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Baking things that’ll last

Posted by on Friday 10 September 2010 in cooking, frugal, zero waste | 14 comments

I love baking bread, cakes and biscuits – the process is fun, the product is tasty and it’s very often cheaper than buying them ready-made from a supermarket. But I don’t have the time to bake every day at the moment – and that often results in having to buy expensive, pale imitations of nomminess, and sometimes food waste too.

Our slow rise bread is great – it’s edible as long as there is any to be eaten. Because it’s not quite so fluffy as supermarket bread, it doesn’t feel as instantly stale and it’s fine as fresh bread for three days or so, then good for toast for a couple more days. Other baked goods though – scones, cakes, biscuits – tend to be lovely on the first two days but then quickly stale – either going soggy or hard depending on which is undesirable in the item.

So what do you do to make sure your baked good will last until you can bake again?

Airtight containers (typically old ice cream tubs) don’t seem to help that much – perhaps with biscuits (cookies) I need something else in there to absorb the moisture… rice perhaps?

Freezing breads & cakes is a possibility – anyone got any preference to freezing them before or after baking (or part-baked)? I keep meaning to freeze homemade pizza dough – it can be frozen at any stage from after kneading or rising, through to full prepared pizza – does anyone have any preferences for freezing at any particular stage?

As for biscuits, I like the idea of making a roll of dough, which is then frozen and sliced & baked on demand (like for these Earl Grey tea thins) – but with all this breads, cakes and pizza dough, I suspect our freezer will quickly fill up! So what are your favourite longer-life biscuit tricks?

Any thoughts, recipes, suggestions etc would be gratefully received!

(Photo by hisks)


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Hellie

    I live by myself so don’t get through things that fast. When I make bread or loaf cakes, I sliced them before I freeze them and freeze them in seperate bags so I only need to defrost a couple of slices at a time, not the whole thing.

  2. louisa

    That’s a good idea Hellie – I guess it’ll allow more efficient use of freezer space too. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Tamara

    I have to admit that we don’t freeze much as freezer space is a premium item in our house (just the one in the fridge!), but we slice our homemade bread and bagels just prior to freezing. I’ve never frozen pizza dough because we make it just prior to using.

  4. louisa

    Hi Tamara,

    Thanks for the comment :)

    We usually use pizza dough fresh too but I thought it might be good to freeze some too – I’m always interested in increasing the amount of homemade ready meals we have in the freezer for eating when we have to eat super-quickly. I do worry about how much space it’ll take up though (and rolled out, it’s an awkward shape too).

    -l :)

  5. Dani

    Via Recycle This:

    I add a sprig of bay leaves to my flour container (and other dried goods) which prevents those nasty tiny critters from invading. Refresh every 3 – odd months.

    As for keeping biscuigts dry – whenever I purchase vitamins they come with a small sachet of silica crystals. I keep them when the vitamins are finished, and add them to the biscuit jar. Incidentally, my son’s mobile phone got water in it, and we opened it all up, popped it into a sealable container with the silica sachets and the next morning (I kid you not) it was dry and working again!

  6. Clare

    Via Recycle This:

    I make more biscuit dough than I’ll need using a recipe from a freezer cookbook. I bake one batch and freeze the rest in long sausages wrapped in foil. When the biscuit tin gets low, I get some dough out and slice as many biscuits as we’ll need off it and bake them. This might be a good use for your oven space as discussed in a recent post.

    The more oil you add to bread dough, the longer it stays fresh, I know that.

  7. Alison Bailey Smith

    Via Recycle This:

    If you make scones use up any slightly gone-off milk – it makes them better.

  8. louisa

    Dani: I thought about reusing those silica crystals but was a bit worried about putting them near food – I’m very clumsy and would almost certainly split open the sachet and dust the biscuits with poisonous silica gel ;)

    Clare: That’s exactly the type of thing I meant when I was talking about freezer biscuits – easy peasy fresh biscuits AND using the oven more efficiently. Double win!

    Alison: Do you know if it makes them last longer too?

  9. Kim

    Via Recycle This:

    I bake gluten/dairy free and usually freeze them immediately so that they don’t dry out. It works quite well with just about any baked items. I’ve frozen cupcakes with icing and they thaw out just fine.

    I’ve also noticed adding a large spoon of honey to cookie/muffin recipes makes them stay moist longer.

    I’ve frozen muffin batter in little tins and baked them at a later date. Worked fine, although it must bake a little longer.

  10. louisa

    Hi Kim,

    That’s really interesting about honey – do you include less sugar or just add the honey on top of the normal recipe?

    And with the frozen batter – do you defrost them first or just bung them in the oven frozen?

  11. bookstorebabe

    Via Recycle This:

    My mother taught me this.
    I don’t know why this works, but it does. If you have stale cake-or other baked goods, I suppose-slice an apple into 4 or 6 pieces, and close them up with it overnight. By morning, it’s fresh again. This also works to soften brown sugar that’s gone rock hard.
    Oh, and storing baked goods in an airtight container-a tin with a snug fitting lid, perhaps?

    And since baking every day is difficult, and there is only so much freezer space for dough or baked goods-perhaps a shortcut to make more frequent baking quicker? Mix all the dry ingredients for a recipe (Flour, spices, sugar, baking powder, ect) and store them in a labeled plastic tub or jar. Even if it doesn’t lead to more frequent baking, some days you may need the bit of extra time it gives you!

    And there’s always bread pudding and such for stale bread, or making dressing/stuffing. Not to mention making croutons, and a handy jar of dried bread crumbs. For when you do end up with the occasional stale goods.

  12. louisa

    Ooh great suggestions bookstorebabe.

    I especially like the dry ingredients batch idea – particularly if the remaining ingredients are pretty simple (like just adding an egg and/or water) — basically the homemade equivalent of those “bake your own but not really” boxes at the supermarket.

    (I used to do a similar thing for soup – all the correct portions cut up and frozen. Just add stock and cook – and it work very well.)

  13. Kim

    I normally decrease the amount of sugar any ways in most recipes so I think it evens out, although the amount of honey is not really so big.

    As for the frozen muffins, I put them in the oven frozen and baked them. You’ll want to make sure that they aren’t too high up in the oven so the tops brown too much.

  14. louisa

    Hi Kim,

    Thanks for responding – I’m glad you said you put the muffins in the oven frozen – if I had to defrost them, it would be less likely to happen but that sounds very easy. I’ll have to give it a go :)


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