Go Ahead and Bake That Layer Cake (You Can Freeze the Slices for Your Future Self)
If you’re looking for a fun, frivolous baking project, a gorgeous layer cake should be high on your to-bake list. Sure, stress-baking banana bread at the start of quarantine was fun, and maybe you even got into a sourdough bread routine, baked brownies, and made biscuits. Now take a day to bake a gorgeous layer cake at home. Don’t wait for an occasion to celebrate or until you can share a cake with friends, because you can bake your favorite layer cake and freeze it for later.
Better yet, you can slice and freeze your favorite cake recipe in individual servings to pull out, thaw, and eat anytime a cake craving strikes. Here’s how to do it.
How to Freeze Cake Slices, According to a Pastry Pro
I reached out to my friend Beth Somers — former Wilton Cakes test kitchen director, recipe developer, and general cake maven — for her best advice on freezing layer cakes. Somers is currently baking Quarantine Commission Cakes from her home kitchen for sharing (or for freezing), and her advice was a bit surprising.
“To keep your layer cake fresh in the freezer, employ a technique popularized by the rotating glass dessert cases of Greek diners: Press parchment paper or waxed paper directly onto the cut sides of the cake. This holds moisture in and keeps the delicate cake from drying out. Freeze the slices like this on a baking sheet until the frosting is firm, which happens fast with buttercream frosting.”
Buttercream frosted cakes will freeze quickly, but Somers recommends an overnight chill to protect your decorative layers: “Waiting until the frosting is frozen before wrapping helps to preserve the aesthetic that you worked so hard to make nice when you iced your fresh layer cake,” she says. The next day you can wrap your parchment paper-protected pieces in plastic wrap and stack to save space.
Somers suggests plating still-frozen slices, too: “When you’re ready to dig into your freezer stash, remove the plastic wrap while the slice is still frozen, and put it straight onto a serving plate. The less you move it around as it starts thawing, the prettier your slice will remain. Individual slices thaw out super quickly, but I also like to eat them mid-thaw because the different textures and temperatures make it feel like a totally different dessert,” she notes.
If freezing individual slices seems like too much work or you want to reduce the amount of plastic wrap you’re using, you can freeze larger hunks of cake using the same method. Protect cut ends with parchment or waxed paper, freeze overnight, and then wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve.