It’s not too early to make holiday baked goods and pastries

Prepare now to avoid chaos come time for your holiday party.

What is the secret to a less stressful holiday? Planning ahead and starting early, when things are less hectic. It is not too early to start some of the holiday baking. Some holiday baked goods need time to develop flavors. Case in point is fruitcakes and rum-balls.

Fruitcakes are baked and brushed with liquor syrup, then wrapped tightly in plastic-wrap. The liquor syrup is brushed on weekly for six weeks prior to serving, to develop the distinctive flavor.

Rum-balls are made with either rum or bourbon. They need to be made several weeks in advance to develop their distinctive flavor. Once the rum-balls have been made they need to be put into an air tight container so the flavors can develop.

Freezing holiday baked goods and pastries ahead of time are one way to take the stress out of holiday entertaining, Michigan State University Extension advises. There are some food safety tips to remember when freezing prepared foods. The freezer should maintain zero degrees. Packaging materials for freezing should be moisture-vapor resistant because air will have an undesirable effect on the color, flavor, keeping quality and texture of foods. All foods prepared for freezing should be labeled as to what is in the package and with a date.

Pie dough can be made, rolled, and frozen as dough, in pie pans or layered in parchment paper and placed in a plastic freezer bag or rigid container.

Pumpkin pie filling can be blended, put into moisture-vapor resistant packaging, and froze in advance.

About three weeks in advance of the holidays, various cookie dough products can be made and frozen. Drop cookie dough can be mixed, scooped, and place on parchment paper and froze, ready to be baked. Once frozen the drop cookie dough can be transferred to rigid containers or plastic freezer bags for storage. Cookies that are to be rolled out can be mixed and rolled into sheets. The sheets of dough can then be frozen between sheets of parchment until firm and then transferred to rigid containers for storage. Molded cookies can be mixed, shaped, wrapped in moisture-vapor resistant film and frozen. They will then be ready to be thawed, sliced and baked. The recommended freezer storage time for unbaked cookies is six months at zero degrees.

Baked cookies can be packaged with freezer paper or parchment paper between the layers in an air tight container. The cookies can be frozen for up to six months.

Quick breads such as gingerbread, fruit and nut breads can be mixed, baked, cooled quickly. Next, package the quick breads so they are air tight. To serve quick breads, they should be sliced while still partially frozen to prevent them from falling apart. To avoid quality issues, the storage time for quick breads is about two to four months in a freezer that is at zero degrees.

Yeast breads, coffee cakes and rolls can be mixed, shaped, baked, cooled quickly, packaged in moisture-vapor resistant packaging and frozen. Or they can be mixed, shaped, and frozen twenty minutes into the second rising. To avoid quality issues, the recommended storage time for yeast breads is six months to eight months in the freezer at zero degrees.

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