who want to make banana bread as soon as possible instead of waiting for our bananas to ripen naturally. To quickly ripen underripe bananas, put them on a baking sheet and bake them at 300°F for about 40 minutes. You’ll end up with perfectly ripe bananas for your cakes and breads!
3. Warm Up Eggs Quickly
Starting a recipe that calls for room temperature eggs, but you just barely took your eggs out of the fridge? You can quickly bring those eggs to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of warm water. Let them sit in the warm water for a few minutes, and they’ll be ready to use!
4. Soften Butter Quickly
When recipes call for room temperature eggs, they usually call for room temperature butter too. But there’s a quick and easy way to soften up a cold stick of butter! Place the butter inside a ziplock bag, seal it, then use a rolling pin to smash the butter out into a thin layer. Then just scoop the softened butter out of the bag with a rubber spatula and use.
5. Grate Your Butter
One of the keys to making perfectly flaky biscuits and pie crusts is having small pieces of butter evenly distributed throughout your dough. The easiest way to achieve this is to use grated butter! Grate your butter on a cheese grater, then stir the butter pieces into the other ingredients.
6. Instant Powdered Sugar
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve baked a batch of sugar cookies, only to realize I didn’t have enough powdered sugar to make the frosting or icing. But you can actually make powdered sugar if you have white sugar on hand! Just add 1 cup of white sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to your blender or food processor. Pulse the sugar mixture a few times until it gets to the right powdery consistency. Crisis averted!
7. Mixer Splash Guard
Punch a hole in the center of an ice cream lid or a paper plate to use as a handy splash guard for your hand or stand mixer. This will prevent unfortunate splatters as you add more ingredients to the mixing bowl.
8. Easier Measuring
Tired of struggling to get sticky substances like honey, molasses, and oil out of your measuring spoons and cups? Use cooking spray! Just give your measuring cup or spoon a quick spritz of cooking oil before using them. Even the stickiest ingredients will slide right out!
9. Perfect Slices
Use a piece of dental floss to make perfect slices of cinnamon rolls, cheesecakes, and other soft or doughy items. Dental floss slides through soft stuff much better than a standard kitchen knife.
10. Remove Bits Of Eggshell
Try as you might to crack eggs just right, occasionally a small piece of eggshell ends up in batter. Those tiny shell pieces can prove tricky to fish out, but there’s a much easier way. Use the rest of the eggshell to scoop out the rogue shell pieces! The pieces will stick together and you’ll be able to scoop them right out.
11. Fluffier Whipped Cream
The next time you make a batch of whipped cream, chill your beater(s) and bowl beforehand! Using cold cream and cold equipment results in fluffier whipped cream and stiffer peaks!
12. Homemade “Cake Release”
Make your own “cake release” mix to save time and effort on all your upcoming holiday baking projects! Instead of greasing and flouring baking pans separately, you can simply apply a thin layer of this oil and flour mixture to the inside of your pan with a pastry brush or clean fingers.
To make the cake release mix, add 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, and 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour to a mixing bowl. Whisk until the ingredients are well mixed, then transfer the mix to an airtight container. Store container at room temperature for up to six months.
13. Soften Brown Sugar
If your brown sugar is has solidified on you, there are two easy ways to salvage it. The first option is to put the brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with a damp paper towel, and microwave for 20 seconds. This helps rehydrate the sugar and loosen it up.
The second option is to use your oven. Wrap the brown sugar in a piece of tin foil, and bake at 300°F for 5 minutes. Both options work well, and they both can save you a trip to the grocery store!
14. Homemade Brown Sugar
If you find yourself in need of brown sugar, you’re in luck if you have white sugar and molasses on hand! You can use these two ingredients to make your own brown sugar. Just stir in small amounts of molasses into the white sugar until it achieves your desired color.
15. No More Air Bubbles
For perfectly smooth cakes and cheesecakes, drop your pan of batter onto your countertop a few times before baking. The force of the pan hitting the counter forces the air bubbles up to the surface, so they don’t get trapped in the batter. (You can do the same thing with cookies after taking them out of the oven; the impact will get them to settle faster.)
16. Picture Perfect Cupcakes
Use an ice cream scoop coated in cooking spray to scoop cupcake batter into the liners. Using a scoop makes it so much easier to put the same amount of batter in each liner. It makes it faster too!
17. Cooking Spray Catcher
Baking can get messy, so it’s always nice to find easy ways to minimize the mess. The next time you need to spray cooking spray onto a baking pan, do it over your open dishwasher. Any overspray will go into the dishwasher, where it will get washed away in your next load of dishes. It’s much cleaner and safer than getting the overspray on your floor where it could cause someone to slip and fall!
18. Add Moisture With Mayo
I’ve heard people swear up and down that adding mayo to the batter of a boxed cake mix makes extra moist and delicious! Since mayo is mostly made up of eggs and oil, it actually makes a lot of senes! Scoop a tablespoon or so into your next cake batter to give it a try. (But never fear mayo haters—apparently it doesn’t affect taste the taste of the finished product!)
19. Practical Pie Crusts
You don’t need an arsenal of special tools to make a beautiful pie. You can use a fork, spoon, or even tongs to create pretty patterns on the edges of your crust. Even using the most basic kitchen tools, you can create a crust that looks like Martha Stewart baked it herself! ;-)
20. Marshmallow Frosting
Use marshmallows instead of frosting for a fun twist on your classic holiday cookies! Just place a marshmallow on top of each of your cookies when there are about 6 minutes left in the baking time. The marshmallow will melt and create a fluffy, delicious “frosting!”
21. Turn Cake Into Cookies
Craving cookies but only have cake mix on hand? You can make cookie dough from almost any boxed cake mix by adding 1/2 cup of oil and 2 eggs to the dry cake mix. Bake them just as you would bake any normal cookie dough!
22. Perfectly Sliced Desserts
Get perfect slices of pie, cake, or bars by using a hot knife to cut them. Just run your knife under hot water for several seconds, wipe the water off, and get slicing! The hot knife will slide through your treats with ease, and every piece will look like it belongs in a food magazine! ;-)
23. Make Your Own Buttermilk
If you have milk and lemon juice or vinegar on hand, you don’t need to make a trip to the store just to get buttermilk! Simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of milk. It works just the same as store-bought buttermilk in any recipe.
24. Store Cake In Your Microwave
It might seem strange, but one of the best places you can store a cake is in your microwave! A closed microwave will protect your cake and help keep it fresh, and prevent it from taking up space on your countertop. (You might want to post a note on the microwave to remind everyone that there’s a cake inside. This should help avoid any melted cake mishaps!)
What do you like to bake during the holidays?