Should We Eat It: Wedding Cake
September 20, 2011 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Should we eat it... a year from now? [The Wedding Cake Edition]

Mr. Blues (!) and I got married on Sunday. After all the festivities were concluded, the caterer presented us with the top layer of the cake in a standard cardboard pastry box. We were kind of exhausted and didn't think to ask the hotel to refrigerate it. The next day we spent the day hiking and sightseeing, and then drove home, arriving around 2 am- a total of roughly 36 hours unrefrigerated. Temperatures were in the high-60s to low-70s.

Currently, the cake is residing in said cardboard box in the freezer. I plan to transfer two slices into an airtight container to be eaten on our anniversary, per tradition. Should we eat it?

Additional details:

- It is yellow cake with raspberry puree and vanilla cream layers. I think the vanilla cream layers involved ricotta. Some kind of whipped frosting (not fondant). Gum-paste flowers. The cake was pretty well soaked in simple syrup.

- It didn't smell weird or anything last night.

- I'm somewhat concerned that we won't be able to detect any off flavors in light of inevitable freezer burn / it being a year old.

- It would be preferable not to have group food poisoning on our first anniversary, fun as that can be.

If the consensus is no, we won't bother wrapping it / having it take up space in our freezer, thus the timing of the question.
posted by charmcityblues to Food & Drink (27 answers total)
Call your wedding cake maker and ask their opinion.

They made the cake, they oughta know what they put in it and how self stable it is.

My vote is to eat it, btw.
posted by royalsong at 1:58 PM on September 20, 2011

My Mom wrapped my sister's cake and pulled some out for us a year and a half later. It tasted DISGUSTING. It probably wouldn't have killed us, but nobody ate more than bite.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:58 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Keep it in the freezer. Decide the day of your 1st anniversary. If nothing else you'll recall the 36 hours of fun you had while your cake was not refrigerated.
posted by thorny at 1:59 PM on September 20, 2011

We saved ours and it was gross a year later, but it was still fun to take it out of the freezer and find out it was gross.
posted by michaelh at 2:02 PM on September 20, 2011 [6 favorites]

My vote goes to not-eating. I think in this case, the risk outweighs the reward; the best-case scenario is eating a mouthful of really gross freezer-burned cake, then going out and buying a new cake anyway. If you're feeling adventurous, I'd eat it now, but everyone I know who did the anniversary-freezer-cake thing regretted it.

And congratulations!
posted by specialagentwebb at 2:06 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh it really won't kill you, but it's going to be completely gross. I do not understand this tradition, although maybe it started with fruitcake type wedding cakes which are meant to be aged (disgusting in my opinion as well)
posted by boobjob at 2:09 PM on September 20, 2011

I think the cake is probably just fine (safe) to eat, but as many have mentioned, will probably mostly taste like freezer burn and picked-up flavors of other things in your freezer by the time a whole year goes by. Still, keep it and get it out on your anniversary, and pick off a forkful for kicks.
posted by jonathanweber at 2:10 PM on September 20, 2011

Best answer: You will be fine. You may notice some oxidation in the buttercream which means it will be a different color. Wrap the cake in a tight layer of plastic wrap, then two layers of tinfoil. It is best to keep the whole layer intact and not preslice. Next year, unwrap the whole thing, slice two thin pieces with a hot knife (pitcher of hot water, submerge blade 30 seconds, towel dry, cut). Apply a new piece of Satan wrap tightly against all exposed surfaces and two similarly tight pieces of foil. Save the remainder for years 2-5.

As far as your cake is concerned, the biggest problem will be staling, if you have already an open wound to the crumb, you may want to take off a centimeter or so of exposed surface.

If your cake goes bad over the year (or 5) you will see growth on the crumb, that's the sign to chuck it - another reason to keep the pieces thin...
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:12 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd just eat it now, honestly (so long as you like it enough). It will be nasty in a year because it's not a fruitcake. It doesn't sound like the (now very distorted) tradition is that important to you, so why have it take up space you could use for ice cream?
posted by crabintheocean at 2:14 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So the whole wedding-cake-after-a-year thing dates to the period of fruitcake wedding cakes—super-dense, dark, rich, booze-soaked cakes full of candied and preserved fruits. The kind that you could wrap in paper and keep for a year on the shelf anyway.

I think your cake will probably be safe to eat, as long as the cream doesn't smell off, but it will be *really* gross, particularly the ricotta cream part, which will separate and be super-yucky.

I vote for keeping it anyway and finding out for yourselves (possibly just saving the cake/jam portion and tossing the cream filling), but adjust for your own food perversity level.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:16 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it helps, this is what Mr. Ipsum and I did:

The place where we got our cake also sells cakes by the slice. So rather than saving the top layer, we had the whole cake served at the reception. On our first anniversary, I went back to the bakery and got 2 slices of that same flavor and we had that for dessert after dinner.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 2:16 PM on September 20, 2011 [9 favorites]

The tradition is with fruitcake and should be attempted with fruitcake only, which will keep that long. Other cakes don't. This misunderstanding leads to a lot of horrible one-year-anniversary cake, and people going "why on earth did you keep that bit of cake for a year?!"
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:18 PM on September 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Order a new little cake of your cake next year*. Even if you hermetically-sealed the thing and put it in an industrial freezer, it's going to taste unhappy next year. You don't want unhappiness for your anniversary.

*Or entirely different cake. Make it a point to eat a new kind of cake every year! That is an awesome idea that I am going to steal for myself, 8 years in.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:25 PM on September 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

Most wedding bakeries these days will make you an anniversary cake for free or for a reduced price. Most people I know don't actually eat the original top layer--they either have it remade, or don't bother with it.
posted by litnerd at 2:27 PM on September 20, 2011

I have an alternative story: After my first wedding I wrapped the top layer of my cake super tightly in saran (Satan!) wrap and foil, stuck in it in the freezer, and forgot about it for 18 months. When I finally noticed it in the depths of the freezer we thawed and ate it. It was fucking delicious.

It was a chocolate raspberry cake with some sort of white frosting, probably buttercream. The frosting fell off when it thawed, but the cake part was amazing--super moist, not freezer-y at all.

I say go for it. You might just throw it out next year, or you might end up with a great piece of cake. Who doesn't like that?
posted by apricot at 2:42 PM on September 20, 2011


We didn't intend to follow this tradition but just so happened to have a metric assload of cake left over after our wedding. I'm talking the top plus another layer and a half. After giving away what we could and stuffing ourselves, we froze the top layer--all in one piece, not cut into pieces.

Maybe 5 months later we took it as our contribution to an impromptu potluck dinner, and it was f'ing delicious. Tasted exactly like it did on our wedding day, no lie. Looked a lot less pretty, though. It was chocolate buttercream frosting, chocolate cake, raspberry cream filling, and raspberry jam. Topped with candied kumquats.

I was given this tip: Do not cut it into pieces. Wrap it as a whole inside 2-3 layers of foil and then 1 more of plastic wrap.

But seriously, don't freeze it for a year unless you just want to be able to say you did it. Chances are really slim you're going to enjoy it.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 2:53 PM on September 20, 2011

Response by poster: Maybe I should mention that we can't preserve the whole thing, mostly for freezer space, but also because we ate some for breakfast the next day!

Still on the fence, though it seems that it's not likely to kill us, anyway.
posted by charmcityblues at 3:01 PM on September 20, 2011

My wedding cake baker actually included in the wedding cake package a mini-cake they baked you a year later for the anniversary because, as the baker told me, "Eating year-old cake is disgusting and I really like to discourage that."

So I'm a no. (It's kind-of a weird tradition. But I guess a lot of traditions are weird.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:31 PM on September 20, 2011

Best answer: First off: congratulations!

I think saving the wedding cake is one of those traditions that you won't feel bad about skipping. Poisonous or not, it's definitely going to be inedibly grody after a year in the freezer.

Growing up, we stored leftover birthday-type cake at room temperature, and it always kept for days. The ricotta filling in your cake would concern me, though, and I'd be wary of eating it after having been out so long.

Regardless of the cake's current condition, I vote for saving yourself the hassle and freezer space, and getting a guaranteed-delicious new little cake for your anniversary. You can also start a tradition of referring to plastic wrap as Satan wrap from now on.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:36 PM on September 20, 2011

I think freezing ricotta would be nasty. I'd eat it now.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:50 PM on September 20, 2011

We got married in HI. The cake traveled back to Atlanta with us. It was disgusting one year later, but it didn't kill us.
posted by COD at 5:08 PM on September 20, 2011

What everyone said, the cake was going to be gross anyway. Doubtful you would get sick from the one tiny bite that you would eat, regardless! We had a small wedding, our reception was at a sweet little restaurant. We went back there for our first anniversary and they served us our yuck old cake. Really, the cake was terrible, but it was fun (and the restaurant served us something tasty after the cake).
posted by upatree at 5:20 PM on September 20, 2011

I wouldn't suggest saving it to eat a year later. There are lots of perishable parts and freezing it will only make it taste like frozen cake about to go bad.

Enjoy it now if it's still good.

You can always celebrate with some other amazing pastry when your first anniversary arrives.

Congratulations, may your days be filled with love, laughter and good health!
posted by Yellow at 5:32 PM on September 20, 2011

I think it'd be fine to eat it now. However after a year in the freezer it'll be gross. Not because it's bad now but because it will have been in the freezer for a year. If your goal is to have delicious cake on your anniversary, you should buy one then. If your goal is to take part in a tradition, then freeze it, and then just eat a single mouthful of stale freezer burnt cake a year from now. It won't be enjoyable in the way cake usually is, but it's unlikely to make you ill.
posted by katyggls at 6:09 PM on September 20, 2011

I will agree with the above posters and note that you only save wedding cakes made of fruitcake (and iced with marzipan and royal icing) which are perfectly delicious a year later. We had an entirely layer left over, which we served a year later and it tasted like it did at the wedding.

Fruitcakes are still the traditional and relatively common wedding cake for Brits and some Canadians (like Maritimers), though the American fashion for soft cake may be spreading.
posted by jb at 6:24 PM on September 20, 2011

Yeah, it will not be delicious. We saved part of our cake (we didn't have layers, we had a friend bake it, and it was lovely on the day), and my charming husband was completely uninterested after seeing it a year later. I have an obscene sweet tooth at times, so I tried it. Sad to say, he was right, and I threw the rest of it away. Oh, well.
posted by Because at 6:51 PM on September 20, 2011

My cake definitely survived a lot to get to my parents' freezer and from there to mine (overnight in a hotel fridge, hours in a hot car, etc). It was so good a year later that I ended up eating it for dessert for a week, like, on purpose. I suspect this worked because frozen fondant serves as armor?
posted by troublesome at 9:36 PM on September 20, 2011

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