Food & Drink

How to send bakery items by mail

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box of cookies
Nothing beats getting a box of cookies in the mail
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Send bakery items by mail to family and friends for great gifts any time of year

Anyone who has lived away from home knows that that best thing to get in the mail besides money is baked goods. Cookies, cakes, breads and other goodies baked by Mom, Grandma or a sister who wants to move into your room always taste better than anything bought in a store.

While I've been known to shovel crumbs off the bottom of a cardboard box with a spoon, we all agree that receiving the bakery in one piece is nice. It's not hard to send bakery items by mail - with proper planning and packing, they'll arrive at their destination in one piece and smelling like they just popped out of the oven.

The first thing to consider before you send bakery items is what to bake. Cookies are everyone's favorites, but even the tastiest ones lose something when the box looks like it's full of pieces of a puzzle that was once a giant macaroon. Soft cookies suffer less breakage than crispy ones or butter cookies.

Some cookies, like chocolate chip cookies, can be made in a pan as a bar cookie and that helps them stand up to packing and shipping. Brownies, bars and biscottis resist crumbling and are excellent choices.

Dessert breads pound cakes are delicious treats that ship like the brick shapes they resemble - it's best not to slice them before packing.

On the other hand, avoid sending moist cakes, especially those with icing or fillings that are perishable. They're difficult to pack and don't stand up well to box jostling, The same goes for cupcakes and soft muffins. No matter which you decide to bake, let the goods cool completely before packing, but don't wait too long - you want them to arrive fresh.

Packing tips

The surest way to protect baked goods and avoid breakage is to use two or more boxes or containers - an outer sturdy cardboard box and one or more inside.

Wrap cookies in foil or waxed paper or individual bags and pack similar cookies together - they'll fit better in the container and won't affect the taste of other cookies.

Put wrapped cookies in a sturdy container, like a cardboard box, plastic container or cookie tin. Use a container that's slightly larger than the cookies so you don't crush them when closing.

For breads and pound cakes, bake them in disposable aluminum pans or lidded bakeware, wrap the pans in foil or waxed paper and put them in an inner container.

For bars or brownies, you can leave them in a disposable baking pan or cut and stack them with waxed paper between each layer. Pack them in a box with a little extra room.

Outer box and labels

Place your inside boxes in a sturdy outer box and fill the empty spaces with packing peanuts, bubble wrap or crumpled newspapers for cushioning. Make sure there's paper or peanuts on the bottom and the top too. Seal the box, mark it "Perishable" on each side, make sure the labels are legible and take it to the Post Office. Consider using Priority Mail because it usually arrives in two days.

Order online instead

If that's too much to handle, consider ordering a gift from an online baked goods store  - it's much easier, the bakery is tasty and they usually include a catalog so the gift recipient can send you something in return!

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