A Cookie Assembly Line: Efficient Cookie Baking for Busy
By Mimi Cummins
Cookbook author Mimi Cummins shares some tips for baking a lot of cookies
in a short amount of time. This is particularly helpful during the busy holiday
As a busy working mother, Im short on time, especially during the holidays,
but baking Christmas cookies is a family tradition Im unwilling to
give up. Over the years, Ive come up with many ways to make the process
of baking a large variety of cookies go much smoother and take less time
out of my busy life. You may want to start by
out my 6-day program for hassle-free Christmas cookie baking. In
addition to the 6-step method, Ive found an efficient way to prepare
a large variety of cookie dough with minimum fuss by setting up a cookie
assembly line. The best part about this process is that you can make 12 different
batches of cookies and only have to wash the dishes once!
This process assumes that you have already chosen your recipes and gone grocery
shopping. You will want to use your longest available expanse of countertop
for this. My assembly line turns two corners as it winds around my small
kitchen, but that is fine.
You may need to make some adjustments depending on your individual recipes,
but for most recipes, you can set up your assembly line like so:
Large mixing bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Fork for stirring
Baking powder and baking soda
Any other dry ingredients that are added to the flour in your recipes
Another large mixing bowl (or the bowl from your stand mixer)
A second set of measuring cups and spoons
Butter, shortening, margarine and/or cream cheese
Sugar (white and brown)
Vanilla and other extracts
Chunks such as raisins, nuts, chocolate chips
Any other ingredients that are added to the butter and eggs in your recipes
To avoid transferring flavors from one recipe to another, you will start
with basic recipes that have no spices, chocolate, or other strongly flavored
ingredients. Starting with your first recipe, go down the line measuring
out the amount of flour, baking powder/soda and salt into one bowl. Then,
combine the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla in your larger bowl as directed.
Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. After that, stir
in any chunks.
Next, scrape down the edges of the mixing bowl so that its fairly clean,
shape the dough into a ball, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Identify the recipe
by writing its name on the plastic wrap with a felt-tip marker, and refrigerate
it. If it is a slice-and-bake refrigerator cookie, form it into a log instead
of a ball, according to the directions in your recipe.
If you plan to bake much later, you can even freeze the dough. Most cookie
doughs freeze very well. Defrost at room temperature while still wrapped
in plastic wrap, and unwrap only when dough is thoroughly defrosted. Otherwise
condensation could add too much moisture to your dough.
When your first batch of dough is prepared, wrapped, and stored in the
refrigerator or freezer, return to the beginning of your assembly line, without
washing your dishes, and begin preparing the next batch of dough.
When you have prepared all the recipes that contain no spices or cocoa, move
on to the recipes that contain cocoa, and finally those that contain spices.
This way, you will only have to do dishes once at the end of the process,
and you will have several different kinds of dough waiting to be baked.
When all your dough is prepared, then you can finally put away all your
ingredients, clean up the kitchen, and do your dishes. Now if you plan to
finish your baking today, youll have lots of space for rolling out
your dough or setting out your cooling racks. If you plan to bake another
day, youre done!
Copyright 2004 Mimi Cummins. All Rights Reserved.
Mimi Cummins is co-author of the book "Christmas Cookies Are for Giving:
Recipes, Stories, and Tips for Making Heartwarming Gifts." This book,
"enthusiastically recommended" by Midwest Book Review, is full of baking
tips and hints, including nearly 50 recipes each with a full-color photo.
For more information visit
or order from your favorite online bookstore.