My sister called me up a day ago, she sounded frustrated. Two days prior, I had taught her how to make some super tasty scones, and she was thrilled as to how they came out. In this call though, she had been irritated about the same scones! They were now not reheating well. She said they were less moist, and she had tried to heat them in her toaster/air fryer. They had dried out and just did not have the same perfect texture from a few days before. So, I went through the best process to help console her in her predicament. I will now share with you the reasons why this happens and give you some tips, so your pastries and breads can have the best reheated pastry possible!
Baked goods and pastries are not going to be at their best upon reheating because they start to get stale, but we can do them justice with a two-part heating approach.
Why doesn’t my pastry or baked good reheat well?
Well, there are a few factors involved when dealing with reheating.
First, baked goods start to get stale after the first day.
Depending on the baked good, you may have a reheating window of 1-5 days before you either refrigerate or freeze.
The structure of breads and pastries has to do with the ingredients. Store bought items usually preserve the nature of these ingredients through preservatives to stretch the shelf life. Most pastries you make at home though, (thankfully) do not have those preservatives.
The fact that pastries use wheat flour means that it crisps up initially while retaining moist air pockets inside. Moisture in the air can soften the baked flour, which affects the outer texture of the bread or baked good. This usually happens if you live closer to sea level, in a humid environment, or in the summer months if you live near water. Conversely when it is left out in drier air it will start to dry out and crumble over time. This happens more quickly at higher altitudes, or during winter months where there is dryer air.
When talking about the inside, consider the ingredients of water, butter, egg, or other dairy products used in the pastry. The elasticity, stringiness and gooeyness are at play here. These ingredients that are initially making the bread or pastry moist, will start to evaporate or get stale, if again, it is in a dry environment. These same ingredients will end up making the bread or pastry soggy in a humid environment.
Eventually the bread, pastry or baked good, will either stale and dry up like a rock, or get soggy and grow mold if left too long. To prevent this from happening, I will share some suggestions, listed below, for easy ways to reheat these items to get the right moisture in the middle while still having the crispiness on the outside!
Second, how you initially stored it may have something to do with the outcome when reheated.
All pastries and bread items need to be stored well to have the chance of being reheated properly! Most can be kept in a cool dry place at room temperature, as long as they are kept in an airtight container. This can be achieved with plastic wrap or parchment paper with additional aluminum on the outside. They can also be placed in a Tupperware type container, if it is not too big for the number of pastries being stored inside. Too much contact with air will change the pastry faster to the outcomes I mentioned above, so try to limit the exposure. But there are other ways to store it to preserve it for a longer time while retaining its integrity.
Next, let me state that the worst place to store your baked goods is in the fridge. This is, of course, unless you are dealing with cakes sealed by frosting or items that you will eat within a day. The reason it is the worst is because it adds unnecessary moisture to the outside and inside of your baked goods, without having a strong enough chilling effect to preserve the integrity of the precious baked items.
The last storage suggestion I have is to freeze the bread or pastry. Freezing is the best way to extend the window of time in which you can reheat and eat your pastries, especially if you want to savor them and not be forced to eat them immediately after their initial baking. If you have already baked them, or bought them from a café, then freezing them will retain a lot of their initial integrity. You can then bring it out to thaw for up to 15 minutes before following the procedures in the next section. If you are baking them from scratch, consider freezing them at the point just before you are ready to bake. Tightly covered, they will last longer and have a better product the day you eat it, as they would be freshly baked.
Third, you may be using the wrong method for reheating,
or you may need some extra tools for the method to work properly. A good rule of thumb is to reheat it by the same method it was first made (aka baked in the oven).
Reheating can be tricky with baked goods. You want to have that initial crispy outside and the tender, moist inside that excited you when you ate it fresh!
Microwaving the baked item is everyone’s go to, and while it is fantastic for holding moisture (with certain techniques), it will not give it the crispiness we crave on the outside. You might want to contemplate a few of the following suggestions for reheating baked goods.
How to reheat my pastry for the best results?
There are a few different ways to reheat your baked goods to get a crispy outside and a moist inside.
As I said above, microwaving is not going to be the best way to reheat your pastry unless you take some extra steps. That said, you can use the microwave as the first part of a two-part method. Like I claimed before, the microwave can heat the inside while keeping the pastry moist.
First part of the method:
To do this part properly, it is best to wrap it in a paper towel or light cloth towel when heating. This means removing any wrapping, especially aluminum foil which cannot be placed in the microwave.
Then, place the baked item on a microwave safe plate. The towel will help to retain the moisture into the pastry rather than letting out steam and making the whole microwave steamy or making the outside soggy.
Only heat for 30 seconds. (If it is being reheated from frozen, you may need to reheat it for another 30 seconds after rotating it.)
Now it’s time to pair the microwave heating with a second method. This will vary slightly based on the equipment you have in your kitchen. This second part will continue to reheat the pastry, while crisping up the outside. This part is essential to get close to the original texture of the baked goods.
Toaster oven method:
While you are doing the microwave heating, you can start to heat the toaster oven. This will help as it will already be ready to toast your baked good and crisp it faster without loosing the heat or moisture that is inside the bread or baked item. Aim for between 350°F and 400°F.
Keep in mind whether your baked item has frosting or is likely to break apart. This will determine whether you use a baking tray lined with aluminum foil or if you put it straight on the toaster rack. Use a tray if the above scenarios are at play. Also please make sure you unwrap it form the paper towel or cloth used in the microwave; we do not want to create a fire.
Toast for no more than 3 minutes. It may only take 1 minute to toast up (especially cookies), so make sure you have a timer set to check it.
Traditional oven method:
Preheat the oven to between 350°F and 400°F. Then start to heat in the microwave. Like the toaster oven, this will help as it will already be ready to toast your baked good and crisp it faster without losing the heat or moisture that is inside the bread or baked item. This method can also be used on its own as it is (more than likely) the original way that the bread/ pastry was cooked. It would retain most of the moisture that it had originally, if you stored it the ways that I mentioned above.
Use a baking tray that is flat and has small, rimmed sides. You can also wrap or rewrap the pastry in aluminum foil before placing it into the oven. Again, please make sure you unwrap it from the paper towel or cloth used in the microwave, we do not want to create a fire.
Bake for 3- 5 minutes. It takes a little longer to heat up than a toaster oven because of the size vs, a toaster and the heating coils are slightly further away from your pastry. However, it may also only take 1 minute to crisp up, especially with cookies, so make sure you have a timer set to check it.
Air fryer method:
While you are doing the microwave heating, you can start to heat the air fryer.
This method is going to be similar to the toaster oven. This method will vary a bit depending on whether your air fryer has one rack or multiple, and whether the fryer door is on the top or on the side. These things must be taken into consideration, because of how the heat is circulating inside the air fryer.
You want the pastry to be a safe distance from the heating coils and the fan. It also will vary greatly on how long it will take to crisp up and heat.
A stronger air fryer may take 30 seconds to one minute. While an air fryer that also toasts or some such thing, may take up to 4 minutes.
Depending on how wide the space is from the coils and the fan, or if it has compartments, you may be able to use a small tray or wrap in aluminum to heat (useful if there is frosting that might melt away). This works if there is a lot of space inside.
Otherwise, you may be able to place it on the rack or frying tray and heat it up
Also please make sure you unwrap it from the paper towel or cloth used in the microwave, we do not want to create a fire.
My goal is to help you better understand both what makes pastries so tricky to re-heat, and give you tricks as to how to reheat and make the best of your reheated treats!
If you found this post useful, please “like” it and share it with your friends! We welcome any comments below if you have tried any of these methods of reheating or if you have any further questions about this topic.
You can also check out more information about baked goods and pastries in our blog. If you are interested in going deeper with cooking and baking, we invite you to check out our cooking and baking classes!
About Becky W:
Chef, Cooking Instructor, and Owner of Becky's Pixie Kitchen.
My goal is to impact as many people, through my passion for food, in order to improve their lives with physical health, mental health, and quality of life.
At Becky's Pixie Kitchen we create cooking classes for the community to help kids and adults who want to cook at home, by providing instruction that promotes enthusiasm, encourages curiosity and focuses on the important pieces that make techniques and recipes easy and repeatable.