Does your cake need to be refrigerated? If you’re unsure, you're in the right place! I’ll cover everything you need to know about refrigerating cakes.
Whether or not a cake needs refrigeration depends. Most cakes can be left out at room temperature for a day or two with no issues. However, moist cakes, cakes with fresh fruit toppings, and cakes with dairy-based frostings or fillings like cream cheese should be refrigerated to prevent spoilage.
Are you unsure about how you can store your cake? As a cake expert, I have worked with a wide range of cakes, so I have experience handling and storing different cakes. I’ll cover everything you need to know about refrigerating cakes, including which types of cakes need to be refrigerated, how long they can be left out at room temperature, and how to store cakes. So, let's dive in and learn how to keep your cake fresh and tasty!
Does Cake Need to be Refrigerated?
So, does cake need to be refrigerated? Well, the answer is that it depends on the type of cake. Most cakes don’t need refrigeration and can be left outside at room temperature for one to two days, provided you store them in a cool place, away from direct sunlight.
But if you have moist cakes, cakes with dairy-based frostings like whipped cream and cream cheese, or cakes with fresh fruit toppings or fruit fillings, you might want to keep them in the fridge. Keeping them in the refrigerator will make them stay fresh.
Influence on Shelf Life
The shelf life of a cake can be influenced by refrigeration. If you have a cake that has a cream-based filling or frosting, it’s best to refrigerate it to prevent the cream from spoiling. Cakes that are not refrigerated and have a cream-based filling or frosting can spoil quickly and become unsafe to eat.
However, a cake without cream-based filling or frosting can be stored at room temperature for up to three days. After three days, the cake should be refrigerated or frozen to extend its shelf life.
Effect on Cake's Texture
Refrigerating cake can have an effect on its texture. Cakes stored in the refrigerator can become dry and lose their flavor. That is because the cold temperature in the refrigerator can cause the cake to dry out. Additionally, the frosting on the cake can become stiff and difficult to cut.
On the other hand, cakes that are stored at room temperature can retain their moisture and flavor. They retain their taste because the room temperature allows the cake to breathe and retain moisture.
Understanding Cake Composition with Regard to Storage
When it comes to storing cake, understanding its composition is essential. Different types of cakes have different ingredients and, therefore, require different storage methods. Here are some key factors to consider:
The Influence of Frosting
Frosting is a key component of many cakes. It can be made from buttercream, cream cheese, or other ingredients.
Cakes with more frosting tend to be moist and denser, which can impact how well they keep at room temperature. If you have a frosted cake, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
Impact of Fillings
Cake fillings can be made from fresh fruit, jam, or other ingredients. Fresh fruit fillings can add moisture to the cake, which can impact its shelf life. If you have a cake with a fresh fruit filling, storing it in the refrigerator may be best to keep it fresh.
Role of Layers
Layer cakes can be made with different types of cake layers, including oil-based cakes, sponge cakes, and sheet cakes.
Each type of cake layer has a different texture and moisture content, which can impact how well it keeps at room temperature. If you have a layer cake, consider storing it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
Guidelines for Storing Cake
When storing cake, follow a few guidelines to keep it fresh and delicious. Whether you’re storing leftover cake or want to keep a freshly baked one for later, you can use a few methods to ensure your cake stays moist and flavorful.
Using Plastic Wrap
One of the easiest ways to store cake is using plastic wrap. This method is ideal for storing leftover cake or keeping a freshly baked cake for later.
To use plastic wrap, simply wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap, making sure to cover the entire cake surface. Wrapped cakes help prevent air from getting in and drying out the cake, especially if it has sliced edges.
If you want to store cut cake, you can wrap each individual slice in plastic wrap so that each piece stays fresh and doesn’t dry out. If you leave your cake uncovered, it will lose moisture, dry out, and even lose its texture and taste.
Utilizing Aluminum Foil
Another method for storing cake is by using aluminum foil. This method is similar to using plastic wrap, but it provides an extra layer of protection against air and moisture. This protective barrier will help keep the cake fresh and prevent it from drying out.
Opting for Airtight Containers
If you want to store cake for a longer period, consider using an airtight container. This method is ideal for storing freshly baked cake that you want to keep for several days.
When storing cake in an airtight container, ensure the container is completely dry before placing the cake inside, and keep the lid tightly sealed.
The Freezing Option
If you have extra cake that you won't be able to eat soon, freezing it is an excellent option to preserve it for longer periods. However, not all cakes freeze well, and there are some things you need to keep in mind before you freeze cake.
Preparation for Freezing
Before freezing your cake, ensure it has cooled completely. Wrap each cake layer with plastic wrap, ensuring it is tightly sealed to prevent air from getting in. Then, wrap the cake in aluminum foil or place it in an airtight container to protect it from freezer burn.
If you have fully frosted cakes, place them in the freezer for an hour to set the decoration. Once the frosting is frozen and firm, wrap the cake in two layers of plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil.
Certain frostings, like whipped cream frosting and meringue-based frostings, won't freeze well, so avoiding freezing cakes with these types of frosting is best. Buttercream frosting and cream cheese frosting, however, both freeze well.
When you're ready to eat your frozen cake, remove it from the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge overnight. Defrosting the cake in the fridge prevents condensation from forming on the cake, which can ruin the texture and taste.
- Cakes that contain perishable ingredients should always be refrigerated.
- If your cake has no perishable ingredients, it can be stored at room temp.
- Be sure to cover your cake with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container.
- Proper storage will prevent it from drying out or absorbing unwanted fridge smells.
- If you need to store your cake for an extended period of time, consider freezing it.
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore