How to surive and even LOVE Christmas baking

December 9, 2015 § 6 Comments

I’ve been meaning to do a cook-athon for Christmas forever. My ideal life includes a house big enough to have lots of family and friends over for Christmas.We’re still working towards that big house but this year I made the cook-athon a reality. You gotta start somewhere and I started from cookies. 🙂

We had scheduled a Christmas dinner with many of our Romanian friends and I used that as an opportunity to offer them a bag of cookies. Since the dinner was just before St. Niklas, the context could not have been more perfect. This time of the year is incredibly busy for everyone and I’m no exception. A lot of people asked me how I managed to bake dozens of cookies while travelling, working full-time and dealing with a nasty stomach bug (with all that entails).So for everyone who asked, here’s what I put in place to make that happen:

1.Know why you’re doing it – intention is really important when you are undertaking a complex project; there will be moments when you want to abort ship and that is when you need to go back to your intention. Trust me, between a million bowls to wash, a conference call and unyielding to-do lists, you will want to go back often to why you’re doing what you’re doing. For me, it was easy: I wanted to give joy.

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2.Know your volumes: start from how many people you’re baking for and determine how many cookies everyone will receive. That will give you a good indication of how many ingredients you need. Write that down on your shopping list.

3. Stock up: speaking of ingredients, I can’t say this enough… but please make sure you do your shopping well ahead of time. It’s terrible to realise you’ve ran out of powedered sugar exactly when you need it most. Make sure your kitchen is well stocked with supplies

4. Find and print your favourite recipes – I didn’t exactly follow my own advice here. I made three kind of cookies, and they were all new to me. I took a major risk and this time it was a success, but I don’t think I’d do this again. The part about printing your recipes? It’s just that you don’t want your ipad between the eggs and the flour, that’s all… :

5. START WELL AHEAD: OK, I can’t recommend this enough. I think the number one reason why baking hundreds of cookies for holidays is feasible is because you can actually start ahead on this crazy task! In fact, the more you allow the cookies to sit, the better they will taste. To make this happen, I simply blocked out in my calendar when I would need to do what and worked around the other tasks on my agenda to make sure I don’t start feeling overwhelmed.

6. Divide and conquer: Baking a ton can feel overwhelming so you will want to take baby steps. I made the dough the evening before and baked the cookies first thing next morning. This way everything felt a bit more manageable and the recipes actually recommended that you let the dough sit for a few hours. At some point I was also baking in batches and going shoe shopping in between… 🙂

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7. Enlist help. Again, here I need to take my own advice because I did 95% of this by myself. Cookie baking can be done with others and it certainly can be done with kids, who would love it.

8. Have FUN with it! Remember often that you love the process. Put on some Christmas music, light a candle, get comfy and zone out.  If you create a ritual or a game around this I guarantee it will feel amazing.

9. Storing: make sure you keep the cookies in an air-tight container. I used tinfoil to separate the different kinds of cookies and they kept really well. I then put them in individual baggies the evening before the dinner and wrapped them minimally.

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10. Watch the reactions! By and large, my friends were really surprised with the gift and I dare say that the cookies were well appreciated. I really think there is nothing more wonderful that home-made food gifts. There is something sweet and caring about offering someone the fruit of your labour. I imagined my friends savouring the cookies with a glass of milk in the morning and… I’m ready to do this again next year on an even bigger scale. 🙂

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§ 6 Responses to How to surive and even LOVE Christmas baking

  • iuliaBe says:

    I like baking too, and I don’t like to do it under pressure… in fact I don’t like to be under pressure at all; I like to take my time to enjoy the work i’m doing, baking and cooking inclusive (and usually that mean I have a glass of red wine around 🙂 )
    for Christmas I will bake our traditional cake “cozonac” and I’ve already planned my schedule and bought all the ingredients for that 🙂

    • Sinziana says:

      Yes exactly, it’s the baking/cooking under pressure that drives me nuts! I tend to make mistakes in the kitchen when I’m in a hurry or the food will end up tasting strange… Iulia, your recipe for cozonac is becoming famous, perhaps you will share it with us? I’ve never made cozonac and I’m hoping your recipe not the one where you have to hit the dough 100 times against the table. :)))))

  • Daniela E. says:

    Love it! I love baking, love everything about it! The smells, the textures, the shapes! I especially love baking when my husband is not at home, just to catch that glimpse in his eyes when he comes home and finds the house smelling with deliciousness! And my friends have never complained either when I present them with some new bakery creation, so it’s a win-win all around! Your cookies look splendid! Such a thoughtful and heart-warming gift!

    • Sinziana says:

      Thank you, Daniela, it sounds like you and me are on the same wavelength with regards to baking! 🙂 I also take a lot of pleasure in seeing my fiancé’s reaction when he comes home to me baking (I guess this is an ancient pattern, but oh well). The cookies were good and in retrospect, very easy to make! I choose recipes that are moderately difficult and have wonderful results! 😀

  • arakelian says:

    after a childhood spent before Christmas/big events cooking hardly and cleaning hardly now I moved easily to minimalism: the Christmas is the anniversary of the birth of Jesus not of the food!. There are holidays for this: to spend time calm and to enjoy it.
    So less cooking and less eating! more singing!. I have some recipes that I cook only for big celebrations, but I think now because I have a better financial situation to order to another lady cook homemade – I will have time and joy, she will survive and my appreciations.

    And I am going to a holiday, again :). I hope I can spend in Tenerife/ Gran Canary all my winter holidays on the beach!

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