Holiday Baking Tips From a Pastry Chef
Tis the season for holiday baking…
It’s hard to stay organized during the holiday season, with the shopping, gift wrapping, meal planning and of course the baking. In pastry school, we are taught the importance of organization and a clean, tidy working space. With the holiday season in full swing, I thought it would be helpful to share a few tricks of the trade to make holiday baking a breeze and also, still enjoyable.
Holiday Baking Tips 101
Make a Production List
One of the keys to staying organized is a good list. Creating a production list is one of the first things you do when you get into the professional kitchen for a shift. A list ensures you manage your time efficiently and allows you to remember all the steps/tasks needed to complete your desired desserts.
Many pastry recipes require multiple components and layers. Each layer specifies different baking times, cooking steps, and cooling requirements. A list allows you to analyze the steps to each recipe and plan it out. Recipes that require long refrigeration/setting times should always be made first. Items that have the least steps and shorter baking times can be made last, as they require the least attention.
Mise En Place (everything in its place)
This is one of my favorite phrases/terms within the kitchen, so much so that I apply it to my everyday life. A key to staying organized and ensuring no errors are made is to have all of your ingredients laid out in front of you, measured, and ready. The best way to do this is to measure each ingredient in a separate bowl or container. Yes, this means more dishes. But, this also means that your probability of error has decreased substantially. You can also rest assured that your thought process will be that much clearer having everything at the ready.
Read the Entire Recipe Before Beginning
I cannot stress this one enough. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screwed up a recipe simply because I did not read through the instructions properly. May I remind you that baking is chemistry, recipes are designed in a scientific matter, so the ingredients interact with each other in a certain way. One mistake and you have to start the whole thing over again. Read the recipe thoroughly, before starting anything else.