Whether you’ve made a too-big batch of muffins for your household of one or you just like having a stash of freshly baked bread in the freezer, there are a few tricks for freezing baked goods to best retain their flavor and texture.
When it comes to freezing recipes, most fall into one of two categories: freeze before baking, or freeze after.
Freeze Before Baking
Biscuits and Scones: Portion the dough, then transfer the portions to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then transfer to a resealable freezer bag. No need to thaw before baking. Simply remove the portioned dough from the freezer and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Reduce the oven temperature called for in the recipe by 25 degrees and add up to 10 minutes of baking time. If the pastries are browning too quickly, lower the temperature another 25 degrees or tent the baking sheet with foil, or both, for the remainder of the baking time.
Cookies: Drop-cookie dough can be scooped onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, then frozen until solid. Transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to an airtight container. When ready to bake, move the desired number of dough balls to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours before baking. (This helps ensure a similar spread to the original recipe.) If you’re short on time, most cookies can be baked straight from frozen. Use the “pan banging” technique to help flatten the cookies midway through baking.
Cookie recipes that require chilling before baking, like icebox cookies, can go straight into the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before slicing and baking.
Pie and Tart Dough: Form the dough into disks about 1/2-inch thick and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze the disks for up to three months, and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Freeze After Baking
Yeast or Sourdough Bread and Rolls: Freeze bread in individual slices (or rolls). Wrap each slice or roll tightly in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil, and freeze for up to three months. When ready to eat, thaw completely in the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, but leave on the foil, and place slices or rolls in the oven. Heat the oven to 375 degrees, leaving the bread in for another 5 to 10 minutes after the oven reaches 375 degrees. Alternatively, precut slices can be toasted straight from the freezer.
Cakes: Sheet cakes, cake layers, loaf or Bundt cakes freeze best unfrosted and unfilled, because frostings and fillings can often release moisture into the cake as it thaws. Wrap slices or portions of cake tightly in plastic wrap, then a layer of foil, then freeze for up to three months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator, then unwrap. Finish as the recipe directs.
Muffins and Quick Breads: Tightly wrap individual muffins or quick bread slices in plastic wrap, then transfer to a resealable storage bag. Freeze up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator for at least six hours before serving. When ready to eat, thaw completely in the refrigerator before wrapping bread in foil and placing it into the oven, then heating the oven to 375 degrees and leaving the bread in for another 3 to 5 minutes after the oven reaches 375 degrees. You can also pop into a toaster oven for a few minutes before serving.
Brownies, Blondies and Bar Cookies: All freeze well after baking, though, because of their fudgy texture, they might become slightly more moist after thawing. Cut into portions, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and freeze on a sheet pan until firm. Transfer to a resealable freezer bag. Remove the bars from the freezer and thaw fully in the refrigerator or at room temperature before serving.