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Posted on Mon. Dec. 10, 2012 - 12:12 am EDT

Make baked goods ahead

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The holiday season is a busy time for bakers.

There are desserts to make for family gatherings, cookie exchanges and office parties Ė even a gift basket or two. Bakers can save time and stress by baking in large quantities.

Here are some tips from Spice Islandsí test kitchen:

Bread and cakes. Bake breads and cakes at your leisure throughout the month. Let them cool completely and wrap them in parchment paper or plastic wrap followed by a freezer bag or container. When itís time to serve, take them out of the freezer and thaw completely before serving or icing.

Cookies. Cookie dough freezes well, so prepare batches in advance and bake them as needed throughout the holiday season.

Fruit pies. Make fruit pies in large batches by preparing it up to the point of baking. Instead of putting it in the oven, cover it tightly in plastic wrap and place the entire pie in a freezer bag. When itís time to bake, only cook the pie from its frozen state; reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees and bake it about 20 minutes longer than what the recipe calls for.

Baking tip. When baking cookies, only use two pans at one time to prevent overcrowding. Also, place them on different shelves so that air can circulate evenly between the cookie sheets.

Mixing tip. When measuring flour, donít scoop the measuring cup directly into the bag. Instead, spoon out flour into a measuring cup and then level off the correct amount. Bagged flour is packed tightly, and cooks can accidentally get an extra cup of flour by measuring incorrectly.

Ė Spice Islands

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