This Grinchy Mom Hates Holiday Baking

We Tried It 8

buche de noelYou know what? I tried. I tried and tried and tried. For years I was a holiday baking frenzy, churning out a dizzying array of holiday cookies from all around the world, packing them into sweet little gift boxes for teachers and family. After a life-changing, Christmastime encounter in Venice I taught myself how to make panettone (Italian sweet bread), sort of. I painstakingly rolled and decorated the most precious Buche de Noel (yule log cakes). And then? Last year I hit a wall and realized to my horror/relief: I hate holiday baking.

That's right. I hate holiday baking. All the pressure to produce joy and perfection in a cookie. The collapsing gingerbread houses, the re-toasting of pecans because I burned the first batch, rubbing skins off of hazelnuts. And the butter. SO. MUCH. BUTTER. I am so over it all.

It was when I'd just completed another fucking adorable Buche de Noel that it really hit me: I don't even LIKE EATING those things. The kind of cake you have to bake that will withstand rolling, a jellyroll, is made for durability and flexibility, not taste. And all that butter cream? Bleh. 

And then the cookies, my god, the cookies. There's so much repetition. Rolling and cutting, scooping out the same size, measuring everything out exactly, which is not something I've very good at in the first place. So tedious! Am I really doing this for fun?!?

Worst of all, I don't even have a sweet tooth. All those holiday confections weren't really for me, anyway... supposedly. They were for gifts. But I have a teensy family. The ONE pie I made for Thanksgiving? I still have 1.5 pieces in the refrigerator a whole week later. When I buy myself a brownie it takes me about 10 days to finish eating it. I have a pint of ice cream in the freezer that I bought in September.

And now here I am, facing another holiday season, looking through my cooking magazines and wondering what I'll bake. The madness stops now! Why am I doing if I don't even enjoy this?

I love cooking dinner. I'll braise, I'll brown, I'll saute. It's not like I don't love cooking. I just don't love baking. 

So this year I'm thinking about something happiness expert Gretchen Rubin once said -- To live the Big Life think small. (She said something like that.) What is it exactly that I want to get out of holiday baking? Some fun times with my son and just a few sweet treats. So fine, I'll make one batch of stupid sugar cookies, and I'll decorate them with my son. And we'll both have fun. And that will be it! 

Except, I've always wanted to make a monte bianco cake...

How do you feel about holiday baking?


Image via Adriana Velez

baking, desserts, holidays


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Luisa Perkins

Ah, how I love you. I like baking, but I hate the pressure of holiday baking. You're right on about les buches de Noel, of course. I'm thinking of giving tiny jars of homemade marmalade and chutney this year instead of cookies....

nonmember avatar TheSimpleTruth

My sister-in-law owns a bakery, so even if I wanted to, it all just kind of falls on her. When the big meals/celebrations are planned, she automatically gets the desserts and I always always always get mashed potatoes. I make some awesome mashed potatoes - don't get me wrong - but it'd be fun to throw out a pie every now and then. :)

nonmember avatar guest

That photo looks like a gilded turd.

nonmember avatar HildaDecker

Delicious cookie

tuffy... tuffymama

I find it difficult to labor lovingly at something I'm not good at doing. Is that a buche? LOL. Did it look like poop because you hated making it? Or did you make it look like a turd because you hated making it? Hehehe. Not every woman has to be good at baking. My mom cooks like shit and her cakes are just plain weird. Doesn't make her any less of a woman. That she persists in trying may mean she's insane, but that's a story for another day. She can at least grow the hell out of some roses and keep a cleaner house than anyone I know.

I love baking! I'm a cake lady, so I make at least six cakes a week. I make a pie crust that melts in your mouth, light and tender muffins, cupcakes that actually taste good, and cookies that are crispy AND chewy. I'm a Taurus, so I'm talented in the homely arts and have a flair for luxury. I can cook or bake anything, but I don't go near the grill. Nope. No sir. No how. I'm not good at it and I burned myself every time, so I quit trying it a long time ago. DH grills and smokes meats beautifully, though, so we complement each other.

irish... irishmama1007

I'm the opposite. I love to bake but I can't stand cooking. I do it when I have to otherwise that is my husband's job.

Lacey Wright Moore

I hate baking so much because I eat some of everything I bake and that packs on the lbs. This year, I'm 125lbs, so I REFUSE to bake anything. We're doing gift baskets from this great little cafe near out house. I'd rather spend money than get chubby again.

Felip... FelipesMom

I love to bake, but of course the point is, do what you love! I love the phrase "I realized to my horror/relief." Now you know! Which is awesome! Because now you won't do all that baking anymore. I love how you condensed it all down to your priorities too - what do you want? fun and a few treats - so you found a way to do that. Good for you :o) 

This holiday season I wish everyone the same clarity and the same ability to stick to the priorities and not let the stress interfere with the joy!


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