One way to reduce the mental and physical load during the Christmas season is preparing Christmas cookies in September. In this post, I’ll show you how to prepare Christmas cookies in September. And enjoy calm in December.
Trying to bake Christmas cookies has been quite a source of stress for me. Frankly, I can’t handle the never-ending bits of dough which have to be rolled out over and over. So, for a few years, I skipped it altogether.
But who doesn’t dream of blissful cookie baking with the kids? Merrily singing Christmas songs with a sprinkle of picturesque snow in the background? This dream might be unattainable in its perfection. But there are ways to bake cookies in time for Christmas without getting stressed.
Cookie baking in the fall
Cookie dough is usually a shortcrust dough which needs to chill. And this is what we will be using to our advantage. Simply remove part of the baking process from the Christmas season.
How are we going to do that?
You can freeze any cookie dough that requires chilling! Therefore, there’s no reason why you couldn’t prepare your Christmas cookies in autumn!
There are different kinds of Christmas cookies, though. So I’ll give you guidelines to apply to your chosen recipe:
Cookies baked from dough balls
Prepare the dough according to the recipe and use an ice-cream scoop to form dough balls. Place them on a lined baking tray or inside a lined casserole dish.
Cover the sheet with cling film and place it in the freezer. After about 2 hours, move the frozen dough balls into a labeled freezer bag.
For baking, defrost the balls on a baking tray in the fridge. Alternatively, bake them straight from the freezer. Just add about 2-3 minutes to their baking time.
If you’re trying out a new recipe, I recommend thawing the dough completely. That way you know what the result should look like. Some cookies don’t bake well from frozen while it makes no difference in others.
Slice and bake cookies
This dough is formed into a thick log and then frozen. Once frozen, place the logs in a labeled freezer bag. Ideally you add a note with required baking time and temperature. Your pre-Christmas self will thank you for this short-cut.
To bake, cut slices of about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) off the log and place them on the baking tray. You can also thaw the logs overnight in your fridge. Then use them up within three days.
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Cutout cookies or biscuits
Depending on the instructions in the recipe, shape the dough into a ball or disk. Then, wrap it in cling film and freeze it after cooling. Once frozen, place it in a labeled freezer bag.
Again, add a note with the next steps. (e.g. “Defrost in the fridge overnight. Roll out 1/4 inch thick. Cut out and bake at 180°C/350°F for 10 min.”)
Recipes that cannot be prepared in advance
This procedure doesn’t work with:
- delicate cookies that have to keep their shape
- complicated steps between chill times
- cookie doughs containing beaten egg-whites
Not sure your recipe will work with early prep? Rather err on the side of caution and make them fresh.
You could, however, conduct a little experiment when you make the dough:
Take a small part of the dough and test what happens when freezing and baking later. That way, you only risk failure for a small portion of the dough. But you will gain new insights for future baking adventures.
Baking cookies for Christmas
As soon as the season is in full swing, the most labor-intensive part of baking cookies is already a thing of the past. Now you’re prepared
- to bake a stack of cookies for the office Christmas party at short notice
- or to quickly rustle up a sign of appreciation for your neighbors
- and help with cookies for school events
- or to go for more elaborate decorations
- possibly even bake a bigger variety
You might even have the energy to bake those cutout cookies with the kids. On a snowy afternoon, of course. Making some almost picture-perfect memories.
A lower threshold for baking cookies
If you cover and pack your dough well, three months in the freezer should not be a problem. I know it sounds ridiculous but that means you could start prepping for Christmas in September.
Oh, and there’s no need to go for a full day of preparations. Only have a few minutes here and there? Go for a few simple cookie recipes and prep one each week.
The simple balance tip
Finding yourself in the throes of motherhood with little ones all over the place? Leave those elaborate recipes sitting on your Pinterest board. There’s still time to bake them when your kids come home for their college Christmas break.
Rarely have a minute for yourself? Don’t spend those few calm moments on making a dough. Sit down with a cup of coffee. Breath. Relax for a couple minutes. And get store-bought dough for baking. That’s what self-care can look like.
No energy to bake Christmas cookies with your kids? They will grow up just as fine. They might even be happier without this memory because their mom spent a few minutes recalibrating. Rather than trying to do everything as a frantic mess.
So be brave and acknowledge your limits. When in doubt, decide in favor of a quiet cup of tea by the fireplace. And listening to your favorite Christmas song.
You do itch to bake but find it extremely stressful during the Christmas season?
Then try this method and see what it does to your Christmas season experience. I’m sure you won’t regret it.
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