Sunday, December 21, 2014

How to Host a Successful Cookie Bake

Our annual Christmas Cookie Bake is an event I look forward to each year and this year was no exception.
The morning starts off with a yummy breakfast (along with a few mimosas!), then we get into full baking mode (after about 30 minutes of singing and dancing to Teresa's Top 40 playlist and Last Christmas by Wham).
After all, cookie baking is serious business, you know?

After several hours of baking (more singing and dancing), we break for lunch which is usually some type of homemade soup and sandwiches, but this year I got a break from cooking and the girls brought lunch!
Normally I'll share a recipe for one of the cookies we baked that day, but this year I thought I'd do something different and share some tips for hosting your own cookie bake! We have so much fun that I strongly encourage everyone to start a new tradition and host your own cookie bake! I promise you that it will become an event that you, your family and friends look forward to each year just like I do...
Our cookie bake is different from a cookie exchange because we're not just getting together to eat and exchange cookies (although an awful lot of eating does go on), we actually bake cookies together! Have you ever been alone in your kitchen baking and wished you had company, well then this is the event for you!
Over the years we've fine tuned the Cookie Bake, going from an all day, exhausting event (and I'm not exaggerating here) to about 6 hours. This may seem like a lot, but when you see the payoff in cookies, you'll agree that it's well worth it.


Tips for Hosting a Successful Cookie Bake:

1. Limit your group to 4-5 people. Anything more than that and it become difficult to manage, plus you have to increase the amount of cookies you need to bake!

2. Dress comfortably and don't wear heels. You know who you are people...

3. Be courteous and arrive on time. Again, you know who you are people...

4. The hostess should have a double oven!!! (triple exclamation points). I've moved a few times over the years and trust me when I say that a single oven just won't cut it.

5. Plan to exchange one dozen of each type of cookie. If you have 5 people participating, that means you bake 5 dz of each cookie.

6. Finalize the list of cookies being made ahead of time and try to make sure you have a good assortment, cover your flavor base - chocolate, lemon, with nuts and without, bar cookies, drop cookies, jam filled cookies and no bake cookies.  Throw in some candy, fudge or mini loaves of quick bread while you're at it! It's the holidays baby, indulge!

7. Make sure you include the classics, the cookies people look forward to and expect during the holidays like gingerbread men and/or sugar cookies.

8. Unless you're super woman, think long & hard about baking sandwich cookies. Each sandwich cookie requires 2 cookies so you have to double the amount you're making. If you need to make 5 dz cookies, that's a total of 10 dz cookies you need to make. Yikes!

9. Cookie dough that requires chilling should be made in advance and brought to the event already chilled. Better yet, bring the cookies already baked and decorate them the day of!

10. If possible, try to have your guests pick recipes that bake at the same temperature (ie 350f). This ensures everyone can bake their cookies at any given time without having to wait to switch the oven temperature.

11. Set up a work space for ingredients - put flour and sugar in large canisters easy for everyone to access. I usually provide all of the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt & extracts that everyone needs, then each guest just needs to bring their own eggs, butter and other specialty ingredients needed for their recipes (ie chocolate, nuts etc..)

12. Set up work stations for each person & have them be responsible for cleaning their area when they're done. This ensures you're not left with a mess at the end of the day.

13. Try to have ample equipment including cookie sheets and cooling racks. If you don't have extra mixers, measuring cups/spoons, baking sheets, cooling racks etc..., ask your guests to bring some from home. One year, I gave each guest a set of measuring spoons as a party favor.

14. If possible, set up a separate area for cooling, decorating and displaying. I usually set this up in a different room.

15. Have everyone take turns washing dishes. Busting suds never hurt anyone!

16. Remind everyone to bring their own containers to take their cookies home. This may seem obvious, but this is one of those last minute details that's easy to forget. Carrying 5 dozen cookies home in your hands could get pretty messy, plus how would you drive?

17. Last but not least, share. Baked goods are made for sharing with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Pick up cute packaging for gift-giving, create a cookie tray to share at work. There's nothing better than a gift baked from the heart. People will love you for it.

So there you have my tips for hosting a successful cookie bake! At the end of the day, the main point is to have fun, so don't stress. Cookies will be burnt, sugar will be spilled and ovens may catch on fire (true story), but you will have delicious cookies and a heart full of wonderful memories to take with you.

Happy holidays & happy baking everyone! Wishing you sweet times and sweet memories always...

~ Faye & Yvonne LiveBakeLove

Although we've been having our annual cookie bake for over 12 years, we've only been able to chronicle the event since starting LiveBakeLove.

Read more about past cookie bakes and get recipes here...

Cookie Bake 2011 click here
Cookie Bake 2012 click here
Cookie Bake 2013 click here

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