Baking used to be a ritual. Bread, cookies, pies and other favorites were all made from scratch. But these days, baking is often reserved for special occasions. It doesn’t have to be that way. Shortcut baking is all about preserving the flavors you get from scratch baking, while simplifying recipes with shortcuts or ready-made ingredients such as brownie mix, boxed cake mix or refrigerated dough. Follow some of these shortcut secrets and start baking again.
Read through the recipes to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment. Then, take out all ingredients and arrange them on your counter in order of use. Prepare baking pans, cookie sheets or muffin pans as directed and set them aside. Some simple preparation before you start baking can save you a lot of time along the way.
Shortcut Baking Tips
- Measure all the dry ingredients into one bowl. This means fewer dishes to wash. The dry ingredients can then be mixed together before adding to other ingredients.
- Use cake mixes, instant pudding and pie filling, or canned fruit fillings to cut down on preparation time.
- Make cookie dough into bars instead of spending extra time forming individual cookies.
- Make slice-and-bake or drop cookies rather than time-consuming cut-out or shaped cookies.
- Make a double batch and freeze one for another time. Cookies, bars, muffins, scones and biscuits can be frozen for up to two months if stored in airtight containers.
- For easier cleanup, line cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Make Your Own Mix
Keeping a homemade baking mix on hand is both economical and convenient. And most are easy to make. Recipes generally combine dry ingredients such as flour, sugar and leavening; wet ingredients, such as butter and eggs; and whatever stir-ins you prefer, like chocolate chips or nuts. Before you start baking, here are a few tips for storing and using homemade mixes.
- Store in an airtight container for up to three months.
- Stir prepared mix thoroughly each time before measuring.
- Lightly spoon the mix into dry measuring cups and level the top with a knife or spatula (do not dip measuring cup into mix or tap).
To help you start, here are some of our favorite Shortcut Baking recipes.
Oatmeal Muffin Mix
Mint Brownie Cups
Easy Caramel Orange Ring
Fudgy Macadamia Nut Chippers