Make Now, Bake Later: A Guide to Freezing Dough and Batters

If you own a retail bakery, you have two choices: Wake up at 3 a.m. to bake everything from scratch every day (um, pass), or learn some quick tricks and work-arounds to achieve fresh-baked goodness in a flash.

My retail bakery days are long gone, but I still use the methods I learned and developed there. With holiday baking just around the corner, these tips will help you save valuable time and energy when company is on the way. You’ll be serving freshly baked beauties and they’ll never know you barely broke a sweat. 

Freezing batters

Tools for Freezing Batters and Doughs | Erin Gardner

All images via Erin Bakes 

There’s much debate in the cake world about whether freezing a cake dries it out. No matter which side of the fence you fall, there’s no debating that nothing beats enjoying a freshly baked cake shortly after it comes out of the oven.

Not all cake batters can be frozen, though. If a cake batter is leavened with whipped egg whites, like a chiffon or sponge cake, the freezing process will ruin the batter.

Creaming method cake batters, or quick bread batters that employ oil as the fat, freeze beautifully. I freeze my devil’s food cake recipe and black velvet cake recipe all the time. Most batters and doughs can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. 

Freezing Cake Batter | Erin Gardner

Tips for freezing cake batter

1. Use dishers or portion scoops to freeze batter in convenient amounts, like single servings for cupcakes or tasting cakes. Use larger containers to quickly have enough batter for a loaf pan cake or layer cake. 

2. Store small portions in single-serving reusable freezer containers. Leave a half-inch or so of space at the top to allow for the batter to expand and contract during the freezing and thawing process.

3. Store larger amounts of cake batter in zip-top freezer bags, smooshing all of the air out first so that the bag lays flat in the freezer. 

4. Put the cake batter in the fridge to defrost the night before you want to use it. Give the batter a stir and portion into prepared cake pans. Bake according to your recipe. 

5. Defrosted cake batter straight from the fridge will have a tighter crumb than cake batter that comes to room temperature before baking. 

Freezing dough

Cure a cookie craving or start the day with a piping-hot scone by baking pre-shaped doughs straight from the freezer. I have yet to meet a cookie, scone or pâte à choux dough that didn’t freeze well for me. Here are some tips for impressing on the fly with frozen doughs. 

Freezing Cookie Dough | Erin Gardner

Cookie doughs

Use a disher to scoop uniform rounds of cookie dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Pop the sheet in the freezer until the dough is frozen solid. Gather up the frozen cookie dough balls and store in a large zip-top freezer bag. Pull single cookies as needed (or wanted), or bake the whole bunch at once. 

Some cookie doughs bake perfectly straight from the freezer. Others work better if thawed first. Test a cookie or two with your own recipe. 

Freezing Cookie Dough | Erin Gardner

For slice-and bake cookies, shape dough into a log on a piece of plastic wrap. Roll the plastic wrap up around the dough. Grab both ends of the wrap at the same time and spin the log, twirling and tightening the plastic wrap around the cookie dough. Place the log of dough in the freezer. Slice off cookies as needed. Cutting cookies is easiest from frozen dough.

Freezing Cookie Dough | Erin Gardner

Pâte à choux

Freeze pâte à choux puffs using a similar process. Pipe mounds of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Pop the sheet in the freezer until the dough is frozen solid. Gather the frozen dough mounds into a large zip-top freezer bag. Frozen pâte à choux should be baked straight from the freezer. 

Scones

To freeze scones, place shaped dough (typically rounds or triangles) onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Follow the same freezing and storage process as the scooped cookie dough. Bake scones straight from the freezer or allow the dough to come to room temperature before baking. Top scones with cream or a dusting of sugar before putting in the oven. 

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