I was horrified to learn recently that one of my wedding cakes had been ruined by the staff at the hotel venue where the reception was held because they had stored the cake in the fridge overnight. This was despite my leaving instructions with the catering manager, which she signed to acknowledge. It turns out that she had gone off duty and not passed on the instructions to the other staff. Fortunately, the reception and cake cutting ceremony had already taken place and it was only the top tier which the hotel were keeping overnight for the bride to collect the following day. Now, to say that I was more than a little upset would be a gross understatement. My beautiful cake with hand made sugar flowers that had taken several hours to lovingly design and craft, and carefully deliver to the venue and set up for the bride's big day, TOTALLY RUINED! I could have cried.
This brings me on to a question that I often get asked a lot by my customers - "how should I store my fondant covered cake? Should I put it in the fridge?" And my answer is always the same - NO, PLEASE DON'T DO THAT, YOU WILL RUIN YOUR CAKE! So here, for the avoidance of any doubt, I am publishing my cake storage guidance to ensure your cake remains in tip top condition for your celebration and you don't end up with a cake looking like the one on the right of the picture below (the first picture is how the cake looked following my set up at the venue):
ADVICE ON HOW TO STORE YOUR DECORATED CAKES
Firstly, let’s cover buttercream cakes…
Buttercream is a mixture of icing sugar, butter and a touch of vanilla essence. Different colourings and flavourings can be added, but this is essentially the base block of any buttercream recipe.
Buttercream cakes do not need to be refrigerated unless the weather is so hot that the buttercream starts to melt. Unless your cake contains fresh cream, there is absolutely no need for your cake to be stored in the fridge as the buttercream seals the surface of the cake so the air cannot get to it and dry it out.
In hot weather though you may want to store your uncut cake in the fridge. I recommend you leave the cake in its box and refrigerate for no longer than approximately 5 days. Please take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes to one hour before serving. I like to suggest this as it softens the buttercream and cake slightly and is more enjoyable than rock hard icing and cake.
If you don’t have the fridge space, please store your cake in its box in a cool location in your house for no longer than 3 days.
You may ask why buttercream can be left out of the fridge. This is due to the large amount of sugar which acts as a preservative and stabilises any milk solids.
Now for fondant cakes…
With fondant (also known as sugarpaste), many figurines and more intricate detail can be added to your cake. And how do you store this you may ask?
Leave it out on the bench… simple… whatever you do, don’t put a fondant covered cake in the fridge. Why? Because you will ruin your cake. The fondant will sweat and become sticky and tacky and may even start dripping or sliding off the cake, and the colours may run together, creating havoc for your special occasion (see picture above). For the same reason, don’t store your cake in a Tupperware container.
I recommend a fondant covered cake is left in its box in a cool spot in your house.
What about buttercream AND fondant…
Yes… there are those cakes that come right down the middle (or slightly more one than the other) of buttercream and fondant. There’s two solutions here:
1. If your cake and / or cupcakes only have minimal fondant decorations, by all means, put these in the fridge if you’d like them to last the 5 days. Your fondant attachments may very well go sticky, and not be the most enjoyable to devour… but your amount of ever so tasty buttercream will definitely make up for this.
2. If your cake and / or cupcakes have a fair few fondant decorations, or you don’t want to risk putting the cake in the fridge… simply leave out in a cool spot in your house for no longer than 3 days.
NOTE: Most of my cakes will last longer than the 3 or 5 days mentioned. In fact, I have kept and eaten my own cakes up to 2 weeks later, however, I don’t recommend that you do this! The 3/5 day limit is the maximum time I recommend to maintain the best quality of your cake. Please also note that cakes tend to dry out and go stale more quickly when stored in the fridge.
You can download a PDF version of these instructions here.
Download my advice on travelling with cakes here.
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