Smooth, airy and delicious, whipped cream makes a quick icing for any cake. Unlike commercial cake frosting, whipped cream isn't shelf-stable and must be refrigerated, which can compromise the texture and flavor of cake. For the best results, frost a cake with whipped cream just before you serve it.
Because whipped cream is perishable, you must refrigerate a cake iced with it. Keep in mind, though, that those light, fluffy layers of whipped cream quickly lose volume during storage, becoming runny and soft. You can extend the life of a whipped cream icing by stabilizing it with gelatin. Soften unflavored gelatin in a bit of cold water, followed by boiling water. Add a tablespoon to the whipping cream before you whip it. Use the freshest whipping cream you can find and make sure it's whipping cream -- not half-and-half or table cream, which won't whip. A cake iced with stabilized whipping cream can be refrigerated for 24 hours with no ill effects to the frosting.
The best way to keep a cake for a day or two is simply to wrap it and store it at room temperature. To avoid food safety issues, wait to ice it until immediately before you serve it. This also ensures that the whipping cream will be fresh, light and delicious. After serving, store any leftovers in the refrigerator, but use them within a day or two. Refrigerating cake makes it dry out more quickly. Let the cake return to room temperature before eating those tasty leftovers.
Cakes freeze beautifully for up to three months, although you should wait to ice them until serving time. After baking, allow the cake to cool completely. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer. Then when you need an impromptu treat for a school party or celebration, pull out the cake, ice it while it's still frozen and allow it to thaw at room temperature. The whipped cream icing adds moistness and sweetness.
Whipped cream icing is softer than buttercream, but kids love its mild, sweet flavor and it spreads easily. You can decorate a cake with sweetened whipped cream alone or mix in food coloring or melted, cooled chocolate to add some pizazz. Let kids add some sprinkles to the finished product.
How well a cake holds up during storage depends a lot on the ingredients in the cake. Cakes high in butter, sugar, fruit purees or other moist ingredients tend to stay fresh longer when stored in the refrigerator or frozen. Light, stiff cakes, such as pound cake, dry out more quickly.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."
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