This is a two part question:
1) What are the pros and cons to freezing a cake?
2) What is the best way to ship a cake?
Here's my situation:
A good friend of mine is getting married in November and has asked me to do her cakes..........yes that's plural.......she wants a small two-tiered cake at each table, along with a three-tiered regular wedding cake. The glitch is that she lives on the other side of the country!
I could work this one of two ways, but I'm not sure which is best. Should I travel prior to the wedding and bake/freeze on site? This would mean having to rely on other people's equipment, which may be disastrous, not to mention time consuming. Or should I utilize the massive ovens where I'm currently working and get it all done in one shot, then overnight the cakes to my friends place, then have her freeze them upon arrival. I plan to do all of the decorating on-site a few days before the wedding.
Are there any major drawbacks to freezing cakes? I know there are conflicting opinions about this, so I'm curious about what everyone's thoughts are. In my experience, I've never had a problem with the taste of the cake after freezing. In fact, sometimes I swear it makes the cake moister!!
So.........to freeze, or not to freeze?
And what's the best way to handle long-distance baking?
If you're going to ship undecorated cake layers, freezing them will help with the boxing and packing.
I flew from Cleveland to Las Vegas with 6 cakes. I baked them, let them cool, wrapped them in saran, froze them, boxed them individually, wrapped the boxes in foil, put them in a carry on suitcase, and off we went.
Boxing well is your biggest issue. My layers were 2" tall squares (14, 10, 6). My DH made custom boxes for each layer, so 6 boxes in all. Each box held one cake layer sandwiched between 3/16th inch foamcore boards. It may have been overkill, but even if one of us dropped the suitcase, we knew that the cakes couldn't budge. Since I put each tier on it's own board, anyway, I really only had 3 extra boards in the end (and wound up needing to adapt one to support the topper, anyway!).
There's going to be a lot of expense involved here, but if it were me, I'd probably carry-on what I could without paying extra $ to the airline, and then I'd send each LAYER ahead of me (next day delivery) in it's own box (that way if there's a mailing problem, I don't lose everything).
Let us know how it all works out!
You raise an interesting point........I wonder if it would be cheaper to "pack" a couple extra suitcases with the cakes, and bring them with me, as opposed to shipping them separately. I think the airlines charge $25 to $50 for each additional bag up to 50 lbs., but that is way cheaper than what the USPS would charge. Hmmmm........
I fly a lot and often sit just in front of the wing with a good view of the way the luggage is being handled
That said, I wouldn't ship cakes in a suitcase for routine luggage handling for all the tea in China. That gorilla in the Samsonite commercial is extremely gentle compared to what I see baggage handlers doing to bags, boxes, etc.
Colette Peters has told me that she uses Continental Airlines cargo shipping service for decorated cakes, but I believe that's very expensive.