You’ve spent hours in the kitchen baking the perfect cake its fragrant aromas wafting gently through the house. Now the hard work is done, don’t let it go to waste by neglectful storage. Read our tips on successful storage to get the best from every cake you bake.
Working Out the Use-By Date
If you need to bake a cake well in advance, you have two options: play safe with a Fruit or Nut Cake – dense, and made with alcohol – or bake a cake which will freeze well.
Fruit cakes are the best keepers, particularly if they’re soaked with alcohol like brandy, which acts as a preservative. You can keep a Christmas or wedding cake (wrapped in a double layer of greaseproof paper and foil, and kept in a tin) for about three months, ‘feeding’ it with alcohol from time to time – in fact, it will probably taste all the better for it.
For other cakes, two factors influence the storage capacity: the cake ingredients, and the Type of Icing. Any cake made with perishables (ingredients you’d normally keep in the fridge, like cheese and cream) will be best off kept in the fridge and eaten within a few days. Cakes filled with jam will keep happily at room temperature for up to about 5 days (any longer and the jam can start to form mould).
As for icings: Buttercream Icing, made with fresh butter, will keep in the fridge for a fortnight; meanwhile, royal fondant icing, once dried in the open, will keep in an airtight tin for up to three months. Cream-based, custard-based and other soft icings have to go in the fridge, but any glace icing-topped cakes will be fine at room temperature (in a container or cake dome) for a few days or even more.
Wrapping and Keeping
Tins have always been used for cake storage, and with good reason. Modern Tupperware, wonderful for sandwiches and leftover beans, has a tendency to take on the scent of food that’s been kept inside it. Unless it’s brand new, choose a cake tin instead, which will keep out air and unwelcome smells. Your cake will then taste exactly as it did when it was first baked. After all, you don’t want a cheddar-and-onion scented date loaf, do you?
For added security, wrap your cake in greaseproof paper before placing it inside the tin. If your cake is a cream-filled sponge or a dramatic cheesecake, you could also use a glass cake dome: the glamorous way to store and serve! Keep this inside the fridge and if you’re worried about scent penetration, line the cake with paper before putting it in.
Where to keep it? The most important thing is to ensure you keep the cake away from sunlight, heat sources, and areas of high humidity – all of these can affect it negatively.
Want to Bring Out Freshly Baked Cakes?
Here’s a hint – if you are expecting guests and you’d like to bake in advance, but you’d also like to bring out cakes that are still warm from the oven, choose a recipe that permits a gap between mixing and baking. Pastry-based cakes will be fine, since pastry will sit for up to two days in the fridge; scones and griddle cakes will also work well. Simply make up the pastry or cake dough in advance, then wrap it well in clingfilm and put into the fridge. When you’re ready to roll it out, preheat the oven, roll and cut your cakes. They will be freshly baked, and you won’t have spent an hour in the kitchen making them.
Cakes as Gifts
Miniature fruit cakes are perfect for neighbours at Christmas. Just make sure you don’t ice them until the last minute – instead, keep them tightly wrapped with the main cake, feeding with brandy throughout December. Cover with marzipan and royal icing the day you plan to give the cakes, then wrap in clear acetate and tie a use-by tag to the neck (including storage directions for best keeping). If you’re planning to give another type of cake, you will have to make it on the day – why not find a vintage cake tin to package them in?
how to preserve home made cakes which spoils in 02 to 03 days of making rather then we bring from market the last for longer time .. Please send me answer as early as possible on my mail ID
Deepak - 22-Sep-13 @ 8:54 AM
This information very useful for me which have a plan to start cake business beside as vanilla farmer in West Java, Indonesia. Thank you so much.
Agus Ramada - 28-Feb-13 @ 4:31 PM
if the best before date on my fondant icing is July 2012 and still in original packaging can i still use it? If so when till?
Jolly - 6-Sep-12 @ 8:57 PM
I always hear about soaking cakes in brandy (alcohol) as a form of preservative. If I may ask does one need to deep d cake in a bowl of brandy after baking or during mixing, add. Some quantity of brandy. I am asking cos anytime I bake, I add alcohol to d mixture but within 3-4 days, d cake starts getting mucor. Pls are there other forms of presevatives I should be using?
Akp - 6-Aug-12 @ 9:53 PM
Of course, something you don't mention is that in a family a cake just isn't going to lasst long enough to need storage. It's rare that one of mine last more than two days when my horde get their hands on it. But I've found a cake tine is the best way to keep a cake, as Tupperware generally isn't big enough for a cake, or if it is, it seems huge and impossible to store. If you use cream, keep the tin in the fridge, obviously, or it'll go off overnightr.
barbara - 3-Jul-12 @ 5:40 AM
I'm having a bad day. Made a mistake doing a recipe for a 9" cake and realised I'd used too much butter at the add eggs stage so decided to up it to a 10" cake but my tin is not that big. The tin is quite high though so I hope it will be OK. What do you think?
Now it is also going to take longer to cook I cannot put it in the oven as we are going out later. I have put it in the fridge – do you think it will be OK to cook it tomorrow? Or maybe I could put it in when we get home?
rookwood - 31-Mar-12 @ 4:08 PM
hi,i,v made a birthday choclate cake ,and put iceing on , i dont needthe cake till the 4 of april, wii it be ok to freeze today.the 17 of march.alsohow do make rosess .also if i was to buy a ready made birthday cake can i freeze that in its box, thank you .michaela x
ann - 17-Mar-12 @ 4:19 PM
@Iheoma. Cover in greaseproof paper and store in a tin. It will be fine for a few days.
CakeBaker - 24-Feb-12 @ 2:36 PM
how's d best way to preserve a cake that has been iced with FONDANT,bcos each time i put it in the refrigerator till the next day it sweats SO MUCH that it spoils the decoration,PLS I DESPERATELY NEED HELP. Tanks
iheoma - 24-Feb-12 @ 1:25 PM
@YoungBaker - a sponge cake will easily keep for a week or longer if covered in fondant icing. Don't use fresh cream as a filling though.
CakeBaker - 13-Dec-11 @ 2:38 PM
I was hoping to make a christmas cake for my family, but hate fruit cakes. I was wondering if it would be ok to use a sponge cake with regal icing. And if so how long would it keep for?
YoungBaker - 11-Dec-11 @ 9:08 AM
i have made christmas cake they have been covered in marzipan and iced how do i store them
painter50 - 6-Dec-11 @ 8:44 AM
I was hoping you could help me. I am looking to bake my own wedding cake. However I'm not sure what kind of baking tins to purchase. Having looked around I have found the following types of tins:
Quantum with a loose base
Also would you recommend a loosed tin base or would it not make much difference. I would really appreciate your feed back on this.
gurps - 8-Jun-11 @ 12:18 PM
I'm making a wedding cake which has creme fraiche and white chocolate filling and icing and I was wondering if I could make it about 5 days before?
I will then cover it in fondant (regal ice) icing.