tips on gifting baked goods
I love baking for others, but with a 20-pound feline sous chef and an increased awareness of food allergies, I take several simple precautions to safely prepare my edible gifts. Below are my tips for safe preparation along with some simple tricks for turning your baked treats into beautiful presentations of love.
Wash everything first. Before I begin to cook for others I wash everything I’m going to use with soap and hot water – my hands, dishes, countertops, etc – even if they were already clean. This helps prevent contamination from previous ingredients and any stray pet fur. This is also when the cat gets quarantined for the duration of my baking.
Use paper towels. Cloth towels, even when washed, can attract stray pet hair. Using paper towels to try dishes and hands can help eliminate unwanted debris.
Avoid silicone. Silicone acts as a debris magnet, attracting unwanted fur and ingredient particles. When baking for others, especially when avoiding gluten and nuts, I replace silicone baking mats with parchment paper and my silicone utensils with metal.
Use freezer paper. Rolling cookie dough or pie crusts between two sheets of freezer paper (shiny side toward your dough), eliminates contamination from your countertops. This is also a great method for gluten free recipes as no additional flour (or flour substitute) is needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
Disclose your ingredients honestly. I always let people know when recipes are nut, dairy or gluen free. I do, however, also remind them that although the recipe may be allergen free, our home is not. I take every precaution to avoid cross -contamination, but this information is crucial for those suffering from severe food allergies.
Make it pretty. Unique packaging makes everything taste better. Simply tieing treats in a celophane bag with coordinating ribbon or twine makes everything more special.
Box it up. For a more polished look, assorted treat boxes can be filled with cookies, candies or other small baked goods. To go the extra mile, line them with a sheet of parchment or bakery paper and place individual treats inside cupcake or candy liners.
Seal it tight. Mason jars of various sizes are perfect for gifting soups, puddings and pies. Had I been willing to share, my Chocolate Meringue Pies in mason jars would have been a lovely just because gift.
Use cupcake liners. Placing cookies or other small treats inside colored cupcake liners after baking not only enhances presentation, but also aids in portion control for large groups. People are less likely to take a handful of cookies at a time when it appears to be several “servings.”
Stick a label on it. For a personalized touch, custom labels with either your name or the contents of your gift add a colorful finish to your packages. You can print your own or order online from your favorite stationery resource.
Nashville Wraps – My favorite resource for fun boxes, bags and unique containers.
Tiny Prints – Their beautifully designed return address and gift labels are perfect for packaging treats.
Little Things Favors – A great resource for a large assortment of favor-sized packaging.