The thing about holiday baking is… we always make an abundance of treats! On top of that, we always seem to wind up with extra treats that guests bring. Often, the treats you are left with are over-whelming, leaving you scrambling to figure out what to do with all these lovely hand-made goodies!
One way to solve your holiday baking go better is to have a plan for freezing and storing your holiday baked goods so that you don’t have to worry about consuming them within a few days or finding ways to give them away (chances are everyone else is on baking over-load, too!) It all depends on the type of time you have available but learning to freeze and store the delicious creations will certainly help.
The first thing you need to be able to freeze and store your holiday baked goods is the right supplies. You’ll need parchment paper, freezer safe containers, plastic zipping bags, butcher paper and spray oil. These things will help you save your baking goods properly so that they taste freshly baked on the day you enjoy them.
Some of the baked goods that freeze the best are brownies, quick breads, cookies, muffins, snack cakes, yeast breads, regular cakes, cheesecake and pies. All of these need various methods of freezing to ensure that they are still fresh and tasty when it’s time to eat them. One important tip to remember is not to freeze any of your baked good recipes that are low fat or fat free. They are best cooked and served the same day as they get dry or conversely gummy when frozen.
The hardest of the above to freeze are fully made cakes, cheesecakes and pies. These require specialty containers to ensure that they don’t get too much frost and that you also thaw them properly for best results. We’ll start with these.
* Fully made cakes – If you completely frost and prepare a cake you can still freeze it. It takes a little more work, though. Use parchment paper or freezer paper oiled up really good with spray oil that is flavorless like corn oil or you can also use Crisco. Then wrap the cake tightly with the freezer paper, wrap that with plastic wrap, freeze until solid and then put the entire container into a tin or hard freezer safe box to protect it from other things in your freezer. Unwrap completely before thawing.
* Cheesecakes – These have very high moisture content, but can be frozen if you are careful. Most cheesecakes are made in a spring form pan. You can freeze directly on the spring form or you can make a round of hard cardboard (or buy one at the craft store). If using cardboard, the best way to do it is to wrap the cardboard with foil. Slide the cheesecake onto the foil-wrapped cardboard; you can spray some spray oil on it first to help remove it later. Then wrap with plastic wrap (bottom and all), spraying oil on the top layer too. Wrap with multiple layers, freeze fully, and then place in a harder container to protect. Unwrap completely to thaw in refrigerator. When almost completely thawed, put back on spring form bottom or other serving platter for serving. For fruit-covered cheesecake, make that at the time of serving for added freshness.
* Pies – Freezing cream pies doesn’t work very well, so use these instructions for fruit pies and make creamed pies closer to the time of serving. You can freeze pie crusts in their tins and bake from frozen. To freeze a fully baked fruit pie, place it in the freezer uncovered, freeze, and then pop it in a freezer bag. To serve, unthaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw on the counter for three to five hours. Break open the seal so that the moisture from freezing can escape to avoid a mushy crust. You can freeze unbaked pie crust the same way. Just don’t slit the crust, unwrap, slit the crust and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 Fahrenheit and bake for 45 more minutes.
The other items mentioned above can be frozen very easily just by first bringing to room temperature, then starting in the refrigerator. Finally wrap with freezer paper or parchment paper, and then pop into a freezer bag. You can freeze these items for six months. To thaw, just take out and put on the counter. Or for anything with eggs in it, start in the refrigerator.
Other Tips for Freezing Your Holiday Baked Goods
* Fully cooked cookies – You can also freeze fully cooked cookies. Find a round freezer save container and put a single layer of fully cooled cookies in the bottom, top with parchment paper, adding layers until the container is full, topping again with parchment, and then sealing the container. To thaw, just remove cookies to a serving platter and let thaw for about 2 or 3 hours the day you want to enjoy them.
* Quick breads or muffins – Fully cool the bread or muffins after baking, then wrap tightly in freezer paper, parchment paper, or foil. Then wrap with plastic wrap tightly and put inside a freezer bag. The extra steps will ensure that your bread is moist and delicious after thawing. To thaw, unwrap and thaw on the counter for 2 to 3 hours, or in the fridge overnight. Wrapping in foil is especially good with coffee cake. You can thaw in the foil, then toss in the oven to warm.
Freezing your holiday baked goods and storing them for later is a great idea because you can simply nibble on a little at a time, have them ready to serve for guests in the new year, or simply enjoy at a later date when you are craving a particular holiday treat. Most of these items will still taste fresh with proper storage for up to three months, some for six months. If you have extra freezer space, this gives you quite a long time to enjoy all the holiday baked goodies!