As you may have noticed, I haven’t been able to upload as many recipes recently. I’m coming down from a pretty busy couple months at work, and if you’re a designer you know that hours are completely unpredictable – SO, how do I do it, you ask? Let’s talk about it.
- Pre-emptively take out butter
Don’t know what you’re baking yet? 9 out of 10 times it will need butter of somesort, so if you get home and can’t decide whether or not you’re going to bake, or what you’re going to bake, just take it out and have that room temp butter on hand without waiting another 30m for it to soften up. (Side note – do NOT put butter in the microwave to soften it!! It will change the consistency of what you’re baking – imagine trying to cook pasta with ice cubes. You can’t do that. No. Stop.)
- Sync up to commercials
Is your favorite show on? Do you have a DVR? Pause it. Grab your next batch of cookies and pop them in the oven, unpause. Thus, you have not lost any time and you can skip past your commercials. Is it already on tape? Great, now you can watch it at your own pace. No excuses!
- Pick your recipes wisely
There is a reason I bake chocolate chip cookies once a week. Not only is it crazy easy, but it’s something I know by heart and it’s relaxing because it becomes a routine. If you want to bake, but don’t have a lot of time, maybe pick a brownie or a box cake mix (I don’t judge) that doesn’t have a lot of steps involved.
- Always have too many ingredients
My biggest downfall is always being out of something. When you go to the store and you’re just not quite sure whether you have flour or not… just buy it. Worst case scenario is that you have 3 boxes of butter in the fridge… if you’re like me, that’s a blessing, since you’ll use it in the next two weeks anyway.
- Break it up
Let’s say you’re making cupcakes – How complicated are they? Filling? Frosting? There are a handful of components, and you usually don’t want to rush this (cupcake wars, anyone?) My best suggestion is to just break it up into a two-day thing. Snag your closest cupcake carrier, pop them in there for the night and hit round two tomorrow. This way you can hype them up to you coworkers 😉
- Pre-read your recipe
Its always good to know what you’re getting into – whether your in a time crunch or not, sometimes you’re not supposed to add the whole egg at once, sometimes you need to mix in parts, sometimes you need to wait 24 hours to eat whatever you’re making (waiting? no thanks.). Pre-reading the recipes can be a huge time saver in the end, and will also help in letting you know what ingredients you do or don’t have.
- Multi-Task & Prioritize
I think this is pretty similar to syncing up to commercials. Running the laundry? Add a load after your goodies go in the oven. Need to chill dough? Make that first, make dinner and then finish whatever it is you’re making. Knowing the recipe when you start and how it works is a huge help here, because you’ll know where the breaks will be.
- Grab the essentials
When you’re in the midst of mixing whatever it is you’re making, you won’t want to stop and go digging for a measuring cup or another bowl. Before you start, grab everything you’re going to need for the recipe (ingredients included) and lay everything out in front of you. I think pre-measuring all of your ingredients is one step too far, but it’s super nice to have everything ready to go. I think pre-measuring is fit for a cooking channel (wait.. am I recording..?)
- Have the right tools
Who wants to core cupcakes with a knife? Or use a ladle to spoon out cupcake batter? How about making frosting without a hand mixer (yikes. done this, not fun, but possible!). In baking, it’s super important and a huge time saver if you have the right tools. I’ve got 3 different kinds of cookie scoops, at least 3 different measuring spoons of all sizes, so if I get one dirty I can just grab a clean one, I have a cupcake corer & two different kinds of apple slicers. I need a zester, but I’m well on my way to a well stocked baking cabinet. Excessive? Maybe (come on, yes.) But when you have a hobby, you tend to get the best quality tools to do the job right.
- I’ll Sleep when I’m Dead
“There are 24 usable hours in every day.”
– Corey Mason, Empire Records
I think something that’s important to note is that baking is a time suck, and not the type of thing you can usually just whip up, unless you’re insane like me and bake a full batch of cupcakes on the spot while you’re hosting game night (this did happen).Baking can be divided into 3 parts:Prep, Make, & Clean up (and eat),If you don’t have time, you don’t have time. BUT. If you’re dedicated, you’ll probably stay up and do it regardless. Or you’ll wake up mad early and do it then (I’ve done both, but typically I’ll stay up). Especially if you’re in a time crunch, baking can be super stressful – there have been a handful of times where I’ve put pressure on myself unnecessarily and had a meltdown because of it. You don’t always have to bake. Recipes like these one bowl brownies are crazy simple and you don’t need to worry about excessive clean up or prep time. Cookies are hit or miss, cupcakes can be involved and are usually better left for weekend projects.
Using all the things I discussed earlier, and making a note of what your cutoff time is, you can be efficient as hell and make something wonderful happen in a short amount of time. Just remember to sleep somewhere in the inbetween, otherwise you’ll burn yourself and no one will be happy. And it’ll be your fault, you ridiculous overachiever.
I figure you can probably take half of these and apply them to other situations, like cooking or working out, but since I know baking and I am a stress baker (I tend to bake more often when I’m angry or don’t have reasonable amount of time to) I thought I’d give you a little window into how my life works.
If you guys have any other time savers, leave a comment! I’d love to make my machine work more efficiently 🙂