Keeping an unfrosted cake moist overnight can be a challenge, but with some simple tips and tricks, you can have a perfectly moist cake ready to frost and serve the next day. Here are some of the most effective ways to keep your unfrosted cake fresh and delicious until you’re ready to finish decorating it.
Use a cake cover or plastic wrap
One of the easiest ways to lock in moisture is to cover the cake tightly. Use a cake dome, an overturned bowl, or plastic wrap pressed directly against the surface of the cake. This will prevent the outer edges and top from drying out. Make sure the cover is airtight so no moisture can escape.
Store at room temperature
Store the cake at room temperature, between 68-72°F. Refrigeration will cause the starches in the cake to recrystallize and dry it out. If it’s a warm summer day, you can refrigerate the cake for a short time to make it firmer and easier to frost, but be sure to let it come completely back to room temperature before decorating so the icing doesn’t melt or slide off.
Use a soak
A flavored soak is an easy way to add moisture back into a cake if it starts to dry out a bit overnight. Make a simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and water or other liquid like fruit juice, coffee, or liquor. Bring it just to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Allow to cool completely before brushing it gently over the top and sides of the cake. The cake will absorb the liquid and become moist again.
Brush with simple syrup
Similarly, you can brush the cake with a simple syrup while it’s fresh to help lock in that initial moisture. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water or juice heated until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool then gently brush over the cake’s top and sides. Let the syrup soak in for an hour or so before covering the cake overnight.
Wrap in plastic, then foil
For extra protection, you can wrap the cake in plastic wrap first, smoothing it against the surface, then overwrap it in aluminum foil. The plastic will prevent any moisture loss while the foil adds a protective barrier against fridge odors or anything else that might affect the cake.
Store bottom-side up
If your cake layer Baked with a flat bottom and domed top, store it upside down so the domed top is flat against the plate. This helps prevent cracking or breaking overnight. Just flip it over again before frosting.
Reinforce with toothpicks
If you’re concerned about the cake layer sagging or breaking apart as it sits, insert toothpicks vertically around the circumference of the cake to provide extra stability. You can remove the toothpicks easily before frosting. This works well for soft cakes and fragile cake layers.
For maximum protection, double wrap the cake. First wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, smoothing it against the surface. Then wrap again in aluminum foil. The plastic prevents moisture loss while the foil creates a barrier against odors or air leaks.
If you need to prep the cake further ahead of time, a better option than room temperature storage is to freeze it. Wrap it tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap, smoothing out any air bubbles, then overwrap in foil. The cake can stay frozen for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before decorating.
Use milk instead of water
Substitute milk for the water called for in the cake recipe. Milk enriches the cake with fat and protein for a more tender, moist texture. Whole milk works best. You can use dairy or non-dairy milk. The cake will have a richer flavor and stay fresher overnight.
Add an extra egg yolk
Incorporate an extra egg yolk into the batter for a more tender, moist crumb. The extra fat content prevents the cake from drying out. If the recipe calls for whole eggs, use an extra yolk. If it only uses yolks already, add one more.
Swap oil for butter
Use oil instead of solid butter or shortening. Vegetable, canola, or other neutral oil keeps cakes incredibly moist because it never solidifies. The oil coats the cake proteins preventing moisture loss. Substitute oil 1:1 for butter or shortening.
Brush with liquor
For a boozy twist, brush liquor over the cake after baking. Spirits like rum, brandy, whiskey, or amaretto add moisture and infuse the cake with flavor. Brush on enough to moisten the top but not soak through. Let it absorb before covering the cake.
Use cake flour
Swap all-purpose flour for cake flour. With a lower protein content than all-purpose, cake flour creates a softer, more tender crumb. The delicate texture holds onto moisture better. Replace each cup of all-purpose with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour.
Bake the cake just until when you insert a toothpick, it comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging. Slightly under-baking keeps it extra moist. Check early and err on the side of softer. The carryover heat will continue baking it as it cools.
Add moisture to the frosting
Incorporate some moisture into the frosting you’ll use to prevent it from absorbing liquid from the cake. Cream cheese, buttercream, or ganache will all stay creamy with a tablespoon or two of milk or cream added. The frosting locks in the cake’s moisture.
Brush with flavored syrup
For a double whammy of moisture and flavor, brush the cake with a flavored simple syrup. Infuse it with coffee, citrus, spices, herbs, liqueur, or fruit purees. Brush over the cake while still warm so it can deeply soak in before covering.
Allow it to cool completely
Let the cake cool completely before wrapping or storing. Any residual heat will create condensation leading to soggy spots. Cooling it thoroughly prevents this moisture loss. Waiting also allows the interior crumb to firm up for easier handling.
Use a Seran wrap
Covering the cake in a seran wrap or plastic wrap is a great way to lock in moisture. Press the plastic directly against the surface of the cake. Ensure there are no air gaps where moisture can escape. Leave on until ready to frost.
Pick a moist cake recipe
Start with a tried and true moist cake recipe that you know holds up well over time. Red velvet, carrot, banana, pineapple upside down, and oil-based cakes are all very moist options. Dense, moist cakes retain freshness best.
Let layers cool completely
If baking a layered cake, allow each layer to cool completely before stacking and storing. Any residual warmth creates condensation that can lead to soggy cake. Cooling thoroughly helps lock structure.
Reinforce with supports
Insert thick wooden skewers, dowels, chopsticks, or bubble tea straws vertically around the cake to reinforce fragile layers like cheesecake. Remove before serving. Supports prevent cracking and slipping.
Freeze the cake
For maximum freshness, fully freeze the cake layers after baking. Wrap airtight with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before decorating. Freezing locks in moisture.
Invert while cooling
After baking, immediately invert the cake onto a wire rack so the flat bottom becomes the top. Allow it to cool completely upside down. This prevents a domed top from sagging overnight. Reinforce with toothpicks if needed.
Double up on flavor
Boost the flavor of the cake with extracts, oils, or liqueurs to disguise any drying. Almond, vanilla, lemon, peppermint, and coconut work well. Use spirits like brandy, rum, or amaretto for moisture and taste.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap
Directly covering with plastic wrap or a plastic bag provides an airtight seal to retain moisture. Press the wrap against the surface to minimize air pockets. Leave on until ready to finish decorating the cake.
Brush syrup around edges
Even if the center seems moist, the outer edges and sides can dry out. Brush simple syrup only around the exterior of the cake to revive any dry spots before covering for storage. Target areas prone to drying.
Add moisture to the batter
Stir in an extra tablespoon or two of milk, cream, or sour cream into the cake batter before baking. Small amounts of added liquid keep the crumb tender and prevent drying without altering the texture.
Use browned butter
For richer flavor and moisture, swap out melted butter for browned butter, cooked until it turns a light nutty brown. Browning the milk solids adds a tasty depth that disguises dryness. Use browned butter in place of melted butter.
Macerate fruit filling
If using a fruit filling between layers, macerate the fruit first by tossing with sugar and allowing it to sit. This draws out natural juices for a moist filling. Drain any excess liquid before using.
Enhance boxed mixes
Doctoring box cake mixes with pudding, sour cream, milk, or fruit purees boosts their moisture content. Prepare the mix as directed then stir in your extra ingredients by hand just until blended.
Check for doneness early
Under-baking slightly leaves the center with a tender, moist crumb. Use the timing as a guide but start checking earlier. A toothpick should come out with just a few crumbs. The edges will look set.
Allow to rest before cutting
Let the finished cake rest at room temperature for about an hour before slicing and storing. This allows the crumb to firm up so moistness stays locked in with fewer cracks. Cutting too soon releases moisture.
Use cake strips or insulation
Wrap tinfoil or damp paper towels around the pan before baking to insulate sides. This prevents the edges from over-baking and drying out. The extra moisture levels out the entire cake.
Brush with moist ingredients
Coat the cake with moist ingredients before serving to revive it if needed. Simple syrup, fruit glazes, jam, lemon curd, chocolate ganache, soak it in liqueur overnight, drizzle with caramel, sprinkle with citrus sugar, or use fruit preserves.
Be very gentle when handling the cake, transferring layers, and stacking to prevent breaking, crumbling, and cracking that can lead to moisture loss. Use a wide spatula for support.
Use a cardboard round
For tiered cakes, slide each layer onto a cardboard round the same size as the cake to provide stability when stacking or transporting. Prevent shifting, slipping, and damage.
Avoid direct heat
Don’t store the cake anywhere very hot or cold. Direct heat from appliances or the sun causes moisture loss. Keep it at a moderate room temp between baking and decorating.
Pick a dense cake
Hearty, dense cakes with little rise like pound cake, fruitcake, or cheesecake have a tight crumb that locks in moisture. Avoid airy genoise or chiffon cakes that tend to dry out faster.
Use a moist crumb coating
Covering the cake in a thin crumb coat of buttercream or cream cheese frosting seals in moisture and provides a good base for decorating. The icing locks in freshness.
Trim off crisp edges
If the outer edges seem dry, use a serrated knife to trim them off before stacking and frosting so they don’t detract from the moisture of the rest. Remove just the very outer edge.
Use juicy fruit compotes, chutneys, or stewed fruits between layers and in the frosting. The excess moisture will infuse right into the cake. Spoon over the top too.
Brush interior with simple syrup
For a layered cake, brush the interior layers with simple syrup before frosting and stacking. Use a pastry brush to soak the crumb. Syrup adds crucial moisture between layers.
Chill before decorating
Refrigerate the cake for 20-30 minutes before decorating to firm up the crumb. The chilling makes it more stable to work with and less likely to shed moist crumbs during frosting.
Allow frosting to set
Before covering, refrigerate or set aside the frosted cake to allow the icing to firm up slightly. This helps seal in moisture. If it’s too soft, warmth transfers through to the cake layers.
Avoid moving or jostling
Prevent the cake from moving around during transport to avoid shifting of layers and damage. Place on a sturdy board or plate and secure the platter for travel if needed.
Ready to Frost
With the right storage techniques, keeping an unfrosted cake moist until decorating day is certainly possible. Just be sure to start with a naturally moist recipe, refrigerate or freeze it, wrap airtight, use simple syrups or spirits for extra moisture, and handle gently. Follow these tips and that cake will be perfect for frosting and serving even after an overnight rest.