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Why Don't My Pastries Reheat Well?

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.