10 stress-free holiday baking hacks

The festive season is fast approaching and with December knocking on the door, it may not be a winter Christmas, with the traditional bakes known in the North, but the festive tricks are also up in South Africa.

Even for novice bakers looking to make festive cakes and treats, these holiday baking hacks will keep you stress-free.

10 stress-free holiday baking hacks

Iron table

You might panic if you think you’re missing some essential cooking equipment, like a cool rack.

Sometimes this can happen.

You’ve baked your gingerbread cookies, only to find you’ve lost your fresh rack or can’t find it.

An ironing board can be used, just remove the cover and use it as a cooling rack. It will give you extra space on your desktop.

Smooth the ingredients

It’s a bakers worst nightmare, either forgetting to add the butter and when you read the recipe, the butter needs to be soft and not straight from the fridge.

Soften butter, festive baking trick.  Image: iStock
Soften butter, festive baking trick. Image: iStock

You can soften the butter by cutting it into small cubes and letting it sit for a while. In about 15 minutes your butter will be ready.

The same can be done with eggs, just add the eggs to a hot bowl for a few minutes to bring them to room temperature.

Avoid wet skin

After tanning, one of the biggest concerns is the layer of skin that forms.

To prevent it from forming on top, cover the custard with cling film.

READ ALSO: Daily Hacks: Baking hacks that will make your baking experience easier


Baking tends to include ingredients like eggs, milk, butter and flour. For some, this is a red flag for a possible allergic reaction.

Substitutions for these ingredients include non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk (oat, soy, etc.), and for eggs, cream cheese is recommended. Cream cheese is believed to still impart a smoother, richer flavor to cookies than eggs.

Try dark sugar

Fruitcake and pudding lovers would know that one of the key ingredients to achieving the deep brown color is sugar.

Festive baking hack muscovado sugar.  Image: iStock
Image: iStock

Not just traditional white or brown sugar, but muscovado sugar – unrefined cane sugar that contains natural molasses will give a stronger flavor and color.

Grate the butter

To get flaky butter pie crusts can be easily made by spreading them evenly throughout the dough.

Grated Butter, Holiday Baking Trick.  Image: iStock
Grated Butter, Holiday Baking Trick. Image: iStock

To achieve this, grate the butter through a grater and mix in the other ingredients, advises baker Jill Nystul.

sticky mess

Measuring certain ingredients, especially sticky ones like honey, syrup, or oil, can be difficult to measure to the exact amount.

The trick to cooking is cooking spray, just spray the measuring cup or spoon and the syrups slide off easily.

No kneading

This baking hack this holiday season will likely bring some relief to those who want to do it. There are many no-knead bread recipes that you can find online, but you may not be satisfied with the results.

No bread step, festive baking trick.  Image: iStock
Image: iStock

To make this bread, which will look like you put a lot of work and love into it, take flour, instant yeast, water and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and combine.

Let the mixture rest for six to eight hours, make a ball with the dough and bake. Your no-knead bread is ready.

Make it look like you did

If you’re short on time or don’t want to bake, you can buy a nice store-bought Christmas cake, cookies and puddings.

However, if you want to convince others that you might have done it, just add some decorations.

Christmas cake decorating, festive baking trick.  Image: iStock
Image: iStock

Like making your own frosting, adding candied fruit and nuts and finishing off with warming apricot jam.

Make dessert in advance

Knowing your skill set and how much time you have will help you in the long run with holiday baking.

Vanilla Blueberry Semifreddo Ice Cream, Festive Baking Trick.  Image: iStock
Vanilla blueberry semifreddo ice cream. Image: iStock

Make simple desserts that you need overnight, such as frozen cakes, semifreddos or trifles or jellies that cure later.

*Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele

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