I have never had to bake ahead. I'm nervous about freshness. Freezer? Fridge? Saran wrap on bare cake? Crumbcoat? HELP!
There are many many posts on this subject Most of do/have frozen cake How to wrap depends on how long it will be in the freezer For just a couple of days I just pop it into a plastic bag For longer wrap in 2 layers of plastic wrap & maybe even add a layer of aluminum foil Everyone has a different idea of how much is needed:) Do not wrap in foil only —it will develop pin size holes that are not seen & allow air in to dry/spoil the baked goods
Ditto what kakeladi said. Properly wrapped cake keeps perfectly frozen for a LONG time, like a year. I usually fill and crumb coat my cakes, pop them in the freezer until the are good and stiff on the outside, then wrap them in a double thickness of plastic wrap, the a layer of heavy foil. When I remove them from the freezer, I put them in the refrigerator the night before I plan to decorate, still wrapped.
It also works perfectly well to frost the cake with buttercream, but if I have completely frosted, I like to put the cake in a box and wrap the box with a couple of layers of plastic wrap, to protect the frosting. I have never frozen a fondant decorated cake, but I know others have with good results.
If it is just for a few days, I put plastic wrap over the pan, and freeze pan and all. NOTE: It is harder to remove a cold cake from a cold pan than a warm cake from a warm pan, but overall I find this process quicker. I thaw with the plastic on. Once thawed, I removed the plastic, turn the pan upside down, and use my hands to warm it so the cake falls out.
For longer than a few days, I wrap the cake in 2 layers of plastic and 1 layer of foil.
I did a test with 4 chocolate cakes:
Cake 1: Frozen for a week in 2 layers of plastic and 1 layer of foil
Cake 2: Frozen for 3 days in the pan with 1 layer of plastic
Cake 3: Baked and left at room temperature for 24 hours
Cake 4 Fresh baked
Everyone preferred the frozen cakes with little difference noted between the two.
I used to have info posted on Wilton regarding government testing of quality of baked goods and length of time before freezing causes deterioration of quality but with their deleting of the forums - sadly that info is gone. That information was from a study done in around 2001 or so.
What I remember is that there is no noticeable deterioration of quality in appearance or taste in under 6 weeks although it can happen in as little as 2 to 3 weeks. I prefer not to freeze for more than a week or two. I usually prefer to wrap cakes that had a simple syrup applied, in plastic wrap, then foil and then bag or box them. I sometimes freeze iced cakes or cupcakes but the only drawback is the icing changes consistency once frozen. It is still good but not creamy on the exterior.
Generally the smaller the cake, the shorter time it should be frozen so cupcakes have a shorter freezer life. Obviously cake mix cakes freeze longer due to all of the preservatives in them. Fruitcakes freeze the longest - a year or years.
A chest freezer freezes harder and better than a vertical freezer and the freezer part of a refrigerator generally doesn't freeze as well.
Cookies freeze better and longer than cakes - 6 months with little noticeable deterioration in taste although I prefer not to freeze longer than 6 weeks.I freeze in plastic freezer bags with layers of parchment between.