When you bake as much as I do, it’s pretty much essential to have a freezer.
Freezers come in handy during the baking process. Sometimes I cheat and try to force butter to firm up after melting or to cool cupcakes faster so I can frost them. Flash freezing certain cookie doughs or biscuits or pastries prior to baking will help them keep keep their shape. Freezing bars and cake layers make them easier to slice cleanly and evenly.
Freezers make sharing easier. Rather than eating a whole pan of brownies, I can pop them in the freezer and take one out whenever I want. Just warm it up in the micro, and it’s like, instant warm, fresh brownie. Or if I bake something on a Friday that I want to share with co-workers on a Monday, I can freeze the final product and defrost later. Or if I have company coming over, I can grab some pre-shaped cookie dough balls from the deep freeze, add a few minutes to the baking time and have fresh-baked cookies in 15 minutes.
A few freezer tips, in case you’ve never used one of these babies before:
- Make sure you always shut the freezer door. Otherwise you will find a thick layer of ice on your goods the next time you open the door. And you will not want to wear it. But you may want to eat it. It’s like perfectly clean snow conveniently located in your kitchen. Of course, I never ate the frost that collected in my freezer when I was a kid.
- Make sure to seal your bakes well before freezing. For baked cake layers, I double wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in Ziplocs before freezing. Remove as much air as possible from anything you’re wrapping, and try to use air tight containers. Sometimes I’ll even seal the edges of plastic tupperware dishes with masking tape. No freezer burn, please.
- Make sure not to freeze for too long. While freezing will significantly extend the shelf life of many baked goods, some things will only freeze for so long. Unbaked yeast breads, for example. Sometimes if I freeze them too long, they won’t rise properly. Also, the texture of certain finished products will change after a freeze and defrost. You may not get that perfectly crackly crust that you would have had if it had been fresh-baked.
Quick breads were made to be popped out of the freezer for those cold, lazy mornings when you have a crowd to feed and all you want is five more minutes with your feet not touching the ice cold floor. Hopefully this post will save your footses.
Frugal life tip: don’t chuck your overgrown zucchinis! This bread made use of one of those massive summer zucchinis that it is too woody to be cooked, which happens to make it the perfect consistency for baking.
And now, a rhyming list, also known as a poor poem:
Quick breads snifftable, I will swoon out
Quick breads giftable, I will wrap up
Quick breads rifftable, I will wax on
Hey, I only promised to keep your bread fresh, not your cultural prowess.
Adapted from Food & Wine
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I ground mine fresh, so I guessed on this)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 medium zucchini (about 7 ounces), finely shredded
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with vegetable spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cardamom. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar, oil, zucchini and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir gently with a spatula until the flour is just incorporated. Stir in the sour cream. At this point, you could also stir in a cup of chocolate chips or toasted pecans, if you were so inclined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 50 minutes until the top is browned and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If the loaf browns too quickly during baking, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool completely. These loaves freeze well, so I doubled the batch and wrapped one loaf tightly in plastic wrap to defrost as needed.