Birthday cake - frosted the day before?
January 31, 2014 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Tips on frosting a cake the day before its to be eaten and then transporting?

So I am baking a cake for a party but that morning I won't have time to bake and frost the cake. I also thought of baking the cake the day before and assembling it the day of but that won't do either. So my final option is to bake and frost the cake the day before and then just transport it. Ultimately it will be a simple cake like this one. So my questions:

- I was planning on doing a swiss buttercream frosting. Is this the best icing for this endevaour? I am afraid of it melting or getting hard before the party. Any tips to make sure it doesn't?
- So once I finish the cake do I refrigerate it? Should I be worried about condensation?
- Any tips on keeping the cake moist?

Any other tips are greatly appreciated!
posted by xicana63 to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
Typically that smooth frosting is fondant, which you can buy in sheets, or a Royal Icing, which is smooth for wedding cakes. If it has eggs or butter in it, it should be refrigerated.

If you can arrange it, an empty freezer would be perfect. Put your cake on a cardboard disk, and then into a plastic/Tupperware type cake storage container. It will take a few hours to thaw, and more if you can keep it in the fridge.

A nice frosting will keep the cake moist.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:53 PM on January 31, 2014

In my experience, swiss buttercream is too delicate and can deflate when it sits overnight. I think a cream cheese and butter based frosting would be much sturdier.
posted by elvissa at 1:58 PM on January 31, 2014

Like Ruthless Bunny said, a solid coat of frosting will keep your cake moist, but if you're very concerned you can also paint it with simple syrup before you frost it. That moisture will stay trapped in the cake.
posted by brilliantine at 2:01 PM on January 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

I bake a lot of cakes. I've baked many cakes the day before and then transported. I actually think my husband's birthday cake last year was made TWO days before.

By Swiss Buttercream, do you mean Swiss Meringue Buttercream? That might be a bit too delicate (as mentioned before), but it might be just fine. My most favorite baking blog discusses SMB, and she mentions keeping her cakes in the fridge overnight (among many other things about SMB).

Any regular buttercream should hold up just fine.

I would worry about melting only if you are transporting it in hot weather (think 85 degrees F or higher).

If you're worried about keeping it smooth, you can smooth it on-site with a knife dipped in a bit of milk or water. A standard buttercream might get "crispy" or hard on the very very top layer as it dries, and a smooth-over with a bit of milk on a knife will also solve that issue. Keep your cake covered if you can, loosely with plastic wrap or under a cake dome if you have one.

The icing will keep the cake moist. No need to worry about that!
posted by kellygrape at 3:37 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I used to bake for a restaurant, and layer cakes held up just fine in the fridge for several days, frosted and in airtight containers. Even if you're not using a container, overnight in the fridge should be fine.

Assuming yours will have layers like the one you linked, you could bake and assemble it the day before, doing only a brief crumb coat on the exterior, then top it off on the day of the party.

I wouldn't worry about moistness - if you're just baking it one day ahead of time (although you can do it farther back, by freezing the cake), it won't have time to dry out, and the frosting seals it in anyway. Ditto condensation. Shouldn't be much of a problem, and if it somehow is, a knife or spatula dipped in hot water will smooth things out.

Regular old buttercream (butter + powdered sugar + flavoring + milk to thin) is your best bet. Swiss meringue is lovely but finicky.
posted by jessicapierce at 5:07 PM on January 31, 2014

If at all possible, let it sit at room temp for an hour or so before it's going to be eaten... this will make the frosting soften back to a creamy state. (Lots of people don't mind cool cake though, and it will be good both ways.)
posted by jessicapierce at 5:26 PM on January 31, 2014

The cake will stay moist as long as it is fully frosted, don't worry.

I also think your best bet is regular American buttercream -- sub cream cheese for some of the butter if you want it to be tastier, and add lemon juice. It'll be fine for days. Swiss is trickier.

Do you have a good cake carrier? They aren't expensive and they make a huge difference in the feasibility of the project.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:37 PM on January 31, 2014

Not to post every other comment on this thread, but I get excited about cake.

Seconding the idea of a cake carrier, which will simplify your life. This one is carried by Target, is super sturdy, and should be under $10.
posted by jessicapierce at 7:12 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

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