Reader Ali submitted the following to Questions for cooks:
I love to bake, but my husband and I don’t need to be eating 2 dozen cookies. I love to give them away to our friends and neighbors, but I don’t want them to have to bring dishes back. What can I do to take baked goods to our friends and keep them fresh and looking pretty without cluttering my house with disposable goods?
My first thought is, “Why are you making two dozen cookies at a time?” Sharing with friends and family is fun — it’s certainly one reason why I bake — but it’s not necessary every time you want to fire up the oven.
Make up the dough like you would normally. Scoop onto a cookie sheet or into a small baking pan the amount of dessert you and your husband plan to eat that day. Bake up those goodies (if necessary, adjusting the baking time as appropriate for the smaller baking pan). And, immediately freeze the rest of the dough.
If you’re freezing cookie dough, I scoop it out of the mixing bowl and make it into a tube shape. I wrap the tube in parchment paper like a piece of hard candy, and put it in my freezer for up to six months. Cut discs off the still-frozen dough log as you want them and bake up only the number of cookies you desire each time. Don’t forget to tightly roll the dough back up and return it to the freezer after cutting off the discs.
For other types of doughs, I line the container I plan to use for baking with a piece of parchment paper (do NOT substitute wax paper) and pour in the appropriate amount of dough. Then, I put the pan and the parchment paper in the freezer. When the dough is frozen solid, I remove the pan and put the formed dough and parchment in a reusable food storage container. Mini cakes and breads are wonderful this way. I just drop the parchment paper and frozen dough into the pan when I’m ready to bake the mini-cake or bread and adjust the baking time for the frozen contents (usually this involves cooking the dough at a slightly lower temperature with a longer baking time).
If you’re still interested in baking extras for your friends and family, I simply recommend wrapping things in parchment paper and delivering them like little packages. Sadly, the parchment can’t be recycled, but it will cut down on people having to return your containers. Or, show up at their door with a container of yours, and just ask to put the goodies in one of their containers before you leave. This method would certainly cut down on waste.
Thank you, Ali, for submitting your question for our Questions for cooks column. Check the comments for even more ideas from our readers.
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