Put it in the (time) bank
The holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day is probably a baker's busiest time of year. Every year, I bake dozens and dozens of cookies and breads to give as gifts to family and friends. Chocolate breads and 10 different kinds of cookies are included on trays of treats that I deliver year after year.
All of these baked goods take time to make. Each loaf and cookie is shaped by hand. No machines here except my trusty KitchenAid stand mixer. Some cookies require further hand work after shaping such as placement of dried fruit or nuts decoratively on each cookie. Some cookies require icing after they are baked.
I am often asked how I find the time to make so many freshly baked goodies. What's my secret? Here it is ... my upright freezer.
A freezer is a busy baker's best friend. Many (but not all) baked items can be frozen either before or after baking. Not convinced? Well, think about the frozen food aisle at your local supermarket. There are breads, bread doughs, cakes, pies, pie crusts and other baked treats galore sitting in those freezers just waiting to be enjoyed. Your freezer at home is no different except that the treats inside were made by you.
PJ Hamel of King Arthur Flour once wrote that a freezer is like a time bank. I really like that analogy. Need two dozen cupcakes next week but your schedule won't allow you to bake them the night before? Put it in the time bank. Bake the cupcakes the week before when you have the time and freeze them (either frosted or not) until you need them. Company coming for a visit? The week before, mix up some scones. After you shape them, put them in the freezer. After your guests arrive, bake the frozen scones (no need to thaw; just add 5 to 15 minutes to the baking time depending on the size of the scones!). You can have freshly baked scones for breakfast without taking time away from your guests to do it.
Using the time bank a/k/a freezer allows me to start my holiday baking in September. Over the ensuing weeks through October and November, I'll mix up a batch of cookie dough and freeze it until December when I take it out and bake up the cookies. Or maybe I'll bake and decorate the cookies then freeze them until it's time to give them away in a gift box or try. Either way, I can do my baking calmly without rushing or in a frenzy (which is when I usually make mistakes!).
So whether you are planning for the holidays or next week's dinner party, give yourself the gift of time. Put your baked goods in the time bank. You'll be amazed at how time you can save.