There’s a lot to do in December — office parties, shopping, craft markets, and a bit of seasonal baking. After all, nothing makes the holidays feel more like the holidays than something warm from the oven.
But let’s face it, we’re not all Martha Stewart. We mostly spend 11 months of the year not baking, and then when that 12th month rolls around we expect to pull tree-shaped cookies and perfect pastries out of the oven like we attended Le Cordon Bleu. Which we of course didn’t.
So we asked Mary MacKay, Head Baker at Terra Breads, and a bonafide authority on all things flour, butter, and sugar for a few baking pointers. In true guru-like fashion, MacKay came back not with a list, but one simple tip to make a huge difference to your holiday baking.
Chill your dough.
In the case of pastry, chilling lets the dough relax before baking so tart or pie shells won’t shrink away from the edge while they cook.
Chilled dough is also key to getting cookies that won’t spread out and turn from nice Christmas tree shapes into unidentifiable blobs. Because blobs aren’t festive!
MacKay also has a second tip: there’s no shame in letting a pro do your baking. With all the festive fun the season has in store, who has time to bake a panettone for example? That’s where artisan bakers like MacKay can help.
Terra Breads bakes seasonal cookies and pastries every day, and makes fresh panettone — a traditional Italian holiday bread made with Terra’s trademark sourdough starter, and dotted with unsweetened cherries and dark Callebaut chocolate. It’s delicious and available just until December 24, and we think it would look great on a table beside your perfect tree-shaped cookies.
Mount Pleasant Bakery + Café: 53 5th Avenue West, Vancouver
Olympic Village licensed Café + Bakery: 1605 Manitoba Street, Vancouver
Kitsilano Bakery + Café: 2380 W 4th Avenue, Vancouver
Granville Island Bakery: Granville Island Public Market