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Is it too early for me to bake some of these things?

s
Steady Habits Dec 22, 2008 06:09 PM

I'm baking various things to serve on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I can start baking tonight and will have various chunks of time tomorrow, Wednesday, and probably time to bake one thing Christmas morning.

I can't fit them all in the freezer, but have room in the refrigerator and cupboards. My storage containers until service are basically freezer baggies, plastic wrap and heavy duty foil (i.e., no airtight Tupperware, etc.).

I'm not sure of the order in which these should be baked, to ensure freshness, or whether they should be frozen, refrigerated, or neither.

1) Various cookies, mostly butter or sugar recipes. The hardest to store, I think, will be thumbprint cookies with jams and preserves (due to stickiness factor).

2) Genoise base for Baked Alaska.

3) Quick breads for Christmas Dinner. (I *think* those should be baked close to serving, right? Plus, they're...quick.)

4) Yeast bread (French or Italian baguettes) for Christmas Day.

I have a couple of other items I will definitely bake during Christmas Eve day, so I'd like to start getting some of these done if it won't sacrifice quality. Thanks.

  1. todao Dec 22, 2008 06:28 PM

    Because I don't know how large your oven is, how large your kitchen and how prepared you are with ingredients it's difficult to make suggestions on where you should start.
    Here's a formula that works pretty well.
    Review all of your recipes and decide how long (pre time + baking time + cooling time+clean-up time+packaging/storing time) you will need for each one. Factor in what other responsibilities you will have during that same time period. There's always something else to do (you'll have to cook meals, get some sleep, etc.) and a few unexpected things will pop up. Add ten percent to the total amount of time.
    Decide on a point in time when you want to have all of the work completed and be ready for an hour or two of relaxation.
    Start working backwards from the finishing time you previously established and subtract all the hours you allowed for each chore.
    Now you have a starting time. Then look at your group of recipes and decide which of them will "hold" the longest once they're baked. It's probable that not everything will fit in your refrigerator or freezer - where will you put it to hold it until you're ready for it?
    The sugar cookies will freeze using a layer of parchment or waxed paper between layers and sealing them in an air tight container that has been burped to evacuate as much air as possible. The quick bread, which may not be "quick" - depending on the recipe you use - will hold over for a day after cooling and sealing tightly in a paper bag. You can probably get away with that much lead time on the yeast bread also. I'd do the Genoise base last ...
    I would not try holding any baked goods in plastic wrap or heavy duty foil. A good quality freezer bag would be as reckless as I'd be willing to go for freezing anything. You can purchase HEAVY DUTY plastic wrap, intended for freezer use, at most major grocery outlets/supermarkets. As Santa for some nice tight sealing plastic storage containers for Christmas. Looks like you really need those

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao
      s
      Steady Habits Dec 22, 2008 06:40 PM

      I should have been more specific, todao. I do have heavy duty plastic freezer wrap. I don't want the storage containers, since this is probably the first time I remember wishing I had some in...ten years? I won't use them very much, at all.

      However, you helped me by giving me a sequence on the cookies, quick bread (yeah, it's quick--I don't complicate anything I don't have to), the yeast bread and the Genoise. Thank you. That's *exactly* what I need to know.

    2. coll Dec 23, 2008 01:15 AM

      I always make my cookies a week or more ahead, then store them in the garage until I need them. Temp around 30 -40. In giant Tupperware containers that rarely get used for anything else. I was afraid at one point that they were getting stale but they were just semi- frozen. When they came to room temp, they were as fresh as the day they were born. I also freeze all my breads if I'm not using them right away.

      1. p
        pigtails Dec 23, 2008 04:48 AM

        i would bake the yeast breads on xmas day, as I think that these will suffer the most from being less than fresh. the other items i would make ahead. the more fat and sugar a recipe has, the better it will keep - and the genoise will be fine kept in the freezer.

        1. julseydesign Dec 23, 2008 06:44 AM

          Perhaps you could make the dough for the yeast bread ahead of time, form loaves, and then freeze unbaked. This will leave less work for you xmas morning, but will still provide the freshness you want on those.

          2 Replies
          1. re: julseydesign
            s
            Steady Habits Dec 23, 2008 08:29 AM

            coll & pigtails--thanks for letting me know; that's helpful. I got some of the cookies done last night, those I figured were least fragile, as well as least perishable, and with a little bit of luck can finish all I need for both days tonight. And I might even be able to get that Genoise done tonight, too (if I make hubby feed himself a sandwich tonight, ha!).

            julsey--TY; I hadn't even considered that, but that's a great idea. I can have the old KitchenAid do most of the work w/the dough tomorrow night when I get home from the Christmas Eve party I'm attending, and, since I will have taken many of the cookies out of the freezer to take to *that* party, there should be room in there for the bread overnight. Much obliged!

            1. re: julseydesign
              todao Dec 23, 2008 11:41 AM

              Great idea, julseydesign. It's obviously the better plan. Wish I'd have thought of that myself.

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