Bread

The Baked Goods You Can Make Weeks (Weeks!) Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just weeks away! To help out with the most labor intensive, holiest of cooking holidays, we're here with a comprehensive Thanksgiving prep list. You've already learned to stock up on gravies, soups, and sauces, and now it's time to look at the baked goods you can make (and freeze!) in the weeks leading up to the big event.

There are a lot of Thanksgiving dishes that will last in the freezer for several months, namely rolls, bread, biscuits, and stuffing.

Here's how to get started on them now:


Rolls

Here, you have two options: bake and then freeze or freeze un-baked and bake later.

For those who'd like to totally check rolls off of your Thanksgiving to-do list, baking and freezing is your best option. Bake your rolls as usual, then let cool completely and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to a month. To thaw, take your rolls out of the freezer, make sure the foil's not too tight around the rolls, then thaw at room temperature overnight. You could eat them straight-away, but for a fresh baked feel, pop them into a 300°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes to warm through.

You can also freeze un-baked and bake later, you'll want to make your dough with cool water (or another liquid, like milk), so says King Arthur Flour's blog. This is to avoid activating the yeast for as long as possible, so it's less likely to become damaged when frozen. Their blog also recommends increasing the amount of yeast you use by 20%, as a sort of damage control.

As soon as your dough is fully-kneaded, shape your rolls straightway. You don't need to let it rise! Again, you want to activate the yeast as little as possible. Place your rolls on a parchment or wax paper-lined sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze the rolls completely (we're talking rock hard), then remove from the sheet pan, and place into a freezer bag. The day you want to freeze and bake your rolls, remove the rolls from the freezer, space the rolls onto a lightly greased pan or baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let thaw and rise for 4 to 5 hours. Once the rolls have risen, bake them as per usual! King Arthur's site recommends freezing rolls for up to 3 weeks—perfect!—as the cold will, eventually, kill the yeast, rendering the rolls' riseability null.


Yeasted Bread

Like the rolls, there are two ways to freeze whole bread loaves. The first is freezing fully-baked bread. Make sure the bread is completely cool—wrapping hot bread will make it soggy upon reheating—and place it in a large freezer bag. If your loaf's too big to fit into a single bag (like a baguette), use two bags, sealing them tightly using freezer tape. To thaw bread, let it sit at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours and, to serve it hot, place in a 300°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes to warm through.

The second option is to par-bake your loaves, then freeze. To do so, make your bread as normal, pop it into the oven at the temperature the recipe suggests, bake for 12 to 15 minutes, and remove from the oven. You want the bread to be set, but not completely brown. Let the bread cool completely before wrapping as instructed above and freezing. To bake, thaw the bread overnight in the fridge, wrapped, and bake at the bread's designated temperature until the loaf is browned, sounds hollow when turned over and tapped on the bottom, and/or has an internal temperature of 190°F to 200°F.


Stuffing

Our Hotline has some good stuffing freezing tips. First, make the stuffing (here, we're talking specifically about bread-based stuffing). Let it cool, then place into a freezer bag or bags. When ready to cook, thaw the stuffing in the fridge overnight. From here, our Hotline has a few suggestions: For a drier, fluffier stuffing, stir in a bit more toasted/dry bread or breadcrumbs to absorb any of the condensation released from defrosting, place it in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake until it's as fluffy as when you first made it. For a more moist stuffing, thaw as mentioned, add a bit of extra broth, cover with foil and bake, remove the foil, and dot it with butter and place back in the oven to brown the top.


Cornbread

This is easy! Bake the cornbread as per your recipe's instructions and allow to cool completely. You can remove it from the pan and place it in a freezer bag whole, halved, whatever you like—or, if you baked the cornbread in a aluminum pan you can spare, just freeze it in the pan. Place the cornbread in large freezer bag (alternatively, wrap in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil, and seal with freezer tape), and freeze. To reheat, take out of the plastic bag, cover in foil, and place in a 300°F oven until warmed through. The cornbread might not be as moist after baking it a second time, but, hey it's still cornbread and you still saved time.


Biscuits

To freeze biscuits, follow the recipe's directions for mixing and shaping your dough, then place the un-baked biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Once the biscuits are fully-frozen, remove from the baking sheet and place into a freezer bag. When ready to bake, place (again) on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake as normal—adding a few minutes onto the cook time to account for the biscuits having been frozen.

What do you make in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments below!

6 Comments

AntoniaJames November 1, 2016
Menu decided, recipes printed, notebook created, shopping lists created. Check.<br />Game plan for what prep, cooking and baking tasks will happen, when. Check.<br />All perishables purchased. Check.<br />Game plan for all remaining shopping. Check.<br />Artisanal breads baked (Tartine Walnut and Olive, and Tartine baguettes). Check.<br />Pie crusts in freezer. Check.<br />Beets pickled. Check (done last night!)<br />Menu plan for all dinners from November 1 through the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Check.<br />Freezer stocked with 14 dinners to serve between 10/31 and Thanksgiving; all others take 20 minutes or less of active time. Check. (See http://tinyurl.com/HLCNovPlan )<br />For more information on how / why this is happening, see https://food52.com/blog/8826-how-to-hike-a-mountain-and-serve-thanksgiving-dinner-on-the-same-day <br /> ;o) P.S. I would have roasted turkey wings / made stock and gravy if WFM had had any when I shopped on Friday. It turned out just as well, because there were gorgeous Kirbys at the farmers' market, so I made and canned dill pickles instead, and made candied orange peel for my upcoming December holiday baking (and made quite a few of the dinners noted above, which will make for the smoothest of sailing through this lovely, not hectic, month of November and well into December)
 
Jonathan G. November 7, 2016
WTF.
 
amysarah November 1, 2016
So far I've made and frozen: Parker House rolls; puff pastry spinach/cheese palmiers (to slice/bake for drinks); and classic turkey gravy w/a splash of Madeira - made ahead with roasted turkey wings/legs. Also muffins for breakfast that day - cornmeal honey w/fresh cranberries, and olive oil w/walnuts & dried currants (recipe on this site, btw.)
 
Author Comment
Riddley G. November 1, 2016
I love the idea of freezing muffins for an easy holiday breakfast! I will be doing the same. Thank you!
 
Matilda L. November 1, 2016
I salute you and your planning mojo, amysarah!
 
amysarah November 1, 2016
Don't be too impressed - I only thought to freeze muffins for T-giving after they were already made, the puff pastry was leftover in the fridge, and the rolls - well, let's say my baking as work avoidance mojo is highly developed!