If you're planning an event, it's helpful to do as much as you can in advance to cut down on the work, come game day. Depending on how much time you have, you can bake cakes a few days, or, even a few months, before you need them. Instead of worrying about the cake, spend those last few hours before the party relaxing and enjoying the fruits of your hard work.
If you don't intend to frost the cake until the day of the event, you can bake it up to a week in advance. Allow the cake to cool completely according to recipe directions. Tightly wrap each layer in plastic wrap, making sure that no part of the cake is exposed to air. Place each wrapped cake in separate zip-top plastic bags and store them at room temperature. Do not stack the cake layers on top of each other.
If you wish to frost your cake in advance, bake and frost it no more than 5 days before the event. The frosting acts as a barrier for the cake, sealing in moisture and preventing it from drying out. Luckily, plastic wrap isn't necessary to store a frosted cake for just a few days so you won't mess up your beautifully decorated confection. Place the cake in an airtight cake keeper or a cake stand with a lid. You can also place the cake underneath an overturned bowl; just make sure the bowl is big enough to avoid contact with the frosting. Store the covered cake in a cool place.
Although cakes can remain safely at room temperature for up to a week, you should store them in the refrigerator if you wish to prepare them more than 3 days in advance of the event. Tightly wrap the cake in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out or absorbing odd flavors from the fridge. If you're making a layer cake, wrap each unfrosted layer separately. If the cake is frosted, place it in the refrigerator, uncovered, for about 20 minutes prior to wrapping to prevent the frosting from becoming squished underneath the plastic wrap. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.
If you're someone who likes to plan ahead, you can bake a cake up to several months in advance and freeze it until you're ready to use it. Allow the cake to cool completely before storing them to avoid freezer burn. Once the cake has cooled, wrap it tightly with two or three layers of plastic wrap, and then wrap it in another layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Write the current date on the foil for future reference. Freeze cake layers for at least 12 hours before stacking them to prevent them from becoming compacted. To use the frozen cakes, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before frosting them. Always thaw frozen cakes in the refrigerator; cakes thawed at room temperature can become soggy.
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