We’re just gonna say it: You need to fill time with the kids when the holidays hit. More often than not, it’s cold outside. School is usually closed for a week, minimum. That’s a lot of Christmas specials, folks. So plan ahead: Whether you have little or big ones around, it’s smart to have activities of every stripe, particularly when it’s less of a winter wonderland and more of a bitter snowscape out there. Break out the hot chocolate, of course, but we also love these holiday baking projects—all delicious treats to enjoy at home or to share as gifts with teachers, friends and neighbors.
Big or little, we’ve yet to meet the human not torn between admiring and consuming this compelling cookie “tree.” In Scandinavia, tiered cakes called kransekake traditionally take center stage at special occasions from Christmas Eve to birthdays. This version allows you to create your own, with graduated snowflake-shaped cutters and your favorite rolled-out cookie or pastry dough. Just stack the cooled tiers, then decorate with icing and sugars. (If you like, use a dab of frosting between the layers as “glue.”) You can also eat them individually, of course! Architecturally minded kids particularly enjoy this project.
2. Kid-Sized Gingerbread People Cakelets
For a baking project that promises immediate gratification, bust out this most adorable cakelet pan, plus our knockout gingerbread spice quick bread mix for kid-sized gingerbread cakelets in minutes. Have your own recipe to bake in these little cuties? Great: You can also buy the Nordic Ware Kid-Sized Gingerbread People pan all its own. (It’s a little effort that results in big smiles.) For something savory that doubles as a mealtime treat, try the recipe for these cheesy pizza pockets.
3. Sugar Cookies
Pity the poor test kitchen cooks, who every year have to try and try again until they’ve fully satisfied their exacting requirements for the Sugar Cookies of their dreams. This is this year’s iteration, and we think these cookie cutters are as adorable as can be.
4. Gingerbread People
Those same super-cute cookie cutters can be employed with our wonderful Gingerbread People recipe, which we tweak constantly to perfect. Pro tip: If you prefer a homey look, press dried currants, dried cranberries or raisins down the center of each torso to make buttons while the cookies are still warm, fresh from the oven. (Or, before baking, use a sparkling-clean garlic press to make gingerbread hair.)
5. Bundt® Cakes
Cake can be super-simple with one of our Bundt® cake mixes and a festive Bundt® pan from Nordic Ware. Make it even easier by properly preparing your pan so the cake can be dislodged with out a hitch. Once you’ve turned the cake out onto a plate, all that’s needed is a snowfall of confectioners’ sugar for a festive (and impressive!) holiday treat.
When it comes to holiday gifting, homemade homemade granola is one baking project that’s easy to share. Packed into small canisters or weck jars tied with ribbon, granola makes a delicious gift for teachers, neighbors and friends. (Taking care of the people around you is one of those lifelong lessons that’s never too early to start teaching.)
Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year. We are huge fans of this sufganiyot recipe from celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern. You can fill them with chocolate, lemon curd, cream, or jam, and hand them to neighbors, brave holiday 5K runners, or whoever comes to the door. ‘Tis the season for holiday baking, and thank goodness.