Most baked goods are at their best when fresh out of the oven, but it isn't always possible -- or necessarily the best move -- to eat them all in one sitting. Whether you deliberately baked for the freezer or have unexpected leftovers that have passed their prime, reheating baked goods properly is a useful skill.
In Your Microwave
Although purists might shudder at the notion, your microwave can be a useful and appropriate way to reheat baked goods. It's best-suited for use with soft or moist items, such as muffins, flatbreads, and sliced quick breads or coffee cakes. The microwave energy converts moisture in the baked goods to steam, softening and moistening them as they heat. Set your microwave to 50 percent power and heat the goods in short increments, as low as 8 to 10 seconds at a time, until they're warmed to your taste. Microwave heating is uneven, so let your goods rest for a minute or two so the heat can redistribute. If you overheat them, they'll grow tough and leathery.
In Your Oven
Crisp puff or phyllo pastry, crusty loaves of bread, flaky biscuits and many other baked goods are better reheated in the oven. Most pies and pastries can be gently reheated at 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit until warmed through, or pies can be reheated more quickly at 300 to 350 F if necessary. Whole loaves of bread and quickbreads can be warmed at 350 F, if you prefer them crusty, or wrapped in foil at up to 400 F for a softer finish. If your goods have gotten slightly dry but aren't suitable for microwaving, wrap them first in a dry paper towel and then a damp one; then over-wrap in foil. Ten to 15 minutes at 400 F will both reheat and soften your baked items.
- University of Georgia Extension: Freezing Prepared Foods
- On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; Harold McGee
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.