The Secret to Holiday Bake-Ahead Success: Buttermilk Scones (Plus, 10 More Recipes!)

Make-ahead baking is a great way to prepare for the holidays and a useful strategy for edible gifts. Melissa shares her tips, plus a scone recipe and 10 more ideas.

Related To:

Simple Buttermilk Scones

Scone_012.tif

Food Stylist: Diana Isaiou Hair and makeup: Jennifer Verado

Photo by: Jamie Baigrie

Jamie Baigrie

For the d'Arabian family, the day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday season. We put up holidays lights, shop for a Christmas tree, light up the fireplace (even though it's 70 degrees) and decorate the house. The girls celebrate with a teapot full of homemade hot cocoa (tip: stir in a spoonful of pumpkin puree for a little extra fiber and vitamins), and we start our holiday baking. Our annual Mother-Daughter Holiday Tea is usually the first week of December, which means we typically have one or two weeks to bake up the treats. And because the holidays are our favorite time to share homemade gifts with friends, neighbors and teachers, we have plenty of baking to do!

My girls, of course, want to be part of it all, and that’s the fun of it — it's a family activity! One of the best pieces of advice I can give parents who are looking to cook more with their kids is: Plan it for when you have plenty of time. Make it a Friday night activity after an early dinner, or spend Sunday afternoon with music on and the oven humming, keeping you cozy and warm while you bake away lazily. To get the baking done in time, then, we have to start early and freeze just about everything. So whether we are cooking for neighbors' gifts or getting a jump-start on party food, I embrace make-ahead options that can be frozen (which in baking, is just about everything).

And that leads me to my No. 1 holiday baking secret weapon: my Simple Buttermilk Scones (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine. They are quick to make, they are scalable, and they are a versatile canvas for almost any flavor profile you can imagine — add tiny chocolate chips and fresh rosemary, or orange zest and dried basil, or dried edible lavender and chopped white chocolate.

White Chocolate-Mascarone Butter

Butter_003.tif

Photo by: Jamie Baigrie

Jamie Baigrie

Scones make an annual appearance at our Mother-Daughter Tea, but they are also perfect for pulling out of the freezer for a busy holiday morning, serving to houseguests or taking as a last-minute hostess gift. And they can be frozen either baked or unbaked. For baked scones (such as our party leftovers), I place them in a resealable freezer bag, squeeze out the excess air, and freeze. To serve, bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes. For unbaked scones, I partially freeze them on a baking sheet before placing them all in a resealable freezer bag in the freezer. To serve, bake at 400 degrees F for 17 to 20 minutes. Frozen unbaked scones are an incredibly strategic gift because they can be pulled out and used whenever it is convenient for the gift recipient (haven’t we all received too many treats in one week and had to throw them out?). For gift-giving, I wrap the frozen scones in cellophane and attach a small tag with baking instructions. To make the scones extra special, you can whip up an easy flavored butter or cream cheese, such as my White Chocolate-Mascarpone Butter (pictured left) from Food Network Magazine, and send a little with your gift.

And because we are talking about holiday treats to share, here are some more of my favorites:

What are some of your favorite make-ahead holiday treats?

Next Up

Bake Your Cake and Eat It Too: A Lighter, Naked Chocolate Cake with Fruit

Stick to your New Year's resolutions and enjoy the process of doing so, with the help of this lightened-up chocolate cake.

A Comprehensive Guide to Baking at High Altitudes

Did you know you should you use less baking soda at higher altitudes?

10 Baking Questions We Hear All the Time (That You Won't Like the Answers To)

Do you really need to abide by all these finicky baking rules? Let us give it to you straight.

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder: What's the Difference?

Surprise, the model volcano in grade school explains a lot.

10 Breakfast Baking Projects for Any Day of the Week

Treat yourself to homemade scones, baked French toast and much more.

Why Did My Cake Sink In the Middle? (And How to Fix It)

You might be making one of these seven common mistakes.

What Is Cream of Tartar?

The byproduct of winemaking has a myriad of uses in your kitchen, from baking to cleaning coffee stains.