Freeze & bake tips: instant hospitality

Time-saving freeze & bake tips.

There, did I catch your attention?

This time of year – with summer in the rear-view mirror and the holidays not QUITE upon us – is a great time to think about baking for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and how to plan the smoothest, most stress-free season ever.

To me, that means doing a series of quick cost/benefit analyses, and then making a timeline – at least mental, if not on an Excel spreadsheet (which I’d never do, since Excel and I are sworn enemies).

Is it worth parking in this tow zone for the 3 minutes it takes to pick up my dry cleaning, vs. the $25 ticket I might get? Do I risk washing this red dress (the one my daughter HAS to have for school tomorrow) with a load of whites?

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Is it worth time now to prep and freeze a bunch of unbaked treats so that on December 13, when guests drop by unexpectedly, I can whip out a plate of fresh-baked cookies in under 30 minutes?

The answers are, respectively, yes (if you’re feeling lucky); no (because you know your son would end up with pink gym socks); and YES, absolutely.

Here’s the cost of prepping and shaping dough for cookies, scones, and biscuits ahead of time: a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

And here’s the benefit: “OMG, these cookies are soooooo good – and still warm from the oven! What are you, a magician?”

No, just someone who’s learned The Secret To Stress-Free Holiday Baking: use the freezer. It’s the baker’s best friend.

Hot biscuits with a bowl of soup, the most impromptu yet satisfying of suppers?

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Check.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Oven-fresh scones for the next-door neighbor who just spent 30 minutes up on a ladder with your husband, stringing Christmas lights along the eaves?

Check.

Oh, and how about your best girlfriend’s “I’ll drop by for a couple of minutes Saturday morning” that turns into brunch?

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Double check.

I’ve convinced you, right? The benefit far, FAR outweighs the cost: make now, freeze, bake (and enjoy) later is the way to go.

Let’s take a look at the process, and then I’ll share some of my favorite freeze & bake tips.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Make your dough, and scoop it into portions.

Position the future cookies (or biscuits, or scones) on a large baking sheet lined with parchment. You’re not going to bake them right now, so there’s no need to leave space for expansion; crowd everything together as much as you like.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Cover with plastic, and freeze.

I’m lucky, I have a chest freezer; but this half-sheet pan fits in my regular freezer-top fridge, as well. You’ll only have to leave the pan in the freezer for a couple of hours, so don’t worry about any long-term juggling.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

When fully frozen, bag and label.

Freeze-and-bake cookies, ready to go. You may THINK you’ll remember, but do label and date your bags of goodies; then stick them back in the freezer, hopefully at the back so they’re not constantly exposed to changing temperatures.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Bake just before serving.

Space frozen cookies on a baking sheet, as you would any cookies. Bake as directed. (Notice I’m baking three types of cookies here; more on that later.)

You may or may not have to add an extra minute or two to the baking time; cookies are so small and have so much surface area they often take the same amount of time to bake frozen as they do fresh.

Using this same method with biscuits and scones will require an increase in baking time; but probably no more than a few minutes, if that.

Speaking of biscuits and scones, let’s see how the freeze-and-bake process works with those.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Freeze & bake tip #1: One recipe, many variations.

Our Never-Fail Biscuits include just two – count ’em, two – ingredients: self-rising flour, and heavy cream. And it’s easy to take biscuit dough and turn it into cinnamon rolls – just roll up with a schmear of Baker’s Cinnamon Filling (for a grand total of three ingredients).

Or make biscuits studded with sausage and cheese. Or just cheese. Or chocolate chips, for a sweet treat.

Start simple – go crazy. Biscuits and scones are particularly easy to dress up for any occasion, whether sweet or savory.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Freeze & bake tip #2: Bake as many (or few) as you like.

You bake fresh biscuits, they’re soft and wonderful for about 20 minutes, right? Then you get to deal with the leftovers.

When you’ve got a stash of treats in the freezer, it’s easy to avoid those stale leftovers: bake just as many as you want, and leave the rest frozen for next time.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Freeze & bake tip #3: Instant breakfast.

What’s the chance of you having fresh-baked cinnamon rolls hot on the table within 20 minutes of a guest dropping by? Pretty darned good, if you’ve stashed some ready-to-bake biscuit-dough cinnamon rolls in the freezer.

Biscuits and breakfast are natural partners – split large biscuits for breakfast sandwiches, pile bite-sized sugary nuggets into a pull-apart loaf, or just serve warm, tender biscuits with butter and jam. I’ve yet to meet anyone who’d turn down hot biscuits at breakfast.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Freeze & bake tip #4: Bake smaller for the holidays.

Instead of dividing that scone dough in half, divvy it into three or four pieces, to make more (smaller) scones. Use a teaspoon scoop for cookies, rather than a tablespoon scoop; a 1 1/2″ biscuit cutter, instead of a 2 1/2″.

The holidays mean non-stop grazing, with lots of variety; do yourself and your guests a favor by providing bite-sized (rather than multi-bite) treats.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

Freeze & bake tip #5: parchment is your best friend. Always.

1. Shape treats on parchment. Once frozen, use parchment to funnel treats into a plastic storage bag.
2. Ditch the cleanup. Pans stay clean; wipe crumbs from parchment and reuse.
3. Bake different cookies with different baking times all at once on separate strips of parchment (below). That way, if one type of cookie is done before the others, simply grab the corners of the parchment they’re on, and haul them out.

Freeze & Bake Tips via @kingarthurflour

The holidays are looming. Ready… set… freeze and bake!

And that means dinner rolls, as well. Discover the secret to high-rising, just-in-time dinner rolls.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. M guerrero

    Thank you sooo much for the cookie freezing info. I need to know about freezing cupcakes for a wedding. Please advise. I deleted the email by mistake. Also freezing cakes.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’d be happy to help guide you through freezing (and thawing) your favorite cake recipes, M. Most baked cakes and cupcakes can be frozen for up to three months. This includes butter cakes, vegetable oil cakes, sponge cakes, and cheesecakes. Cakes that don’t hold up well during freezing are those that are particularly light in texture or have moist fillings (such as angel food cakes, roll cakes, and pudding cakes). To freeze your cake, prepare your recipe as instructed and let the cake cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and/or aluminum foil. It helps to put a parchment round on the top and bottom of the cake to prevent the plastic wrap from sticking to the surface. Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container or plastic bag. Cakes should be frozen unfrosted for best results, but some soaks and syrups may be applied before freezing. To serve, let your cakes thaw in their wrapping in the fridge overnight. This slow, gentle thaw will help maintain the texture and moisture. Let the cake rest at room temperature unwrapped for a few hours before frosting or serving. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Audrey, we recommend storing frozen cookie dough for about 3 months if it’s kept in a well-sealed ziplock bag or airtight container. Gluten-free cookie dough will be about the same, though it’ll benefit from baking sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the texture might start to become compromised and it might break down slightly, so bake within 1-2 months if possible. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  2. Cathy O’Hara

    I live in an area where I can not get King Arthur products and to ship them to me is more than pricey(out of the country plus duty! Ugh 😑!)
    From time to time friends and family bring me your awesome gf brownie, gf cookie, gf muffin mixes and this time two bags of gf Measure for Measure flour. What is the best way to freeze these products, so I can have them bring me more?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re so glad you’re able to get your hands on some GF products, Cathy! We recommend storing ingredients at the back of your freezer where they aren’t likely to thaw out and re-freeze. That should extend their freshness by several months. Annabelle@KAF

  3. Ethan

    Any advice on tweaking the Never-fail biscuit recipe for freezing a filled biscuit? Ham, egg, and cheese for example.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Those biscuits are super easy to freeze, Ethan, so as long as whatever you’re putting in them also freezes well, you should be able to keep them wrapped in your freezer for two to three months. We haven’t had great results freezing cooked eggs, but do some experimenting about what fillings are in the best shape after thawing. Annabelle@KAF

  4. Tim Anderson

    Hi,
    My experience is that my frozen cookie dough turns out cookies that are too cakey, too large air pockets. If making the dough for the freezer can I cut down on the salt and baking powder and solve the problem.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re welcome to experiment doing so, Tim. Start with lowering your baking powder by 25%. If the flavor of the cookies after freezing isn’t too salty, there’s no need to change the salt amount as it really won’t make a noticeable difference in the rise or texture — only flavor. Annabelle@KAF

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