Keeping baked goods fresh begins when you remove them from the oven, and continues until you enjoy the last bite. When improperly stored, baked goods can become stale, dry or even begin to mold or spoil. The type of baked good determines the best storage method for the freshest flavor.
Moisture evaporates from baked goods as they cool. If you package them before they cool completely to room temperature, the moisture becomes trapped in the packaging so the exterior of the food becomes soggy while the interior dries. Cool homemade baked goods completely on a wire rack before storing them. Cakes and breads cooked in a pan require cooling in the pan until the pan is safe to touch, then further cooling after you remove them from the pan. Cookies, muffins and other small baked goods can be transferred to a cooling rack immediately after baking.
The type of packaging depends on the baked good and the storage method. Cakes, pies and breads need to be tightly wrapped in a triple layer of plastic wrap so they don't come in contact with the air. You can also store them in domed cake plates and storage containers. Cookies are best stored in a tightly-closed container in humid climates, but in dry areas, use a container with a loose-fitting lid so they don't become too dry. Frosting helps hold in the moisture of cakes stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator, but when freezing, it's better to store the cake unfrosted so the frosting doesn't separate or develop condensation as it thaws.
The ingredients in your baked goods determine the best storage place. Those with perishable toppings, fillings or frosting require cold storage at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This includes cheesecakes, custards or fruit fillings, and cakes frosted with egg-based or cream cheese frosting. Yeast bread, quick breads and cookies are better stored at room temperature, unless they have frosting, filling or toppings that require refrigerator storage. Most baked goods store well for up to a week in the fridge or at room temperature, with breads and cookies sometimes lasting up to three weeks before they become stale.
The freezer allows for even longer storage of most baked goods. Baked pies stay fresh for six to eight months, while cookies, muffins and fruit and angel food cakes can last up to a year. Breads and unfrosted cakes only last for two to four months, and a frosted cake is best used within a month. To ensure a fresh taste and texture upon thawing, thaw most baked goods at room temperature, leaving them wrapped in their packaging so they can reabsorb any lost moisture as they defrost. Baked goods containing perishable ingredients, like cheesecakes and fruit fillings, are safer thawed in the refrigerator and then brought to room temperature right before serving.
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