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redkaga 10-09-2012 10:04 AM

Baking tips
This year I'm throwing out all (or most) of my baking ingredients on the 1st of November. I'm going to make a list of what I will likely be baking over the next couple months and purchase new ingredients for this holiday season.

Over the years I've found that I start baking for the holidays and one of two things happen: 1. I think I have something and I don't, or I don't have enough of it 2. something as gone bad and I don't know it. I've addressed the first problem with my November 1st purge. As for the second, anyone who watches cooking shows knows that some ingredients go bad even if they don't look it. Baking soda and powder are probably the worst, but flour and spices suffer a similar fate.

Also, when you're buying your spices this year I suggest everyone consider whole spices such as nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. The difference is amazing when you grind them right into your pumpkin pie or spice cookie dough. Plus, you don't have to worry so much about them going bad or losing flavor since you're releasing the flavor and oils when you grind them. I just use a microplane grater, but be careful because the flavors will be stronger than the same amount in a recipe using ground spices. You might want to cut back a little in your first attempt. Oh, and the exception is cinnamon. Cinnamon sticks look good in drinks or decorations, but they don't grind well into recipes. Buy a good ground cinnamon for baking, and try to avoid the cheap cinnamon dust.

So those are my tips right now. Does anyone else have baking tips for this holiday season?

GingerMel 10-09-2012 10:59 AM

Thanks for this. I need to take a more careful inventory of what I've got in the cupboard. I had to go back to the grocery store twice this weekend because of things I thought I had that I didn't or didn't have enough of.

Fifiblox 10-14-2012 03:42 AM

Great tips! I also have the numerous runs to the shops for things I forget.

Chef Matt 10-20-2012 02:13 PM

Great tips! I cook and bake year round and try to reduce the amount of processed foods that I feed my family. Because of this, I rarely have anything that spoils before I can use it. What I really need is to find a grocery store that will deliver to the house.

merrymistletoe 10-20-2012 06:20 PM

i guess my only tip is to find recipes for things w/ very little ingredients & very easy to prepare. if somethings available that saves me a step or 2 i get it!

whychristmas 10-21-2012 02:11 PM

Quick tips here for making a 'victoria sponge' cake. Weigh the eggs (in the shells) and then use the same amount of flour/sugar/fat (butter or marg) as the eggs weigh - makes the cake really light and fluffy!

Christmasstar 10-21-2012 02:51 PM

I do a lot of baking so my ingredients do not have time to go bad. Also, i buy my spices a little at a time from a specialty store so I am always sure they are fresh.

Festive Spirit 10-22-2012 03:40 AM

I recently threw out a few items so I'm happy I know what I need to replace before realising in the middle of making something. This year I would really like to bake more during the holidays. You are so right about using the whole spices too!

Minta 10-22-2012 08:59 AM

Great tips!

When it comes to butter makes sure you are using the correct type - Salted or UnSalted. Using the wrong one will make a big difference.

Also now is a good time to inspect your tupperware, rubbermaid containers that you store your goodies in. Some crack over time and use. Nothing like pulling them out to use to find a bottom or lid had cracked.

Also when taking inventory of your spices, also take inventory of your foil, plastic wrap, wax paper and plastic baggies. I use all of these in my baking.

If trying a new recipe, its best to make it now and do a trial run to ensure it is something you want to add to your holiday baking list. Nothing like trying a recipe only to find out you dont like it.

Gingerbread Latte 10-22-2012 09:30 AM

Great thread, some wonderful ideas here! Think I'll go inventory my pantry tonight...:%

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