I’m going to show you how save a huge amount of time, free up your schedule, and get neater frosting by freezing cakes.
If you prefer to watch a video of this tutorial, scroll to the bottom of the page.
I know what you’re thinking and before getting into the technical details, I want to address your concern: that frozen cakes taste bad. If you follow these steps, you can confidently freeze cake layers and even entire cakes (frosted and decorated) for two months!
I’ll show you how to defrost your cakes properly too and when you slice into them you will never know they were frozen because the taste and texture will be perfect, the same as on the day of baking the cake.
How to freeze cake layers
After you bake your cakes, let them cool completely. If you want to level and divide them and drizzle them with simple syrup, do that now because it’s easier when the cake is at room temperature than when it’s frozen.
Wrap the cake layers in cling film or saran wrap. It’s important that they’re sealed so there aren’t any gaps where the moisture from the freezer can get through to the cake because that’s what can dry cakes out and make them taste like the freezer.
You can wrap layers individually or stack them but make sure there’s plastic wrap in between each layer otherwise they’ll stick together when they freeze. I only stack two layers at a time because these layers are freshly baked and very delicate, and adding the weight of another layer could cause the bottom layer to crack or crumble.
You can do this with any cake flavour and size. Being able to freeze cake layers means you can bake double or triple batches of cake, minimizing baking time and then pulling the layers out of the freezer whenever you want to make another cake!
Put the layers in the freezer and when you want to make a cake, move the layers to the fridge the night before and they’ll thaw overnight, ready to use the next day.
How to assemble and frost a cake with frozen cake layers
When cake layers are frozen they’re firm and stable and not crumbly, which makes them easy to handle so I like to assemble cakes with layers that are still frozen, straight out of the freezer. Because they’re less crumbly, they’re a dream to frost so you can even apply your crumb coat while the cake is still frozen! The frosting will glide over the cakes without pulling off crumbs and it will be easy to smooth the frosting as it starts to chill and sets against the cold cake layers.
I like to wait for the cake to thaw before applying the final coat of frosting because then you’ll have much more time to perfect the frosting. I don’t recommend frosting frozen cakes because those frozen cake layers will chill and set the frosting very quickly, making you race against time to get your frosting smooth before it sets.
So after applying the crumb coat, leave the cake at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for an hour or two and then it won’t be as cold. When you frost the cake it will be stable, not wobbly, so you’ll find it much easier to get your frosting really smooth than if you try frosting a room temperature cake.
How to freeze a cake
After you assemble and crumb coat a cake, getting those stages out of the way, you can freeze the crumb coated cake. This way, you can do the preparation in advance and then when you’re ready to frost and decorate the cake, you don’t have to dedicate a whole day and start from scratch – you can skip straight to the fun part of frosting and decorating!
Even more useful, you can freeze a cake after frosting and decorating it, which is really useful if you need a cake for a certain date but your schedule is really busy that week so you won’t have time to make the cake. After decorating the cake, put it into the freezer for one hour to chill and set the frosting and the decorations and then take it out.
Wrap it in as many layers as you need to completely seal the cake so there’s nowhere for the air in the freezer to sneak through. I find that the easiest way to do this is to place two pieces of plastic wrap on the counter, making a cross, and then place the cake in the middle. Fold each end of each piece of plastic wrap over the cake and then crimp the sides together.
It’s the moisture in the air in the freezer that changes the taste and texture of a cake, so that’s what you want to protect the cake from. Put the cake in the freezer for up to two months, until the night before you need it.
That night before, move the cake from the freezer to the fridge, still in its wrapping, and it will thaw overnight. Four hours before serving the cake, take it out of the fridge and put it somewhere cool in your home to continue to warm up slowly.
Straight after taking the cake out of the fridge, unwrap it while the frosting is still cold and firm and the plastic wrap won’t damage it. When the cake comes to room temperature about 4 hours after coming out of the fridge, you’ll be able to slice through it easily and the cake will be as moist and delicious as it was on the day you baked it.
If you found this tutorial useful, check out my online course on the Basics of Cake, which covers every step of making a cake: mixing, baking, levelling and dividing, assembling, frosting, decorating, storing, transporting and serving cakes!