How to Store Any Type of Cake to Keep It Fresh

Frosted or unfrosted, cut or uncut — that cake you baked needs some care. Here’s everything you need to know about storing cake on the counter, in the fridge, and even in the freezer.

<p>ASIFE / Getty Images</p>

ASIFE / Getty Images

Was it even a party without cake? Of course, every night must end, and if you’re lucky you will have leftover cake. Read on for advice on how to store any kind of cake, whether it’s leftovers or a beautiful layer cake you’ve made in advance of a big event and want to keep at its best.

Does cake need to be refrigerated?

Most cakes, including those made with buttercream frosting or ganache, don’t need to be refrigerated — in fact, they’ll actually become stale more quickly in the fridge, since the colder temperature causes the starch molecules to crystallize. There are a few exceptions, however. Cheesecake should be refrigerated, as should any cakes that are frosted with a whipped cream or cheese-based frosting (like cream cheese or mascarpone), or filled with perishable ingredients like fresh fruit. You’ll also want to refrigerate cake if your kitchen is particularly warm or if you’re not planning on serving it for a few days.

How long does cake last on the counter?

Whether frosted or unfrosted, cake can be stored at room temperature for about four to five days. After baking, you’ll want to allow the cake or cake layers to cool completely before frosting or storing. Frosting is a great natural protective barrier, so you can simply cover a frosted cake with a cake dome or a large overturned bowl. Once you’ve cut into the cake, the exposed cake will start to get stale — if you have extra frosting on hand, you can frost this part, or you can press a piece of plastic wrap against the exposed side, ensuring it sticks, before covering the cake. Once you’ve cut into it, cake will last for about three to four days at room temperature.

Related: The 12 Best Cake Stands to Elevate Your Baked Confections

How long does cake last in the fridge?

If you are refrigerating a frosted cake, chill it uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes to harden the frosting a touch, then cover it loosely in plastic wrap to prevent it from absorbing any fridge odors. (You can use toothpicks to keep the plastic wrap from touching the frosting.) Once you’ve cut into it, you’ll want to make sure to cover the exposed part tightly with a separate piece of plastic wrap to retain moisture. Frosted cake will last for about four to five days in the fridge. Cheesecake lasts in the fridge for about three to four days — wrap tightly in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.

How to store a frosted cake in the freezer

That wedding cake you saved for your first anniversary? Fair warning: Enjoy the moment, but it’s not going to taste very good. Frosted cakes can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. Let the frosting harden in the fridge first for 15 to 20 minutes, then wrap them in two layers of plastic wrap and an additional layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. You can enjoy frozen cake directly from the freezer, or defrost by thawing overnight in the fridge or on the counter for about eight hours. Cheesecakes should always be defrosted in the fridge.

How to store cake layers

Making cake layers ahead of time is a great way to cut down on prep time for layer cakes. Make sure they’re completely cooled, then store them tightly in plastic wrap or in ziplock bags and keep at room temperature for up to five days. You can also store them in the freezer, tightly covered in plastic wrap or in ziplock bags, for up to three months. Transfer the cake layers to the refrigerator the night before you plan on decorating your cake.

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