Help, my event is cancelled – can I freeze my cake???
I am writing this blog as, unfortunately, this exact scenario happened to one of my customers back in March. She collected her daughter’s 2-tiered christening cake at 2pm. By 7pm the mini Beast from the East was in full swing and she had to cancel her event for the following day due to 3 feet of snowfall. Her question to me was “can I freeze my cake?”.
Honestly, my first thought was horror. I had successfully frozen plain cakes in the past but never a fully iced and decorated cake and was concerned that her beautiful christening cake would be ruined. But the alternative was to have a wasted cake and extra expense of making a new one for the rearranged event so between us, we went for it. And I am glad to say that it emerged relatively unscathed, bar a few flowers dropping off which was easily remedied. So if you find yourself in the same predicament, here is a step-by-step guide to what we did:
- Make sure that the cake hasn’t been pre-frozen. Some cake decorators do this during busy periods to save time and it is perfectly normal. Luckily, I don’t but it is always worth checking as you cannot re-freeze a previously frozen cake.
- Remove the model from the top (sugar is a preservative and models made with edible paste will keep forever if stored in a cardboard box out of direct sunlight. Do not put in an airtight container otherwise it will go soft.
- Wrap the cake as tightly as you can with a couple of layers of cling film. This is to retain the moisture, prevent freezer burn and avoid any contamination with other frozen foodstuffs. You can even then cover with a layer of foil if you wish.
- Pop it in the freezer (in its box if you have space, to prevent it getting bashed).
How long can it be frozen for? My research brought up little in the way of definite answers. Some suggest up to a year for a fully decorated fruit cake, others 4 to 6 months as the structure and therefore taste will then start to breakdown. For me, 3 months is the optimum for a sponge cake, with 6 months being the maximum. It would probably still be safe to eat after this time, but the quality would most likely be compromised. Eleanor’s cake was two tiers of madeira sponge and was frozen for almost exactly 3 months.
- Remove from freezer approx 3 days before the event and place in the fridge for approx. 8 hours or overnight. Do not remove the cling film.
- Take cake out of fridge and place in a cool place at room temperature. Again, leave for approx. 8 hours and do not remove the cling film.
You are gradually acclimatising the cake to the changes in temperature. Fondant hates changes in temperature and humidity which is why iced cakes should never be placed in the fridge – they will sweat. Condensation will probably appear on the cling film but leave it to do its thing.
- Gently remove the cling film, taking care to avoid any condensation dropping onto the icing. If the icing is shiny, do not touch as it is still acclimatising. It will eventually dry out if you leave it in its cardboard box.
- In our case, there were a few little flowers that fell off. You can pop these back on with a dab of water or a little edible glue. Do the same with any models on the top.
Et voila, I am glad to say that it all turned out beautifully and by all accounts the cake still tasted amazing. We were lucky that it was in soft pastels as darker colour fondant is often softer and the colours may run on defrosting. You can check out the pics below of how it looked afterwards (kindly supplied by Kristian Haigh, Eleanor’s father).
I must admit to breathing an enormous sigh of relief as I half expected to be called in to do a fixing job. Whilst it is not something I would like to repeat on a regular basis, this proves that when unfortunate circumstances occur, all is not lost.
So good luck and if you need a little moral support, you know where to find me!!!