Baking and decorating a layered cake often takes place over the course of a few days. It’s common to bake cake layers in advance and store them overnight before filling and frosting the cake. Proper storage is important to keep the cake layers fresh and moist until you’re ready to assemble and decorate the finished cake.
Why Store Cake Layers Overnight?
There are a few reasons why you may want to bake cake layers in advance and store them overnight before finishing the cake:
- Baking cakes can take a long time. Baking the layers in advance saves you time on the day you need the finished cake. This is especially helpful if you’re baking a cake for a special event or celebration.
- Cake layers often need time to cool completely before you fill and frost them. Storing the layers overnight gives them plenty of time to cool.
- The frosting or filling needs time to firm up and set after you fill and frost the cake. Keeping the cake layers overnight gives the filling time to set before serving.
- Decorating a cake can take a lot of time and effort. Storing the baked cake layers ahead of time means you can focus just on frosting and decorating when it’s time to finish the cake.
How to Store Cake Layers
Here are some tips for proper storage of cake layers overnight:
Let Layers Cool Completely
It’s important to let cake layers cool completely before wrapping and storing. The layers continue cooking a bit internally once removed from the oven. Cooling them allows the interior to fully set. Wrap layers only once they’ve cooled to room temperature.
Wrap Layers Tightly in Plastic Wrap
To retain moisture, each cake layer should be well wrapped in plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap adheres directly to the surface of the cake. Press it against the cake gently to remove any air pockets before sealing the wrap tightly. This prevents the layers from drying out.
Use Cake Boards Between Layers
Place cooled cake layers on cardboard cake rounds or directly on cake plates before wrapping. Slip pieces of parchment paper between stacked cake layers to keep them from sticking together. The parchment can be carefully removed before frosting.
Refrigerate or Freeze Layers
Wrapped cake layers can be refrigerated overnight, or they can be frozen for up to a month. Refrigeration keeps the cake fresh for up to 3 or 4 days. Freezing gives you the flexibility to bake cake layers well in advance of an event or celebration.
Allow Refrigerated Layers to Come to Room Temperature Before Frosting
If refrigerated, layers should sit at room temperature for about an hour before unwrapping to prevent condensation. Condensation can make the crumb soggy. Let refrigerated layers come completely to room temp before filling and frosting.
Thaw Frozen Layers Overnight in the Refrigerator
For frozen cake layers, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before decorating. This allows them to thaw gradually, preventing condensation. Leave the plastic wrap on during thawing. Let the layers come to room temperature before unwrapping and filling.
How Different Cake Varieties Store
Certain cake varieties hold up better than others when stored overnight. Here’s how some common cake types fare:
White cake layers made with butter store well wrapped overnight in the refrigerator. The sugar and butter keep layers moist. Allow to come to room temperature before decorating so the frosting doesn’t melt.
Chocolate cake layers can dry out a bit overnight. Wrapping layers in plastic wrap or even a thin layer of frosting helps lock in moisture. Ganache or chocolate frosting won’t melt on a chocolate cake.
Dense carrot cake holds moisture well when refrigerated overnight. The plastic wrap prevents the cream cheese frosting from absorbing into the cake.
Red Velvet Cake
Red velvet cake’s flavor can intensify a bit overnight. The tang of the buttermilk and vinegar becomes more pronounced. The layers remain moist wrapped in plastic.
Spice cake may dry out slightly overnight. For best results, brush simple syrup over the layers before wrapping to lock in extra moisture. The syrup soaks right in.
Angel Food Cake
Angel food cake is very delicate and prone to drying out. Enjoy freshly baked or wrap very tightly and freeze instead of refrigerating overnight.
Tips for Assembling and Frosting After Storing Layers
Follow these tips when you’re ready to fill, frost and decorate your cake using layers that were stored:
- Unwrap the layers and inspect for any cracks or damage before frosting.
- Brush a thin layer of simple syrup over each layer if they seem dry after unwrapping.
- Place layers on your serving plate or cake stand before filling and frosting.
- Spread a thin crumb coat of frosting first to seal in crumbs before the final coat.
- Make sure layers are level and aligned before stacking and frosting.
- Refrigerate the finished cake for about 30 minutes to help frosting set.
- Keep the frosted cake refrigerated until serving time for filled cakes.
Storing Filled Cake Layers
You can also fill cake layers with buttercream or another frosting before storing. Here are some tips:
- Only fill layers you plan to use within 2-3 days. Longer storage may compromise quality.
- Fill just the center of the layers. Don’t frost the sides until ready to decorate.
- Place parchment between filled layers so they don’t stick together.
- Wrap filled layers very tightly before refrigerating.
- Let come completely to room temperature before decorating.
Signs Your Stored Cake Layers Have Gone Bad
Check stored cake layers carefully before using. Signs they may be past their prime and unsafe to eat include:
- Mold growth
- Crumbly texture
- Off odors
When in doubt, don’t risk it. Discard layers that show any of these warning signs and start fresh. With proper storage, though, your cake layers can keep safely overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can baked cake layers be stored?
Properly wrapped cake layers will stay fresh for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. They can be frozen for up to one month.
Can you store cake layers at room temperature?
It’s best not to store cake layers at room temperature. Refrigeration or freezing is recommended to prevent drying and texture changes.
Should filled cake layers be refrigerated or frozen?
Filled cake layers should always be refrigerated, not frozen. The freezing process can compromise the texture and flavor of fillings like buttercream.
How do you thaw frozen cake layers?
The best way to thaw frozen cake layers is overnight in the refrigerator. This allows them to thaw gradually to prevent condensation and sogginess.
Can you freeze a frosted cake?
You can freeze an entire frosted cake, but the quality of the frosting may suffer. It’s best to freeze unfrosted cake layers and frost after thawing.
- Let cake layers cool completely before wrapping for storage.
- Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap, refrigerate overnight.
- Use parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking.
- Allow refrigerated layers to come to room temperature before decorating.
- Thaw frozen layers overnight in the refrigerator.
- Check for mold, shriveling, drying or off odors before using stored layers.
Storing cake layers properly is crucial for creating a beautiful and delicious layered cake. With some simple advance planning, you can bake cakes in stages and keep layers fresh until you’re ready to fill, frost and decorate. Be sure to wrap layers tightly, refrigerate or freeze, and allow them to fully thaw and warm before finishing the cake. Following these best practices will let you spread out the cake making and have stunning, tasty results.