You can save money each week by not wasting your bakery goodies. Here are my simple tips to help them stay fresh enough to eat
- If you buy a big loaf and won’t get through it all in a couple of days, freeze half. Put it in a zip-seal freezer bag and close almost all the way to the end. Using a narrow straw, suck out the air, taking care not to inhale any crumbs, nuts or seeds. Remove the straw and seal firmly. Keeping as much air out as possible will help prevent icy patches on your loaf. Seal the bag tightly and freeze for up to a month for the best results.
- You can freeze sliced loaves in the same way or divide into useable portions – enough for a day or two – and freeze in sandwich bags for up to 2 weeks. If the bread is pre-sliced, it can be toasted from frozen.
- Whiz up dry bread into crumbs in a food processor and freeze in plastic bags. Add some grated cheese and you’ve got an easy gratin topping for macaroni cheese or a pasta bake. Plain or cheesy crumbs will freeze well for up to 3 months.
- Leftover bits of crusty loaves, such as baguette or ciabatta, can be cut into cubes and dried in a moderate oven to make croutons. Scatter over a baking tray and bake at 190C/fan oven 170C/gas 5 for 10-15 minutes or until crisp. Freeze in a lidded container for up to 3 months and thaw or warm through from frozen just before using.
- You can freshen up crusty loaves and rolls by sprinkling with a little water then placing on a baking tray and reheating in a hot oven at around 200C/fan oven 180C/gas 6 for 5-10 minutes, depending on size. Either use a water spray bottle or pass very briefly under a cold running tap.
- Keep biscuits in a tight fitting container. The less air around them, the slower they will go stale. You can also freeze them in lidded containers for 2-3 months.
- Plain biscuits that have gone a little soft can be heated on a baking tray to re-crisp. Bake at 200C/fan oven 180C/gas 6 for just 6-8 minutes then leave to cool.
- When serving a loaf-shaped cake, such as a Madeira cake, cut from the centre of the cake rather than one end, then push the cake back together to stop it drying out. Wrap in foil, place in a cake tin or put on a plate and cover with cling film.
- Leftover sponge cake can be cut into wedges and then warmed in the microwave for a hot sponge pudding. It works particularly well with chocolate fudge cake. Don’t reheat for more than about 20 seconds on HIGH as it will begin to harden.
- Most cakes freeze brilliantly for up to 3 months and it’s a fantastic way of saving leftover cake from a party. Butter cream icings freeze best as glace icings can go a little runny.
- Croissants, pains au chocolate, scones and scotch pancakes freeze really well, so buy a larger than usual pack and freeze in well sealed bags for up to 2 months. Warm through in a moderate oven from frozen before serving.