Frugal Tips, Simple Baking

5 Practical Tips to Bake More Often plus a Cranberry & Almond Shortbread Cookie Recipe

I’ve got family members with sweet tooth (or teeth since I have 3 of them) and I love to bake for them. I get dizzy reading the long list of ingredients on the store bought baking goods and can’t make sense of most of them. They don’t come cheap either.

It takes a bit of planning to bake religiously every week but exactly what do you get when you bake your own bread, cookies or pies at home?

  • You get to control the ingredients- No more of what you can’t pronounce waltz into your cookies or cakes. You get to enjoy them without worry and stress. And less to no headache from not having to make sense (or google) of the fine printed ingredient list.
  • You eat more halal food- It’s disconcerting how much of the food that we consume every day may have pork and other meat derivative or alcohol. I won’t exhaust you with a list but you get the idea.The fewer of those, the better.
  • It’s frugal- Now, can you buy all organic baked good from a store. Yes, of course. But, will it save you money? Um, no. A One layer 8” cake with frosting and simple decoration from Whole Foods will set you back about $15. Your homemade version will cost a fraction.
  • It’s rewarding- It’s the easiest way to get more hugs and kisses from you kids. And you know how the adage goes, the easiest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
  • It wastes less- Fewer packaging, less plastic. You can compost/ recycle most of the things.

Sounds good, right? But here is the challenging part- How to make time for baking every week?

Here is how-

1. Assign 1 day/week for baking-

For me, every Wednesday is baking time. This day works best for us given our routine and schedules. I bake in the morning and the house smells nice throughout the day. Find a day that works best for you and your family.

2. Make a baking plan-

You want to know ahead of time what you will be baking to avoid last minute stress. If you’re a beginner, start with simple cakes and cookies. Ask your friends for easy recipes, and repeat favorites. If you find something online, read the reviews for tips. Whatever you want to make, write down or print out the recipe for it with a list of ingredient and detailed step by step instructions.

3. Shopping for baking-

once you have decided what you want to make, jot down the ingredients on your grocery list. You can take the recipe as well to buy the ingredients that’s listed on it.

4. Set up for baking-

I like to bake in the morning but I prepare for it the night before. If it’s not super hot, I leave the eggs out so they are ready for me. I also make sure the counter tops are clean so I have plenty of space for all the sheets and pans.

5. Have baking mixes ready-

You can save time by mixing the dry ingredients for your recipe ahead of time. Just measure all the dry ingredients, pour them in stacks and store them in jars . All you need to do is to add the wet ingredients and whip up freshly baked goods. Any medium/large empty jar would work, I like to use my pickle jars.

Bonus tip- Use a sheet of paper to make a cone to pour ingredients into a jar if you do not have a funnel.

6.Bake in batches-

I almost always double a recipe when I bake. I keep in one batch to last us the week and freeze another for  times when i wasn’t able ot bake on a wednesday. This double batch ensures thatt he kids have a snack/treat and.I have something delectable  to offer with tea when I have company.

A bonus tip-

Involving kids- Involve your kids in baking when they are ready. The little ones can add dry ingredients, cut out cookies and arrange them on the cookie sheet. The older ones can crack eggs, mix wet and dry ingredients, roll out pie/cookie dough and store them in a container. This baking time can be a great time for bonding, or teaching math (2 eggs+ 2 egg= 4 eggs 😉

 

Cranberry & Almond Shortbread Cookie Recipe

** Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.

Ingredients-

All purpose flour- 2 cups

Butter- 1 cup ( 2 sticks)

Sugar- 3/4 cup

salt- pinch

Dried Cranberry- 1/4 cup (chopped)

Almond slices- 1/4 cup

Instructions-

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Place butter, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer.

Beat until smooth for 1 minute, scrape the bowl with a spatula and beat for another minute. Turn mixer speed to low, and gradually add flour. Mix until dough forms.

 

Mix in almonds and cranberries with a spatula.

Form dough into a log shape, about 2-inches in diameter on a piece of parchment paper.

Wrap the log in parchment paper, chill until firm. ( I freeze 1 log for future use)

Take out the dough from the  fridge and slice into 1/3 inch slices. I use a Santoku knife for slicing these cookies.

Preheat your oven at 325 degrees.

Place cookies on the cookie sheet, 2 inches apart as they spread out a little.

Bake at 325 for about 12-15 minutes, just until the edges start to turn golden. Check them after 10 minutes to check if they are done as ovens vary.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet. Store at a cool, dry place.

I hope you can find some time for baking for your family. Feel free to share pictures of your baking endeavor.

 

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