I don't need a recipe. I have that, just guidance. Can my cake sit iced for 5 days before cutting?



betteirene December 18, 2010
What a beautifully-wrapped gift, hardlikearmour. Thank you!

Short answer: Yes, but only if you use a cake from a mix and American buttercream frosting (powdered sugar, shortening, vanilla and water). Or if it's a fruitcake.

You know those luscious-looking decorated cakes you see in bakery cold cases at supermarkets? At most mass-market grocers, the plain cakes come in already-baked half sheets. Decorators cut them to size, spread buttercream out of five-gallon buckets on the cakes, pipe or airbrush some colors on top, maybe stick on a plastic toy, write "Happy Birthday," and call it good. The cake is placed on a plastic base and covered with a dome lid, which does a good job of sealing out dust, but those containers weren't designed to provide airtight storage. These cakes need some breathing space, otherwise humidity would make the frosting sag and weep from condensation.

Most times, the cakes are refrigerated, but it's all for show: refrigeration is not required. Whether or not they are kept cold, the cakes have a shelf life of five days, and you have three more days after taking it home to eat it or freeze it. Ewwwww--you paid $15 or $25 for that?!

So, GemmyLou, if your cake fits the above description, refrigerate it first to firm up the frosting, then wrap it loosely in plastic and refrigerate. Or place it in a cardboard box without plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

If your cake is homemade, to help it stay moist longer, wrap the pans in foil the minute they come out of the oven, then freeze them. (Don't let the pans touch any packages, and put a cooling rack on the floor of your freezer to protect it from the hot pans.) This is supposed to keep the moisture (steam) in the cake instead of letting it evaporate. When the cake is frozen (its sugar prevents the cakes from freezing solid as rock), remove the foil, place the pan over a high flame, count to 20 and flip the cake out of the pan and onto a plate. If it doesn't release, place the pan on the burner a few seconds more, just long enough for the non-stick preparation (Pam or flour/shortening) to soften. Frost the cake while it's still very cold, then refrigerate it immediately. Allow it to sit at room temp for a bit, maybe a half hour, before serving.

If you're using French, Italian or Swiss buttercream frosting, it is possible to keep the cake for five days before serving, but only if it's refrigerated or frozen very airtight so that the delicate frosting doesn't pick up any off odors lurking in your refrigerator or freezer. (Even if you can't smell them, they're there.) But if you've gone through all the care and expense of making real buttercream, you should present it at its peak, which is pretty close to immediately after frosting.
hardlikearmour December 18, 2010
What type of cake? Most cakes dry out over time, and are best w/in a few days of baking. When I have to bake a cake more than 24 hours ahead, I generally sprinkle them with a sugar syrup to help keep them moist.
Betteirene may have some good advice for you if she's around today.
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