Questions for cooks: Baking for two and sharing extras with friends

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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5 comments posted

  1. Posted by Karen - 04/29/2011

    If you’re making drop cookies (like chocolate chip) or cookies that have to be rolled into balls before baking (like snickerdoodles), just do that and flash-freeze them in lumps, then put the balls or lumps of dough in a large freezer bag. When you want a few cookies, just take out what you want to bake, and seal the bag up.

    the only problem with this is it’s very easy to *ahem* treat yourself to some frozen cookie dough. Not that I’d know about such things.

  2. Posted by Erin Doland - 04/29/2011

    @Karen — If you use pasteurized eggs in your dough (they sell them at my local Harris Teeter), I don’t see anything wrong with the frozen cookie dough. *ahem* :)

  3. Posted by Susan DR - 04/30/2011

    You could stock up on dishes/platters/etc at yard sales or thrift shops and include a note that the plate does not have to be returned, but should be enjoyed by the recipient or used by them to pay it forward. Also, you could get cello bags at the craft store and tie with a ribbon or yarn, but those are disposable, so not the best choice. I do what Karen suggested and freeze dough in individual servings and then bake up just a few cookies for my son when he gets home from school. (He thinks I’m the best mom for having warm home baked cookies on a cold afternoon! Gotta take all the love you can when you get it from a teenager – LOL) I do think that you have lucky neighbors!

  4. Posted by Gillian - 04/30/2011

    I like these ideas, but have trouble with frozen bread or pizza dough. It doesn’t seem to rise properly afterwards. I am pretty narrow-minded about commercial pizzas or frozen ones so I generally make my own. It would be nice to be able to freeze the dough successfully.

  5. Posted by Erin Doland - 05/01/2011

    @Gillian — With pizza dough, I let it rise before freezing. Then, I move it to the refrigerator a day or two before I plan to use it. I’ll set it out on the counter for a couple hours immediately before I use it to let it come back to room temperature and breathe a little (I leave the zip-top bag open).

    Also, when I freeze the pizza dough, I have some olive oil in with it. It’s there to provide food to the yeast during rising, and I don’t wipe it out before freezing.

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