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How Far In Advance Can You Make A Cake (So it Stays Fresh)

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If you are making a cake and will not have time to bake it on the day it is needed, you do have options. But, just how far in advance can you make one?

You can make a cake up to 3 months in advance if you wrap it tightly and freeze it. For fridge storage, bake it up to 2 days in advance and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. For best results, make the cake batter 2 days in advance, refrigerate it in a covered container, and bake it the day it is needed.

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss each of these options in detail.

1. Making a Cake up to 3 Months in Advance

The best way to make a cake way ahead of time is to store it in the freezer. A plain unfrosted cake can be wrapped tightly and frozen until needed for up to 3 months.

The cake should be wrapped tightly before freezing and thawed completely in the refrigerator before frosting. Allow sufficient time for this process because it could take at least 2 days to thaw in the refrigerator and then a couple of hours when taken out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature before frosting. The frosting should be added as close to when needed as possible.

2. Making a Cake up to 2 Days in Advance

If you are making a cake for a certain event and will not have time to make it on the day of the event, bake the cake up to 2 days in advance, allow it to cool completely at room temperature, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator. Here we are talking about plain cakes.

Cakes made in advance should not be frosted when made. It is better to frost them on the day of the event, if possible. If there will not be time even to frost the cake on the day that you need it, try to frost it the night before and store it in an airtight container such as a cake cover like this one, and store it in a cool area not subject to drastic temperature changes. It will taste fresher than if you store it in the refrigerator after frosting.

Cakes such as carrot or pineapple upside-down cake contain perishable ingredients and it is best to keep them refrigerated. But, even this type of cake will stay good at least overnight if they are well covered and not subject to extreme temperatures.

3. Storing Cake Batter 2 Days in Advance (The Best Method)

When making a cake, the most time-consuming part of the process is making up the batter. So, a good way to have a fresh cake on the day of the event without having to do all the work is just to mix up your batter within the two days prior to when needed, and all you have to do is just give it a stir, pour it into your cake pans, and bake it. Of course, you still have to allow time for the cake to cool completely and add the frosting.

If you do plan to make the cake batter prior to the day you need the cake, be sure to pour it into a covered container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. It would probably still be good after being frozen for longer than 3 months, but for the optimum taste and texture, it should be used within 3 months.

To thaw frozen cake batter, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for at least 2 days before baking.

For more information on this topic, take a look at my article entitled “How to Store Cake Batter For Later Use.”

How Do You Bake Cold or Frozen Cake Batter?

Refrigerated

  1. To bake a cake from batter that has been stored in the refrigerator, let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking.
  2. When the cake batter has come to room temperature, stir or whisk well.
  3. Pour batter into a baking pan and bake as directed.

Frozen

  1. To bake a cake from batter that has been frozen, allow the batter to thaw in the refrigerator for at least 2 days.
  2. Let the thawed batter sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking.
  3. When the cake batter has come to room temperature, stir or whisk well.
  4. Pour batter into a baking pan and bake as directed.

How Long Will a Cake Stay Fresh?

Most cakes will stay fresh for at least 2 days if stored in an airtight container either in the refrigerator or even unrefrigerated if it is kept in a room not subject to high temperatures. Most cakes will still be good for at least 4-5 days at room temperature, but for them to taste fresh and moist, probably 2 days at the most.

Jelly-Grandmas-Famous-Mocha-Chocolate-Cake
My “famous” mocha chocolate cake

How Far in Advance Can I Make a Cake Covered in Fondant?

When cake is frosted with buttercream and fondant, it can last up to 4 or 5 days at room temperature. When stored this way, a cake cover or an overturned bowl can be used to protect it from dust and other airborne contaminants.

Store the cake in the refrigerator if the weather is hot. If you want to freeze it, wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container, like this one on Amazon, before storing it in the freezer.

But, for the best and freshest tasting cake, I recommend making the cake 2 days in advance, wrapping it tightly, and storing it in the refrigerator. Then, either the night before or the morning of the event for which the cake is needed, take the cake out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, and add the frosting. 

How Far in Advance Can I Make Cake Frosting?

If your frosting is going to be buttercream or fondant, you can make the frosting at least 2 or 3 days in advance, put it into a covered container, and refrigerate it. Then, take it out of the refrigerator at least an hour before time to frost the cake to allow it to come to room temperature. 

Add milk to the room temperature frosting a tablespoon or two at the time until the frosting is at the right consistency to spread on the cake. This cake will look and taste as though you had just made it.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting in a Bowl With a Spoon
My homemade buttercream frosting

How Do You Store Pre-made Cakes?

Premade cakes that have been frosted and are ready to eat are more difficult to store than cakes that have not been frosted. The shelf life of pre-made cake depends on the kind of cake, what kind of frosting it has, and how it is stored.

Generally, a cake can last for up to 4 to 5 days at room temperature if stored in a good cake cover or other airtight container. The length of time depends on the temperature of the room it is stored in and how often and how long it is left uncovered while being served.

Most cakes can last from 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator as long as they are stored in an airtight container that doesn’t allow contamination by other foods stored in the refrigerator and, again, how long it is left uncovered while being served.

Frozen cake lasts up to 2 to 3 months in the freezer, but being frozen can affect the texture of some frostings and icings.

How to Keep a Cake Moist Overnight?

The best way to keep a cake moist overnight is to either wrap it tightly in foil or plastic wrap or to put it into a good airtight cake cover and leave it in the coolest area in the house. In some cases refrigerating a cake can have a drying effect and leaving it unrefrigerated with a good cover is the best option.

How Long Can a Cake Sit Out Unrefrigerated?

The shelf life of cake depends on a number of things including the ingredients and the type of frosting or filling it has. A cake made from a cake mix contains preservatives and will last longer than a cake made from scratch. A cake made from scratch that has been made with fresh butter, eggs, and milk and contains no preservatives should be refrigerated and not left out at room temperature.

A cake that has buttercream or fondant frosting can be left at room temperature for at least 4 or 5 days, while a cake that has whipped topping or that has a filling will need to be refrigerated right away.

But, whether a cake can be left at room temperature for 4 or 5 days or whether it must be refrigerated right away, it should be kept in a good airtight container or be wrapped in foil or plastic wrap to keep it as fresh as possible for as long as possible and so that it will not be contaminated in any way by airborne contaminants or cross-contaminated with foods stored nearby in the refrigerator.

Does Store-Bought Cake Need to be Refrigerated?

Leftover Cakes

Most cakes that are bought and not made at home tend to last longer because they are made with preservatives, and a good rule of thumb as to how they should be stored once you take them home is that if you bought a cake refrigerated, then it should stay refrigerated. But, if you bought a cake that was displayed on a counter not under refrigeration, then it will probably be good at home stored under a good cake cover on the kitchen counter.

Final Thoughts

Even though we have all had those occasions when we are obligated to bring a cake even though we really won’t have the time to spare to bake one, the tips found in this article will allow you to have that homemade cake ready to take to the event as promised without staying up all night the night before to do it.

To summarize, there are several options as to how far in advance you can make a cake. (1) Make a cake up to 2 days in advance, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator. (2) Make a cake up to 3 months in advance, wrap it tightly, and freeze it until needed. (3) Make up cake batter 1 to 2 days in advance, store it in a covered container in the refrigerator, and bake it the day it is needed.

I hope you find a suggestion or two that will be helpful to you.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss How To Fix Undercooked Cake (That Is Too Moist).

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