By Jason Shriner, The Aubergine Chef
One secret of the food industry is how much it relies on freezing. Through freezing, life spans of products can be increased from days to months without added preservatives or loss of quality. Freezing allows bakeries to diversify their menus and to keep up with increased production. There are strategies you can utilize so you can have homemade pastries freshly baked every day.
Pastries can be frozen more often than not.. This includes cakes, croissants, bagels, cookies, and even icings. To have minimal impact on the finished product, freeze it right before you’d normally bake it. Cookie dough freezes famously and is easy to portion out if you roll it into a log before freezing. Most cookie doughs can be baked right out of the freezer, saving you the trouble of thawing.
Doughs that contain yeast can be frozen but generally should be thawed before baking. It all depends on the size. Croissant dough is typically thick and requires very hot temperatures throughout to puff properly. Freeze yeasted doughs before the final proof (the last 45 minutes of resting after the dough has been shaped) so they can also proof. It varies from recipe to recipe, but they should thaw at room temperature for about 6-12 hours since low temperatures inhibit yeast activity.
There is a school of thought that cornstarch custards don’t freeze well but it depends on the interaction of the ingredients as a whole. Starches that are used to thicken a sauce or filling are cooked to eventually form tangled long strands of starch trapping liquid within their networks. Freezing causes the liquid to expand breaking those networks resulting in weeping. However, if there is a high amount of fat or eggs, the starches will be more flexible and will freeze better. Experimenting is the best way to know how your recipe will fare.
Try these pumpkin scones this autumn. The dough freezes incredibly well and the toasted pumpkin seeds lend a phenomenal amount of flavor. They also travel well for packages during the holidays and are room temperature-stable, making them great for bake sales all year long.
Jason Shriner owns the baking & pastry blog The Aubergine Chef, which contains free videos and recipes. He also teaches baking classes at the Manassas Park Community Center. You can visit his blog at www.TheAubergineChef.com.
If you can, create your own spice blend using cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger. Try adding different non-traditional spices like black pepper for a twist. Pepitas, or hulled pumpkin seeds, are deep green and are usually found in Latin food markets. Toast them until they pop and are golden-green for maximum flavor.
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ – 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 ½ ounces pumpkin puree
1 whole egg
2 ½ ounces hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
3 ounces very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons whole milk
Combine the dry ingredients on the mixer and blend together using the paddle attachment on your mixer.
Add the butter and mix on low speed until the dough resembles coarse meal and there are varying sized chunks of butter.
In a separate bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, and eggs.
Add the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the pepitas and mix thoroughly.
Divide dough into four equal pieces and shape into discs.
Cut into triangles by cutting the disc in half and then in half again (like a pie) and bake at 400° F for 14-16 minutes.
Optional: Combine the powdered sugar and whole milk to form a thick icing and drizzle over cooled scones. The icing will harden as it dries but avoid drizzling too early prior to serving. The icing can absorb the green from the pumpkin seeds.
7 days room temperature
14 days refrigerated
6 months frozen