What's a celebration without cake?! Whether you bake a homemade cake or purchase one, it's the perfect ending to any party. And when there are leftovers, it's important to know how to store cake properly to maximize shelf life and extend the fresh flavor.
Are you left wondering, do I refrigerate cake or not? What if it's frosted? Do I store it differently than unfrosted cake layers? You put the time and effort into baking or purchasing a cake, so you want to know that your leftovers are stored in the best way possible. Because of this, I've put together a guide to help answer your questions.
Should I refrigerate cake?
The obvious choice might be to store your cake in the refrigerator. We automatically think that the refrigerator extends the shelf life of all foods. However, when it comes to cake, this does not hold true. The opposite effect occurs. The refrigerator speeds up the process of evaporating the moisture from your cake and therefore causes it to become stale quicker. This not only holds true for cake but other baked goods and bread.
Cakes that have fresh fruit fillings, fruit toppings, or frosting made with whipped cream, cream cheese, or mascarpone are the exception to this rule. To store these types of cakes, you can chill the cake for 15 minutes to harden the frosting and then loosely cover with plastic wrap. Otherwise, place in a bakery box or cake container and store in the refrigerator.
Storing unfrosted cakes
Often it's easier to make cake layers in advance to prep and save time. Wrap each cake layer entirely with plastic wrap, ensuring that the sides, top, and bottom are tightly wrapped. If you prefer to keep your cake in its baking pan, cover the top of your baking pan tightly with plastic wrap to prevent air exposure.
You can keep your covered cake layers on your counter away from heat and direct sunlight for 6-7 days before it begins to stale.
Storing frosted cake
Frosted cakes are a bit easier to store as the frosting acts as a protective layer. Simply place your cake on a plate or cake stand and cover with a cake lid or an overturned bowl. Doing this will protect your cake from any particles in the air and protect your frosting and cake from losing its moisture. If you have a store-bought cake in a bakery box, then you can leave the cake in the box at room temperature for 24 hours. If you plan to store it in the box for several days, then I suggest wrapping the box with plastic wrap. Doing this will help prevent the cake from drying out.
Keep your covered cake on your counter away from heat and direct sunlight for 4-5 days.
Again, cakes that have fresh fruit fillings, fruit toppings, or frosting made with whipped cream, cream cheese, or mascarpone are the exception to this rule and should be stored in the refrigerator.
How to store cut cake?
Once you cut a cake, its moisture begins to evaporate, and the staling process accelerates. To help counter this, press a piece of parchment paper, wax paper or plastic wrap directly on the exposed sliced sides of the cake. Then store the cake as listed above.
Once a cake is sliced, it'll keep for about 3-4 days at room temperature.
How to freeze cakes
To store cake for a longer period of time, the freezer is an excellent option that keeps your cake fresh.
Bake and cool your cake completely. Wrap the layers tightly with plastic wrap in two layers and then wrap the exterior completely in aluminum foil. I always use a permanent marker to write the date on the foil. This way, I can remember exactly how long the cake is in the freezer. Place the wrapped cake into an airtight container (if you have one that fits) and store it in the freezer. If you don't have a container, you can add an extra layer of aluminum foil. This will provide the maximum freshness and help prevent freezer burn.
If you have a decorated cake in a bakery box, you can wrap the box tightly with plastic wrap twice and store it directly into the freezer.
Freeze your cake for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating or serving. Alternatively, you can frost thawed cakes straight from the refrigerator. The cold cake will help prevent cake crumbs from getting into your frosting.
Tips and takeaways
- Always wait to wrap your cake once it's completely cooled to room temperature.
- Oil-based cakes will store a little longer than butter-based cakes as they have more moisture.
- Avoid freezing delicate cakes such as angel food cake and chiffon cakes. They do not hold up well to freezing.