Baking often has some unintended side effects besides a big fat butt, though that’s certainly the #1 occupational hazard. It’s the leftovers. Oh the leftovers. In restaurants, this is rarely a problem because you can always find a use for the extras, be it a component in another dessert, a mignardise or a garnish. At worst you can feed the staff but at home, they tend to collect on the counter and in the freezer. Who has that kind of space?I’m not sure if you’re aware but the holiday baking season is fast approaching. I know – shocker – but somehow it always takes me by surprise. What this means is I need room ASAP for cookie dough. A lot of cookie dough. My freezers – and I have two – are stuffed to the gills. It’s time for a purge.
A quick inventory revealed more than I wanted to know yesterday. Let’s see … bags and bags of frozen fruit. Peaches, plums, cherries, raspberries, blueberries – a wonderful but annoying side effect of working a fruitstand. I knew my willingness to take bruised and extra fruit this summer would come back to bite me. There were quite a few unbaked mini pies and tarts in there too – an attempt at using some of that fruit. I also discovered what happened to all my missing tart pans. Humph.
Often I’ll make little individual birthday cakes for friends or small tasting cakes for potential clients. Adorable, right? Except this creates a lot of leftover bits and bobs. A few extra mini cakes, a bag of excess buttercream, maybe a little ganache. Multiply that by four or five. Oh, don’t forget the bag of royal icing on hand for last minute cake inscriptions. Sigh.
There’s usually a couple logs of cookie dough I’ve forgotten about. Maybe a quarter sheet of brownies. Some extra streusel. A few plastic wrapped discs of pie or tart dough. Or both. It starts to add up.
I despise waste so I tend to tuck these plastic wrapped bits into corners of my freezer under the pretense that I might need them. Sometimes I do – with these goodies on hand I can piece together a rather fancy cake or freshly baked pie in no time. The reality? This stuff comes tumbling out every time I open the damn freezer. Consider yourself warned that a brick of frozen chocolate ganache is a dangerous weapon.
A couple times a year, I purge. I make what I’ve termed “freezer cakes” with a little bag of this and a small container of that. The result is a lot of miscellaneous treats for some lucky souls. Well, they consider themselves lucky. I think of them more as providing a valuable service – helping me clean out my freezer.
When you find yourself on the giving end of this equation, you need to carefully consider the recipients. Frankly, are they worthy? You don’t want to give this stuff away to just anybody. I met friends and former co-workers for lunch yesterday and they fit the bill perfectly. An office full of eaters is ideal – especially appreciative eaters. You don’t want to drop this off for a bunch of skinny bitches on diets. Trust me on this.
In less than two easy hours I had a ridiculous amount of goods baked, boxed, labeled and ready to go: 3 blueberry blackberry tarts, 3 sour cherry tarts, a mini white peach pie, two small banana layer cakes with chocolate ganache and cinnamon buttercream as well as a box of dulce de leche brownies and chocolate cookies. Whew. I impressed myself with how easy it was.
Only it was a bit much for my friends, even with an office full of people. So I packed a bag for … ready for this? My dentist. Yes, it’s true. I brought my dentist sugar. I felt like a drug dealer.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: It’s a 10! So you have all this great stuff socked away – put it together and share the wealth. Though your intention may be to clean out the freezer, the results will thrill those around you. Better yet, bring some to your dentist. You’ll make the office staff giddy (really, who ever brings them sweets??) and will crack you up in the process. Maybe the dental hygienist will go easy on your gums the next visit and you won’t get the flossing lecture. Sugar bribing your dentist. I think there’s something to this.