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20 Baking Shortcuts for the Holiday Season

Holiday season is upon us and we are all scrambling to plan our menus, holiday parties and family gatherings. With all the craziness going on, you're bound to be stressed.

From timing the pick up of your in-laws from the airport to trying to cook a full course homemade holiday dinner, you might need to cut corners in order to multitask, save time and your sanity!

Don't stress if you forget to buy an ingredient at the grocery store or are running low on time. Now remember, these shortcuts might vary based on what you are baking (pie vs. cookies vs. cake), but they will definitely help you if you are in a bind this holiday season!



1. Soften butter quickly by setting it in a water bath of hot water. Seal butter in a plastic bag first!

2. If you run out of salted butter, combine 2 sticks of unsalted butter with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Makes 1 cup.

3. If you run out of unsalted butter, remove half of the salt called for in the recipe.

Heating-Pad-Bread-RiseImage via the pink peony of Le Jardin


Doughs & Breads

4. Make bread rise faster by setting them in loaf trays and laying them on an electric heating pad. 

5. Doughs can last up to 6 months in the freezer. Make your crusts ahead of time so you're not up to your elbows in flour the night before!

6. If you are making bread and are out of eggs, add 1/2 of pureed banana for every egg needed. You can also replace 1 egg with 1/4 cup of water.

Cake-ShortcutImage via Baked Bree



7. Mix 1 tablespoon of gelatin with 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water as a substitute for 1 egg.

8. While your cake layers are cooling, place 1 piece of sliced bread on top to prevent the cake from drying out. 

9. Unfrosted cake layers can be stored in the fridge for a month if wrapped properly in plastic wrap. Bake ahead of time, defrost and cover with icing!



10. No time to handle or knead dough? Stick it in a food processor with steel blades.

11. Skip the basket-weave and lay strips across the top of your pie crust or make an open faced pie to save time.

12. Put your dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to cut down on the amount of flour you use to roll it out. You will need less flour on the countertop and rolling pan and your dough will be flakey!

Buttermilk-ShortcutImage via Cooking Light


13. If you're out of buttermilk, combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 1 cup of whole milk and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

14. Additionally, you can add 3/4 tsp cream of tartar to 1 cup of milk as a substitute.


Pantry items

15. Homemade pumpkin spice: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon allspice and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

16. Baking powder: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

17. Baking soda: substitute with baking powder with 3x the amount of soda called for in the recipe

18. Cream of tartar: 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar



19. Substitute oil for applesauce in a 1:1 ratio.

20. Substitute 5 tablespoons of oil for 1 stick of butter.

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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