Freezing Cake Layers

As many of you may already know  I am in the habit of freezing cake layers.

So many questions arise once folks realize this is what I am doing, so I will answer all of them here.

 

  1. Why do you freeze the layers? Frozen layers are much easier to work with. You will also experience less crumbs in the final icing. There is a lesser chance of breaking the layers as you build. You can also prep your work days in advance by baking the cake layers ahead of time.
  2. Just how frozen does the cake need to be? The more frozen your freezer freezes things, the better. Some freezers don’t work as well as others, not to mention if you are in and out of it often, the freezer itself will never stay as frozen as it should, causing defrosting and frosting of the items inside; which is why you will sometimes have ice crystals formed inside your wrapped frozen item.
  3. How long can I freeze the cake? I try not to do it for more than a week, however I do list on my recipes that most cakes can be frozen for up to 2 months, however as I addressed in the video this is not an ideal practice. It is more a guideline for leftover cake layers in an over-production situation.
  4. Do I have to freeze the cake? No of course not.
  5. Does it compromise taste or texture on comparison to a freshly baked cake? In my opinion, No. However taste is a very personal experience so I will leave this up to you to decide. I mentioned in the video below that I do not practice freezing cakes at length (more than a week for special orders and projects) and anything longer than 3 weeks would definitely compromise taste, texture, yes.
  6. If I am torting the cake, do I do it before freezing or after? I have done it both ways, but I find that slicing cakes AFTER freezing and just upon building the layer cake is best.  Thaw it slightly before slicing though so you don’t slice through your hand! By slicing cakes before freezing, you are creating more surface area that would be exposed to the elements.
  7. Do I thaw the cake layers before assembling? No, cake layers thaw out very quickly and in order to reap the benefit of  freezing them in the first place, you want to work with them while they are still semi frozen.
  8. When do I add the simple syrup? Always upon building the cake, never before freezing. You don;t want to create ice crystals inside the cake which will then make the cake soggy upon thawing.

Check out this video that I made specifically for my Best Baker Club Members!

And many of these questions are answered for you there!

Here is the newest video where you get to skip ahead for the BONUS Best Baker Tip #11 How to Freeze Cupcakes!!

 

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69 Comments

  1. Thanks Gretchen…..I so agree with everything you said! Why would you not freeze, it makes life so much easier.
    Also, I almost think the texture is better in some ways…..my cakes are always moist after freezing!

  2. Hi Gretchen,

    Thanks for saving me from going to culinary school! I work in a bakery in SC and read all of your blogs. In our bakery we have recently had a few issues with syruping cakes. We syrup the cakes with hot syrup right after they are cooled. But we have noticed that they are sometimes soggy out of the freezer (you explained that), but sometimes they are too crumbley after freezing. Any ideas on that last issue? My boss tells us it is because we don’t have the syrup or the cakes warm enough. That doesn’t make sense(I have a degree in chemistry so I know some baking science:)) Is it due to over syruping?

    Also, if you syrup after freezing won’t you need to wait until the cake is semi thawed or poke a lot of holes in it?

    Thanks for all you do!

    1. Hi Great! Im glad you are getting some benefit here! I would never freeze before freezing, as I explained.
      I always take my cake out of the freezer first then gather all my other things, by the time I am actually assembling the cakes it has been about 10-15min and the cake is in perfect shape to syrup and still frozen enough to build

  3. Hi Gretchen,
    Thanks for sharing your tips. I want to ask you, when I am baking my cake it makes a big dome. Is there any tip to reduce the dome bec when u r cutting a cake u wast a lot because ofof some . Thanks waiting for reply
    Abida

  4. I’ve been freezing cakes for years and they are delicious. I bake, cool and then line a clean cake pan with wax paper . Cover tightly with Saran wrap and put in freezer bag. I’ve kept cakes for months and they tast great. By storing the frozen cake in the cake pan it protects in from getting dented in the freezer. Happy freezing.

  5. Hey Gretchen,
    Thank you so much for being a great part of our easy access go to world of pastry arts. I am attending an online pastry arts coarse at Escoffier, and you actually play a great part in my education. Thank you again.

  6. Thank you Gretchen for all the time you put in here. I will pay for every recipe that you put in here because you deserve it, it’s the decent thing to do. My opinion. Question: what are the names of the books you have behind you in your kitchen? ¡Gracias!

    1. Hi Thanks!! Mostly they are science of baking books like On Food & Cooking, What Einstein Told his Cook, The Cake Bible, Im just here for the food (Alton Brown) to name a few

  7. Thanks Gretchen for all your tips!

    I see there was a comment about syruping a cake. I’m not familiar with that so can you explain what that means?

  8. Thanks Gretchen for all of your wonderful tips I’m am taking this all in and it’s making my cake business a lot easier . We love your enthusiasm keep up the good work 🙂

  9. Thanks Gretchen. I do remember this advice and freeze mine also. The one thing I really loved around Christmas was the cookie dough, which was great for, not only cookies, but crusts for fruit pies, etc. You are the greatest and again, thanks for sharing!

  10. Great tips! Thank-you Gretchen! I will also look up your tips for working with cream cheese frosting here in Hawaii. I have a lot of difficulty with the cream cheese frosting getting very soft and droopy. Maybe you have some extra advice for working with cream cheese frosting in warm weather? A good recipe? Thanks!

    1. Kathy I had the same problem in FL. Try it this way, it made all the difference for me. Wrap your cream cheese bars in paper towel as they soften. This will absorb the excess water. (Don’t use any light or fat free cream cheese). After your butter is softened mix it with your powdered sugar & vanilla (if using) until smooth (mix as long as you need), then add chunks of cream cheese until blended (mix as little as necessary maybe 2-3 mins). It worked for me, hope it works for you too. My recipe is: 2 bars of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, 1/2 tsp (optional) pure vanilla extract, 2 cups of powdered sugar. Just remember too much moisture & over mixing will soften the icing.

    2. Hi , in one of Gretchen’s earlier blogs during her woodland bakery days she had mentioned to use cold cream cheese at the end after all the mixing is done. I am from Mumbai India and it is very hot and humid here. So i use this tip of hers and it works perfectly, so good that you can frost cupcakes etc and they hold its shape into beautiful swirls etc.

  11. I freeze my cupcakes in the metal cupcake pans. I find that they freeze quicker with the metal pan all around the cupcake. I then, when very frozen, put them into the large ziplock freezer bags with date and flavor written on the bag. When I want to frost them, I remove them from the bag BEFORE thawing otherwise the tops stick to the inside of the bag when you thaw them inside.

  12. Hi Gretchen,

    I am a big fan of your work and I love your helpful tips. Can you recommend a frosting that uses less sugar and can maintain its shape in warm weather (I live in the Caribbean).

    Thanks.

  13. Hi Gretchen in freezing cakes, do you refer to all cakes like sponge/chiffon as well (not just butter cakes)?

    1. I will be making a cake soon that has ground walnuts and whipped heavy cream in the recipe. You said you haven’t met a cake yet that can’t be frozen. What do you think about freezing a cake with these ingredients?

      1. Hmm, Im assuming the heavy cream whipped is the filling of the cake? AS in a completely assembled cake? Since you can’t really add whipped cream to a batter and bake it. If yes- I do freeze mousse cakes and such and have had no trouble with that either. Alot of people ask me if I in fact DO freeze mousse recipes, and my answer is always yes but only IN CAKES, like finished assembled cake- so if that is what you are doing, sure thing no problemo

    2. Thanks Gretchen for such a quick reply. In the cake I am making, one of the ingredients is whipped cream. After you whip it up, you mix the dry ingredients with ground walnuts, then you mix eggs and sugar together. After those three separate actions are taken you then alternate folding in the dry and the whipped cream starting and ending with the dry. It is quite a process but it is a really tasty cake. So…what do you think. Can I freeze it? Thanks again!

  14. Hi Gretchen,

    Million thanks for sharing this video, it helps a lot, really…
    Keep up the good work and i wish you all the best for your business

    love from Jakarta, Indonesia :]

  15. Thanks so much for setting my mind at ease! I’ve been decorating cakes as a hobby for about 25 years and I absolutely freeze my cakes ahead of time. I’ve only made two wedding cakes and both brides mentioned that their top tier that they saved for their first anniversary tasted like it was just made on their wedding day. Thanks for your video tips! They are very helpful!

  16. Hi gretchen!
    Thanks for all your tips! My question is do i unwrap the cake as soon as i take it out tge freezer and allow to defrost or do i leave it wrapped in the saran wrap until its defrosted/i’m ready to use? I have tried both ways but the surface of the cakes becomes sticky and i have to cut a thin layer off. What am i doing wrong?
    Also so i cool cakes to room temp then wrap and freeze or cool to refridgerator temp then wrap and freeze?
    It would be so helpful if i could get this problem sorted. Please help!
    Thank you!

    1. I always unwrap before thawing to avoid that sticky condensation from forming. I cool at room temp then wrap and freeze

  17. Hi Gretchen.

    Thanks again for showing me this. this is really helpful.
    How to see other best baker tips? is there any sort of links?

  18. Gretchen, it’s so funny that you posted this topic today, because I am in a quandary about freezing a cake, already decorated with buttercream. My nephew’s birthday is coming up next weekend and a peanut/tree-nut cake is needed for the event. I usually make all the cakes for him and his sister, but will be away for a teen church event and returning the day of his party, which means I won’t be able to make a fresh cake for him. I plan to make and decorate the cake 3 days before the event and freeze it. My question for you is: Is there a particular buttercream recipe that will hold up well for freezing and thawing, or will most buttercreams work out well? I have no choice but to frost and decorate ahead of time, and want the end result to be as good as possible. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! You are such an amazing resource!

    1. really? hmmm that doesnt happen to me, be sure to cool them completely OUT of the pans before you freeze them it could be moisture getting trapped between the cake and the wrapper if you try to freeze too fast

  19. Hi Gretchen, Thank you for all your emails.They have really been helpful. Recently I noticed that the top of my cakes are usually moist and sticky after it cools for a while. I also noticed that the sides of my cakes slant/bend inwards maybe because of the parchment paper I use as a result of this, I have to use the icing to make it straight to the top.
    How can I prevent these from happening?

    Thank you.

    1. HI Thanks & you are welcome too! I do not use parchment liner on the sides of my pans, so Im not sure if that is the cause- try it without and see if it helps.
      the stickiness can be due to humidity in your kitchen in the summer

      1. Hi Gretchen – perhaps this question is a little off the wall. If i want to send my cakes, especially cheesecakes, by courier/mail, how can i protect them – especially if they are heavily decorated? I note than many online suppliers freeze them, use heavy plastic boxes and dry ice. However, i am not a business and the cost of these appear extraordinary. Also having already frozen the cakes this precludes the consumer from refreezing. Do you have expereince of this. A second question is about pies – i note your dislike of springform and loose bottem cake pans. Does this dislike extend to pie tins or do you use loose bases for these?

        1. Hi I am sorry I am no help when it comes to shipping cakes, I have never been brave enough to do it.
          I use regular pie plates for pie. Tart shells with removeable bottoms too

  20. Gretch
    I never miss anything you publish. Thanks for great laughs and great tips and beautiful delicious (aww they fatten up) cakes!!! I saw other day that when a country starts suffering there are two things that make them happy: BEER and CAKE – the beer they can keep. :))))

  21. Hi Gretchen!! I’ve frozen cakes for an upcoming party and I need to cover them in fondant. Once they’ve thawed out, which will be when I’m done frosting them will it affect the fondant in anyway? I’ll remove them from the freezer and take off the plastic wrap and let them thaw a little before I slice and fill. I’m assuming once they’re thawed they’re just like a normal fresh baked cake right? Thanks so much! So glad to see you can align your channel with your lifestyle!

    1. Hi I dont really freeze whole cake, I freeze cake LAYERS ( as you see here in this post) or I freeze leftovers, but never a whole cake with intentions to take it out for an event, it will NEVER look as good as when it was fresh made.
      Good luck, Im sorry Im not better help, I just dont do that

  22. Hi sorry I should have been more clear. I’ve baked and froze two eight inch rounds and two six inch rounds, all of which were baked in separate tins. I planned on cutting them in half and stacking, 4 layers of 8 inch and 4 layers of 6 inch. I’m pretty sure that’s how you have them too. They’re just plain vanilla with no icing or filling. Recipe halved into two tins, baked, cooled and frozen. I should be good to go right? Thank you!!

  23. Hi Gretchen

    What is the best freezer to purchase for freezing cakes and cupcakes and buttercream. The chest type or the upright freezer? Is manual de-frosting or frost free freezer the better choice?

    Thanks!

    1. I do not like chest freezers at all. But you will have to research some freezers, as I am only familiar with commercial equipment, home appliances, not so much

    1. This was always a problem for me in the bakery when it went from extreme temperature cold to hot humid New Jersey summers. The best thing to do is keep the fridge set at a higher temp (if possible) and working in an temperature controlled room, otherwise you will be paper toweling off the condensation as I did …many times 🙁

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