All That Baking You're Doing Right Now? Here's How to Make Those Treats Last All Spring (and Summer)
Winter is the time even casual home cooks tend to go all-in on baking projects. There is just something about the cold weather that makes us all want to fill our homes with the scents of yeast, vanilla, sugar, and chocolate. Baking is an easy project to destress or feel productive when weather makes outdoor pursuits impossible. As a result, often we find that we are baking more than our household can or should consume.
But winter baking can set you up for fabulous homemade treats all spring and summer long—a gift for when the days are warm and the thought of even turning on the oven makes you overheat. The key is freezing your creations but doing it right: knowing which baked goods freeze best, knowing how to prep baked goods for long-term storage to protect flavor and texture, and knowing how to properly store them.
With just a few tips, you can save your sweet treats through spring and summer, including special events and parties to come! Here's what you need to know.
Cookies are a magical baked good in that they freeze beautifully both as dough and when fully baked. Having pre-batched dough balls or sliceable logs makes freshly baked cookies the work of minutes, and properly frozen baked cookies are useful to have on hand for when cravings hit or last-minute company shows up.
To freeze unbaked dough balls, scoop onto a parchment or foil-lined sheet pan, close together but not touching, and freeze uncovered for a minimum of 2 hours up to overnight until frozen solid. Transfer to a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible, and use a sharpie to write the baking instructions on the bag so that you can bake from frozen as needed.
To freeze baked cookies, let cool completely then refrigerate for 2 hours to chill down and firm up. Make stacks of 4-6 cookies and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then transfer stacks to a freezer bag labeled with the contents.
Brownies and Bars
These bakes will freeze best if you don't cut them, since the edges tend to be where freezer burn can sneak in. I bake in pans lined in greased parchment for easy removal, or in disposable foil pans. Let the bars or brownies cool completely then chill in the fridge for 2-4 hours to firm up. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil. Transfer to a freezer bag (2-gallon bags work great for 9 x 11 or 10 x 13 pans; gallon bags work fine for 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 squares) and store stacked in your freezer.
Thaw overnight in the fridge and then let come to room temp before serving.
Related—Our Best Brownie Recipes
The cakes that freeze best are sheet-style snack or coffee cakes, Bundt cakes, loaf cakes, muffins or cupcakes, and unfrosted cake layers. Follow the same process as for bars, chilling first and wrapping in both plastic and foil before putting in freezer bags. For leftover frosted cakes, freeze uncovered on a parchment or foil lined sheet pan or plate until completely solid, then continue with plastic/foil/bag. Cheesecakes freeze beautifully; follow the same procedure as for frosted cakes.
Thaw overnight in fridge before letting come to room temp.
As with bars, breads freeze best when unsliced. Wrap whole or partial loaves in plastic wrap and then foil before transferring to a freezer bag, or store in a specially designed bread bag like this one. For sliced bread, bagels, or English muffins, which tend to be used in singles or pairs, it can be worth taking the extra step of wrapping individual portions in plastic wrap before stashing in a freezer bag so that you are not trying to break off slices for your sandwich or pry a breakfast carb off a glued-together grouping. For dinner rolls, if possible, bake in disposable foil pans, let cool, and wrap and store them still in the pan for easy reheating.
Biscuits and Scones
These rich bakes will always do better in the freezer if you freeze them pre-baking and bake from frozen. Freeze uncovered on a parchment-lined sheet pan and then wrap 2-4 in plastic wrap before storing in freezer bags with baking instructions printed on them and bake straight from frozen. Use the same method for storing those that are already baked, letting them thaw overnight in the fridge, then refresh in the toaster or oven before serving.