After the oven, the freezer can be one of the most valuable appliances in your kitchen when it comes to baking. Whipping up a cake (or two) when you have time, freezing it (or the leftovers) and then knowing you have something on hand to pull from the freezer later when time is short, can be blissfully convenient. To help you make the most of your baking and to be super organised, here are my top 5 tips for freezing your baking:
- Fillings, icings and decorations generally don’t freeze well so it is best to freeze cakes, slices, biscuits and tarts without these embellishments and add them after thawing and just before serving. Also avoid freezing cheesecakes, items with custard-based fillings, and bakes based on cream such as custards (think crème brulee).
- Always cool your baking completely before wrapping and freezing. Wrap larger items closely in plastic wrap and then seal in a freezer bag, airtight container, re-sealable plastic bag or a double layer of foil, to help stop them absorbing other flavours and losing moisture while in the freezer. Smaller items can also be wrapped separately or frozen in a sealed airtight container, separated by freezer wrap or baking paper. Make sure you label and date everything you freeze so you know exactly how long it has been in the freezer – generally baked goods will freeze for up to three months.
- Wrap lunch box items, such as individual slices of loaves and muffins, separately in plastic wrap before sealing in an airtight container or freezer bag and freezing. This way they are ready to be taken one-at-a-time from the freezer as you need them and thawed in the lunch box.
- Uncooked biscuits and pastry doughs that don’t contain baking powder or bicarbonate of soda freeze well. For biscuits, shape, scoop or roll and/or cut out as directed in the recipe and then freeze on trays. Once frozen, seal in a sealed freezerproof bags or airtight containers (as in Tip 2) and return immediately to the freezer. Bake straight from the freezer as per the recipe, adding 5-10 minutes to the baking time. Alternatively, you can also freeze some biscuit doughs in a log, thaw it slightly so it doesn’t crack when you cut it, slice into rounds and bake from frozen.For pastry, either freeze in a disc ready to be rolled and shaped once thawed, or roll and shape and then freeze. Once frozen, wrap well in plastic wrap (either with or without the pan if it is a tart shell) and seal in a freezer bag or airtight container. Thaw at room temperature before continuing with the recipe as directed or bake from frozen, adding 5-10 minutes to the baking time. Just make sure you return a shaped pastry, such as a tart case, to the tin before thawing and baking.
- Thaw frozen baked items either at room temperature or in the fridge. Generally, thawing slowly will produce a better ‘looking’ result. Obviously the larger the bake and the denser the texture the longer it will take to thaw. Also, leave your bakes in the original wrapping for thawing so that excess moisture doesn’t form on the surface and make them soggy. Bring them to room temperature before serving, as the flavour and texture will be better than if they are served cold.