Cakes are meant to be soft and airy, but those qualities also make them difficult to decorate. Professional bakers use a simple technique to overcome this problem: freezing.
Reasons to Freeze a Cake
Most professional bakers freeze cakes before decorating them. This trick accomplishes two things: it improves the cake's texture and makes it easier to slice layers and crumb coat them.
Improve the Cake's Structure
Cakes are held together by delicate gluten protein strands. Freezing a cooled cake helps firm up those proteins, trapping moisture in the cake and firming the crumb.
Ease Cutting and Crumb Coating
No cake comes out of the oven perfectly flat. To achieve an even look, you need to trim the cake layers. Cutting a warm or room-temperature cake is an exercise in frustration, but slicing through the same cake that has been chilled is easy. The cold helps the cake hold together as the knife passes through.
The same concept applies to crumb coating, or the technique of applying a thin layer of frosting to a cake to prevent crumbs from marring the outer layer of frosting. Freezing a cake layer before crumb coating prevents loose crumbs from flaking off, making it easier to apply a thinner layer of frosting.
Prepare and Freeze a Cake
Plan to freeze a cake for a minimum of four hours and up to several months.
Things You'll Need
- Plastic wrap
- Aluminum foil
Let the cake cool completely on a rack.
Wrap the cake in two layers of plastic wrap. Make sure that all surfaces of the cake are covered.
Wrap the cake in aluminum foil. If you plan to store the cake for more than a few hours, or you have several cakes in your freezer, label it with the type of cake and the date.
Lay the cake flat in the coldest part of your freezer.
Thaw the Frozen Cake
Move a frozen cake from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before you plan to decorate. Slow thawing is important to allow the cake to reabsorb moisture. Once the cake is thawed, remove it from the refrigerator and carefully unwrap the layers of aluminum foil and plastic wrap.
Cut and crumb coat the layers immediately, while the cake is still cold.
Don't worry about serving chilled cake to your guests. By the time you finish decorating, it will be at room temperature.