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How and why to freeze cake

A 2 layer cake just defrosted and iced

Grab a cup of your favourite warm beverage and join me for a cozy chat about baking and the wonders of freezing cakes. Today, I’ll share with you the secret to having a fantastic display of fresh and scrumptious cakes for your next big event. Not only can you freeze cake, but doing so can actually enhance their flavour!

As a pastry chef, I know the challenge of preparing a plethora of cakes, cookies, and slices on a day-to-day basis. The task can be quite daunting if you don’t plan. But fear not, freezing cakes is not only possible, but it’s also a common practice in professional kitchens!

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You may be wondering, “Is freezing cake really okay?” The answer is a resounding yes! Freezing cakes is a fantastic method for managing a large baking project and ensuring that your treats remain fresh and delectable.

A cake that has a fondant ratatouille with it.

Believe it or not, cakes can taste even better after a stint in the freezer; just a good curry tastes better the next day. The freezing process allows the flavours to meld and develop, resulting in a more harmonious taste. Simply bake your cakes, allowing them to completely cool, pop them in the freezer the next day, and keep them there until you’re ready to serve. This clever technique is a valuable addition to any baker’s arsenal.

If you want to store your cake for up to three months, it’s crucial to do it properly. First, make sure the cake is fully cooled. Then, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and cover it in aluminium foil. For added protection, use an airtight plastic bag or container. When you’re ready to enjoy your cake, simply take it out of the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature for a few hours before unwrapping it. This will help preserve the cake’s flavour, freshness, and texture.

A 6 layer rainbow cake with a slice cut out.
Rainbow cake (based on a butter cake)

Can you store cake in the fridge?

The fridge has a drying atmosphere, and if we put all the cakes I make for an open day in the refrigerator, they would be stale and dry for the big event. Not a good representation of what we do!

Contrary to popular belief, freezing cakes is an effective way to preserve their freshness. To better understand this, let’s look at bread. When you store bread in the fridge, it quickly becomes inedible. We’ve all seen the sorry state of an unwrapped sandwich left in the refrigerator, with its edges curling up within just a few hours.

Why do we want to freeze cake?

  • First of all, it takes the pressure off. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever had to decorate a cake for a big day.
  • It makes the structure easier to carve (if you need to shape it).
  • It makes them a little more robust while you work on them, reducing the risk of accidental damage.
  • Applying the crumb coat to a very cold cake is so much easier.
  • And, of course, it stops them from going stale while you’re organising the rest of the decorating components.

How to freeze cake at home (like a professional)

  1. Make and Bake your cake.
  2. Leave it on the bench, covered with a clean cloth, till it’s at room temperature (leaving it overnight is fine too).
  3. The next morning you can either fill the cake with buttercream or leave it plain. Pop it back in the cake tin that it was baked in, lined with baking paper, then wrap it all in a couple of layers of clingfilm. Or, as in my case, if you need to use the tin again, set it on a board or plate with a layer of baking paper underneath. Then wrap it in cling film, and then wrap again in a sheet of good quality foil.
  4. 12 – 24 hours before the day of serving, remove the cake and place it in the fridge to defrost or out on the bench. Leave all the wrapping on it, because condensation will gather on the outside of the wrapping, and you want that to stay on the outside before finishing the final coating and decorations.
A vanilla and rose cake on display.
Vanilla and rose cake

Other things to know about freezing cake

  • Fill your cake with a stable buttercream, but don’t do a crumb coat or final coat until the day (or the day before) you serve it. Freezing will cause thin layers of buttercream on the outside to crack because your cake will expand on freezing. Filling a cake inside with buttercream is okay because you don’t see it.
  • If you’re not doing the filling and your cake has layers, then use baking paper between each layer to stop them from sticking together before wrapping. Ensure it’s sitting on a good sturdy base so it won’t break while working with it. If your cake has many layers, use a board every two or three layers for support, especially if it has a tender crumb.
  • If you have other food in your freezer (like meat or fish), ensure they are also well sealed and stored below the cake. Don’t use a freezer that smells of freezer burn or other weird smells. Try to keep well-wrapped cakes at the back of your freezer where it’s the coldest.
  • If you need to carve your cake, remove it from the freezer and pop it in the fridge for a few hours. Take it out while it’s still semi-frozen, and you can easily carve it.
  • Apply the final coat of buttercream once the cake has defrosted but is still cold.
  • Use a crumb coat on your cake to make the final coat clean. A crumb coat is a thin layer of buttercream that is applied all over the cake. It’s smoothed off as neatly as possible and then placed in the fridge to firm up. You can apply this coat when the cake is very cold (but not frozen) on the outside edges. Crumb coating makes it so much easier to apply the final coat of buttercream, ganache or RTR.
  • Make sure the cake remains cool until it is served. Either place it back in the fridge (but not for too long) or in a cool spot in your home.
A cake that was made for Coles Grand Opening at Casey Central.
Cake made for the opening of a local supermarket (Yes, it’s ALL edible, even the boxes!)

Cake freezing and storage summary

The images I’ve inserted in my post are of cakes I’ve made in this very way. Freezing them till I have everything ready to assemble and serve. Nothing wrong with them. Right!

I made the cake below for the Grand Opening of Coles at Casey Central. If I hadn’t frozen the cake, I’d never had been able to assemble it in time. Every part was edible except for the boards that it sat on. This gave me the opportunity to make all the components in the weeks leading up to delivery while the cakes sat perfectly safe in the freezer.

The day before delivery, I took the cakes from the freezer, and early on the next day, I started the assembly.   There’s a bit more about this cake in this post on Casey Central Shopping Centre.

Want to know more?

Want to learn how to make perfect butter cakes? We have two online courses, one for a stand mixer and one for the Thermomix. Making perfect butter cakes unlocks a range of cake-baking possibilities.

Perfect butter cakes

4 Comments

  1. Hi there….we display our cake in chiller at 3 to 4 celsius but our cake shows crack on the ganash and the cream frosting…is it due to the lower temp? The Consultant Chef advised us to increase the display chiller temp to 6 to 8 celsius. What do u think?

    1. You could do that but the cake will then be in the danger zone of food safety. It will be more perishable at that temperature and frankly, I don’t think it will make too much difference, I think you cream frosting will still crack. It’s due to the cream drying out. Can you replace the cream frosting with a buttercream or a Philly cream cheese frosting?

  2. Hi there ?
    Your recipes and tips are wonderful to read, thank you for your email received today, I have enjoyed your site I feel quite inspired now as there are lots of recipes for the type of cooking I enjoy, I shall look forward to trying your recipes.?

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