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24 Useful Baking Hacks That Will Get You Ready For The Holidays

Holiday Baking Hacks

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

dipping a cookie cutter in flour

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!

Warm Up Chilled Eggs

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.

Related: The Best Shortcuts When You Need Room Temperature Ingredients

Grate Your Butter

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!

DIY Splash Guard

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.

Related: 10 Practical And Creative Ways To Use Paper Plates

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!

Related: 13 Amazing Things You Can Do With A Can Of Cooking Spray

slicing cinnamon rolls

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.

Fluffier Whipped Cream

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.

Soften Brown Sugar

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.

Avoid Air Bubbles

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!

Cooking Spray Catcher

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!

Related: 10 Things Everyone With A Dishwasher Should Know

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!)

Practical Pie Crusts

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!”

Cakes Into Cookies

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! ;-)

Make Your Own Buttermilk

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.

Related: Missing An Ingredient? This List Will Solve All Your Problems

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?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Food & Recipes

  • sour cream can be used for buttermilk…..like the recipe calls for one cup use……half cup sour cream and half cup water, stir until combined…..equal parts…..

  • Just wondering if you have sour milk…..can that work in place of buttermilk? I have actual sour milk but am hoping that it can be used in a recipe…..any ideas? thanks1

    • It depends on the recipe. For most recipes; yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk and sour milk can all be interchanged. However, if your recipes relies on a specific texture, then you’re better off not making any changes to the recipe. :-)

  • “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!”

    I HATE when I go to pre-heat my microwave and theres a cake inside that i accidentally melt.

  • Although grating butter to bring to room temp is a good idea for baking, I don’t advise using this trick for pie crust or biscuits. You have to use COLD ingredients to achieve a flaky consistency. Cut butter into even sized cubes, refrigerate until ready to mix with dry ingredients.

    • I came to the comments about this tip. I made the Smitten Kitchen blog pecan pie recipe a few days ago, making my own golden syrup per commenters who said it’s easy to make, and it was. In the lead up to the recipe Deb the blogger comments on grating butter and why she doesn’t prefer that method. She is an excellent cook and baker (and blogger, very clever), and I trust her judgment. My crust was the best I’ve ever made. I was inspired to lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the crust as I rolled it out, moving it to wherever I was rolling, and then keeping it on top of the crust as I folded it into fourths, laid crust in the pie pan, and unfolded it. It was so much easier not only to roll the crust out but to move it (without tearing it) into the pie pan and unfold it neatly. I’m making an annual reminder in the calendar app of my cell phone to remind myself how I did this so much better this year after many years of making pies a couple of times a year. Sorry, I got off topic.

  • I leave butter and eggs on my counter when I plan to bake. They keep fine & are ready when I get around to baking. Another tip is to use a kitchen scale to measure ingredients, especially flour. I measure by weight in a coffee filter then sift into large bowl along with baking soda, baking powder & salt. I have fewer bowls to clean up and accurately measured batter. I use the scale to measure my coffee grounds, too.

  • I also break my eggs into a cup, bowl, etc and add them separately to avoid getting bits of the shell in my mixture, it’s well worth the effort. I did get a bad egg once and had to throw the batter out and start over. When baking cookies I put a piece of foil on my pan to put the dough on and bake, saves having to wash the pan. I tried parchment paper but didn’t care for it. Jillee had the tip several weeks back on getting your eggs to room temp in a hurry, putting them into warm water, I tried it shortly after reading that post and it worked. Thank you Jillee for all your tips.

  • In reference to your tip #10 – retrieving pieces of eggshell with the large eggshell piece, I do not believe eggshells would be a safe and sanitary method. Eggs are not washed and sanitized before leaving the production line.

    • I used to use bread also and it does work great. I now use a big marshmallow to do the same thing and it seems to keep it softer longer. Both ways are great and not having to use a mining pick to get your brown sugar out of the container is such a relief.

    • My mom has been known to do this with other stuff stashed in the microwave. There have been a few times when I get ready to use the microwave and find that she has stashed food stuff in there. Usually, she does it to tidy up the kitchen before guests arrive.

  • *To soften a cube of butter. Leave it in the wrapper. Fill a cup with boiling water and let the cup get hot. Pour the water out and place it upside down over the cube of butter. Allow it to sit for a little bit. The butter will be soft and ready to bake with.

  • Great ideas. We usually when measuring shortening line the cup with a plastic baggie. Much easier and don’t have to clean up the cup . My sister learned this years ago in school. I spray the cup with cooking spray when measuring peanut butter. I also love using parchment paper when making lots of cookies.You don’t have to clean up the pan between uses. We always try to make a festive cherry cookie with red and green cookies. They are kind of like a shortbread cookie very light. You just mix them up. Form the dough into logs and refrigerate for awhile. Then slice and bake .

  • Grating butter: It helps to put the butter in the freezer for a few minutes to harden. I makes it much easier to grate.

    Egg shells: I always break my eggs in a separate cup/dish before adding to a dish. Break an egg, add to mix, break another egg, add to mix. That way if a shell gets into the dish, it is easier to pick out. And if the egg is bad (never had that happen), it won’t ruin the mix. Also, if you are separating the eggs doing them separately if you accidentally get some yolk in the whites, you don’t won’t ruin the rest of the whites that you are going to beat.

  • When measuring shortening or peanut butter start with a larger measuring cup say you need 1/4 cup, use a 1 cup glass measuring cup put 3/4 c. Cold water in it now add the peanut butter until the water reaches the 1 cup line. Pour off water and dump the peanut butter into the batter.Less mess easier clean up.

  • I make Peach Cobbler EVERY holiday season. I also make Sweet Potato pie, and I can’t even get a piece, as my family eats it all as soon as I serve them!

  • When making sugar cookies, I dip my cookie cutters in powdered sugar. I also use powdered sugar instead of flour to dust the surface and rolling pin. It has the same non stick effect as flour but doesn’t toughen the cookies.

    • I also do this and it does make a difference. I taught my girls to do the same and no matter how much the grands have to reroll their dough it is always nice and tender.

  • Instead of cracking eggs directly into your batter, try cracking them into a separate bowl. That way if a piece of shell lands in the egg and can be easily scooped out using the egg shell to remove it.

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