I'm curious as to how far in advance of decorating a cake can you bake the cake and still have the cake taste reasonably good. And, how far in advance can the cake be decorated before the event?
I usually do it the night before because I'm a procrastinator! And I'm always rushing in the end! I think most people bake up to 2-3 days before and frost maybe 1-2 days ? Once you frost it, it should stay fresher and seal in the freshness.
I did a wedding cake 2 weeks ago for a Friday night. I baked them all on Wednesday and frosted and decorated them late Thursday night and delivered it on Friday morning. The bride told me it was delicious.
I always try to bake as close to the due date a possible, however, if you need to bake ahead of time, bake 3-4 days in advance, wrap and freeze for a short time. I don't see the harm in decorating the day before or two days before if the decorating detail is time consuming.
It depends on whether you are making a box or scratch cake. Box cakes have chemicals that help preserve their freshness. A box cake can be tasty for up to a week after baking. I would not leave a scratch cake for more than 3-4 days. Frosting a cake or wrapping it in fondant will seal in some of the freshness. I try to bake (or un-freeze) 1-2 days before delivery so people get as fresh a product as possible-- you never know if your customer will have leftovers and how long they will keep them around!
Many people have different schedules for dealing with this. No particular way is the only right way. Do whatever works for you.
I bake the day before, and ice/decorate the cake within 24 hours. I never refrigerate or freeze my cakes. My clients pick up the cakes within a few hours of when I finish.
I use doctored mixes. If a cake is due on Saturday, I bake Thursday and freeze, then decorate on Friday. If I know I have something else to do on Thursday, I will bake Wednesday.
My normal schedule is bake/ice/decorate on Thurs for a Sat wedding. howver, I have baked/iced/decorated as early as Tuesday .... and rec'd comments from wedding guests on how it "....was the best tasting cake" they'd ever had!
I try to time it so the cake purposely sits for at least a few hours after I stack and crumb coat so that it settles.
I also want it to sit for at least a few hours (if not overnight) prior to delivery, just so I know everything is set and secured.