Ohhhh, the holidays. Let’s be real; it's a wild and crazy time. A true dichotomy of stress and pressure along with unmatched sentimentality and joy. Speaking of pressure, there sure are a lot of opinions out there on “How to do holidays right,” especially when it comes to food. My approach when it comes to holiday baking is straightforward: Make it worth it, and keep things simple
I honed the art of simplifying holiday cooking while working in restaurant kitchens in my early 20s. Thanksgiving was our busiest week of the year… I would work a 20-hour shift baking pies and then race home to begin preparing my own Thanksgiving meal. Needless to say, I was not crafting a croquembouche or making panettone for my family. Instead, I stuck with tried-and-true recipes that felt special without being unnecessarily complicated. I firmly believe that a high-pressure situation is not the time to try out a new recipe. If you’ve got 10+ people coming over for dinner, you have to stick with what you know will deliver.
Now, thanks to Wild Rye, you can confidently whip up a vanilla cake served with cooked apples and store-bought caramel sauce. Or bake a single layer olive oil cake and prepare a quick cranberry orange compote while it’s baking to serve alongside it. We have spent years perfecting these recipes and have packaged the ingredients in an easy-to-follow package. I promise you: it’s easy, delicious, and will absolutely deliver.
Remember this: baking should be fun! One of my mantras is: stress is never included on the guest list. If I’m tackling a baking project, easy or complicated, it HAS to be fun. The holidays are my favorite time to invite a friend or loved one into the kitchen with me for a little quality time. I’ve been known to FaceTime my bestie while mixing up a chocolate cake to bring with me to a dinner party or invite my friend’s kids to join me while I’m making almond flour pancakes on those glorious mornings when the big holiday is over but school’s still out and everyone is still in sleep in, hang out in pjs, snuggle mode. Baking can be a great bonding experience, spending quality time together to create a really delicious outcome. Win, win!
The holidays can be rife with indulgence fatigue. We’ve all been there. Said yes to the store-bought cookies in the conference room, grabbed some old candy from the bowl on the reception desk, and so on, until we have over-indulged on completely unsatisfying (and “not worth it”) treats. For me, it’s really important to feel good about what I’m eating. It's just more fun eating a cake that I know was made with the highest quality ingredients, by someone I love. My approach, especially during the holidays, is to say NO to the food that’s just okay and say HELL YES to the food I know is great. And while I hesitate to toot my own horn, I deeply believe that all of the mixes you can buy from Wild Rye are a definitive HELL YES. They have been labored over and loved on until they met the standard of a well-respected bakery. They are crazy easy to make, but they will bring bakery-quality cakes and pancakes into your home…(toot toot!)
Reflecting on those crazy busy weeks as a pastry chef during the holidays gets my heart rate up a little bit! So let’s take a deep collective breath and remember what this season is all about. Maybe even promise to let go of some of the pressure to curate a perfect holiday setting, and focus instead on having fun and creating lasting memories (and delicious treats).
Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram as you bake our mixes. Seeing Wild Rye in the wild is one of my most favorite things and inspires me endlessly! And if you have questions along the way, please email me. Sarah@wildryebaking.com is where you can find me. I’m here for you. We got this.