Let’s face it – the moment when a cookie craving strikes isn’t always a moment when you have time to cream butter and sugar, fold in sifted flour, weigh chocolate chips, roll, cut, and bake. So set aside some baking time and make a hearty Batch of Cookies – then put them in the freezer for a rainy day. Here’s how to start your freezer cookie stash…
Making and Freezing Cookies
Most cookies will adapt nicely to being frozen and can be baked without thawing, with just a few extra minutes in the oven. Here are a few freezing tips:
- Don’t re-freeze anything that’s already been frozen. You can freeze doughs containing eggs and cream – choose fat-rich doughs (at least ¼ fat to flour).
- Give your unthawed cookies an extra 7-10 minutes in the oven.
- Use natural flavourings and decrease the amount of spice or zest as flavours tend to penetrate and deepen in the freezer.
- Open-freeze shaped cookies by arranging them on a Baking Sheet as if you were about to bake them, then putting carefully into the freezer drawer. After an hour or two, they’ll be hard enough to remove and pack into bags – this will keep them from freezing all squidged together.
Basic Icebox Cookies
’Icebox’ is the American term for ‘freezer’ and these cookies are also sometimes called ‘slice and bake’ cookies. The idea is that you form the dough into a roll, wrap and freeze it, so it’s ready to remove and slice at your whim. This simple recipe depends on its ingredients, so choose good quality eggs and butter – ones that you enjoy eating on their own!
For variation, try swapping 2tbsp flour for 2tbsp cocoa; adding the zest of one orange or lemon; or adding dried cranberries, chopped chocolate pieces, ground almonds, or chopped hazelnuts.
You will need:
- 175g (6oz) plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 85g (3 ½oz) butter, softened at room temperature
- 85g (3 ½oz) caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- Seeds from 1 vanilla pod, or 1tsp vanilla extract
- Coarse sugar (optional)
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar (leaving the butter at room temperature makes this easier). You can use your hands to do this if you don’t mind getting messy! Beat them until they have become paler in colour; the volume will seem to have increased. Add the egg yolk and vanilla seeds and beat them in – the mixture might curdle slightly but keep beating until it’s all together.
Sift the flour and baking powder onto the butter mixture, and add the pinch of salt. Stir (don’t beat) until the mixture comes together to make a soft dough.
Make a rectangle of greaseproof paper and flour it lightly, then slap the dough onto it and shape it into a roll of about 2 inches diameter. Use the paper to roll and wrap the dough roll – take care to roll it quite well, because it will tend to have air bubbles in the middle. If using, sprinkle coarse sugar over the surface of the roll, pressing it lightly to coat.
If you want to bake the cookies straight away, you’ll need to refrigerate the roll for an hour before slicing. If you’re putting the roll directly in the freezer, wrap it in an extra layer of foil and store it carefully in the freezer, making sure there’s nothing on top to squish it!
To bake the cookies, have a cup of hot water and a sharp knife ready. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Slice the cookie roll in ¼ inch pieces and arrange on a baking tray, then bake for 5-10 minutes (from fridge) or 12-20 minutes (from freezer) – you’ll have to keep checking them. Once you’ve done the first batch, note the timings so you can walk away from the next batches.