A freshly baked pastry is one of life's great pleasures, but unless you live next door to a bakery it's likely that sometimes you'll want to save a couple for later. Maybe you'd like to stop on your way home from work on Friday evening to buy croissants for a weekend brunch, or save a particularly delicious Danish you discovered as a lunchtime treat to share with a friend who's visiting later in the week. Sometimes you might even want your pastries to last for longer than a day or two--when you're buying in the Christmas groceries, for example. So what can you do to keep your pastries from getting hard and stale before you're ready to eat them?
Preparing Your Pastries For Storage
Before using any of these methods, your pastries need to be completely cool. If they're so fresh from the bakery that they're still a little warm, set them on a cooling rack till they're room temperature.
Keeping Pastry Fresh For 24-48 Hours
If all you want is to have fresh pastry waiting for you in the morning put them into a paper bag, put the paper bag inside a zip-lock plastic food storage bag, and gently squeeze excess air out of the zip-lock as you close it. They can then wait for you in a cupboard or in your pantry. Putting them in paper first rather than directly inside the plastic helps them to retain their delicious crisp moisture without the sogginess that can be caused by condensation on the inside of a plastic bag.
Keeping Pastry Fresh For 48 Hours-1 Week
For shorter periods, it's best not to refrigerate your pastries as the moist air inside a fridge can affect the crispness of a pastry's crust. After a day or two, though, this becomes a moot point--they'll be a little less crisp anyway, and the fridge helps them keep their freshness going for a little longer. Cover your pastries individually in plastic wrap, being careful to wrap them up as tightly as possible without squashing them. Put them in a paper bag and then a zip-lock, squeezing out the air as before. If you have an airtight food storage container, put the whole thing in that. You can then store your box of pastries in the fridge.
Keeping Pastry Fresh For 1-3 Weeks+
To store them for as long as possible, follow the recommendations for a week-long period--but freeze them rather than keeping them in the fridge. When it's time to eat, don't try to defrost them in the microwave; unwrap them and leave them on a cooling rack to defrost at room temperature.
Serving Your Freshly Stored Pastries
However you choose to store your pastries, the method for serving them remains the same: you need to heat them up in the oven. Cold pastry can be delicious, but unless they're under 24hrs old they won't taste right unless you warm them. Pre-heat the oven to 175° C (Gas Mark 4) and pop them in for ten minutes on a lightly greased baking sheet. Don't be tempted to microwave them instead; they'll come out soggy, and lose all their delicious crispness.