Cupcakes aren't just for children's birthday parties anymore -- they're becoming a staple for weddings too. Even though they take less time than wedding cakes, they're tedious. After all, you're not just decorating one, solid wedding cake -- you're now decorating dozens, if not hundreds, of cupcakes for a single event. You can make cupcakes ahead of time to save yourself from rushing, but how far in advanced depends on a few factors: how they're stored, decorated and lined.
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Cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for up to two days in an airtight container. So, you could bake your cupcakes and store them up to two days before the event. Don't frost or fill the cupcakes; otherwise you'll need to store them in the refrigerator to avoid spoilage.
Cupcakes -- frosted or filled -- can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days. You'll need to store them in the refrigerator if they've been frosted or filled with dairy-based items, such as custard, whipped cream or buttercream. Place them in a large, airtight container or wrap them with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
Unfrosted, unfilled cupcakes may be stored in the freezer for up to six months before a wedding, but it's best to only store them one to two months prior to minimize the risk of freezer burn. Bake cupcakes and allow them to cool completely. Wrap them with multiple layers of plastic wrap and then finish with a layer of aluminum foil. If you don't want to wrap the cupcakes, you can instead place them side-by-side in a freezer bag. Keep frozen cupcakes toward the back of the freezer. For defrosting, remove them from the freezer, unwrap and allow them to thaw on the counter for one to two hours or until completely defrosted. Don't leave cupcakes in their wrappings while defrosting -- condensation inside can turn the cupcakes gummy and make cupcake liners peel away.
Make cupcake batter ahead of time and then freeze the batter, rather than baking and storing cupcakes. To make the process faster, portion the cupcake batter in the cupcake liners, inside the muffin pan. Place the pan in the freezer. Once the batter has set, remove the frozen batter and liners and place them into a heavy-duty freezer storage bag. When you're ready to bake, remove the batter from the freezer, place the cups back in a muffin pan and immediately into the oven. Increase the baking time by 5 to 7 minutes to compensate for the frozen batter.
Cupcake liners can peel away from cupcakes during storage. This is especially true for high-fat-content cupcake recipes or moist cupcake recipes. Use bakery-grade cupcake liners to prevent this. When removing cupcakes from the oven, take them out of the cupcake pan as quickly as possible to prevent condensation from forming between the cake and liner -- which can also lead to peeling liners.