Why not treat yourself to a good old-fashioned baking day? Fill your freezer with cakes and scones that can be quickly defrosted when your maiden aunt calls to tell you she’s dropping in for tea this afternoon. Or your child announces at bedtime that he has to take a cake in for the school fête tomorrow.
Most cakes can be frozen. Six months is the average keeping time although Fruit Cakes which improve with ageing, will keep longer; iced cakes, on the other hand, lose some of their quality after two months.
If you want to prepare an iced cake in advance for a special occasion, freeze it unwrapped until the icing is firm. Then wrap in double foil and film – with the extra protection of a container if there is intricate decoration – and store. It is usually preferable to freeze the un-iced cake and decorate it after thawing, although cakes covered in butter-cream are an exception to this rule as butter-cream freezes well. We’ll look at wedding cakes later on.
- Use natural essences rather than artificial flavourings
- Reduce the quantity of essences or spices slightly as their strength will increase
- Ensure the cake is completely cool before you freeze it
- If you’re Making a Sponge or other layer cake, freeze the layers separately (or interweave with cling film or greaseproof) and don’t fill with jam before freezing
- Pack the food carefully, excluding as much air as possible
- Use proper freezer bags available from supermarkets as thinner bags don’t protect the cake as well against freezing damage
- Fatless whisked sponge cakes do not freeze well
Allow a large cake to cool before wrapping it in foil, sealing the edges as well as you can, and putting it in a freezer bag or several layers of cling film.
Bake Scones or small cakes in the usual way before freezing in polythene bags in useable quantities. You might like to wrap slices of fruit cake in greaseproof or cling film before freezing in a bag, creating a useful store to keep for packed school lunches.
Thaw plain and small cakes in their packaging at room temperature; iced cakes need to be unwrapped before thawing to prevent the packaging sticking to the icing. Lightly cover a large iced cake before thawing, overnight, in the refrigerator. Cooking scones from frozen, wrapped in foil, at 200ºC, gas mark 6, for 10 minutes, will refresh them nicely.
Biscuits also benefit from re-heating if baked before freezing, but you might prefer to freeze them unbaked. They will keep well for about 6 months, although rich mixtures i.e. those that contain at least ¼ fat to flour, are best.
Uncooked dough can be shaped before freezing, or formed into a roll ready for slicing into cookies when needed. They can be cooked from frozen but remember to allow an extra 7-10 minutes cooking time. Thawed, cooked biscuits can be crisped in a warm oven for 5 minutes.
Freeze before cooking, putting the mixture in an airtight container. Alternatively line with greased foil the tin in which the cake will eventually be cooked. Fill it with the mixture and allow to freeze uncovered. Remove the frozen mixture from the tin, wrap in foil and cling film, before returning it to the freezer.
To thaw the mixture, leave at room temperature for 2-3 hours then use as fresh. If the mixture has been pre-shaped, it can be unwrapped and returned to the original tin for cooking in the usual way (but for longer).
It used to be traditional to keep a layer of wedding cake for the christening of the first child but, these, days, with so many couples choosing to wait before having children, it’s more usual to save it for the first wedding anniversary celebration. A frozen fruit cake will keep well for this length of time – and even longer.
Before freezing remove any loose ornaments, ribbon or other decoration. Then put the cake, uncovered, into the freezer until the icing is frozen. After that you’ll need to wrap it very well, beginning with a layer of cling film to make it as airtight as possible. Follow that with at least two layers of thick foil, and another layer of cling film to finish it off.
The icing should keep for a year but, longer than that and, you may prefer to chip it off, leaving the marzipan ready for re-icing. With a freezer full of goodies, you’ll never be stuck for a tea-time treat!
Did you know you can also freeze homemade biscuits? Find out how by reading our feature Cookies To Keep In The Freezer.