Taking on the task of baking a wedding cake is a lot of responsibility. Instead of scrambling the day before the wedding to bake, frost, carve, stack and cover the cakes, you can save a few headaches by baking ahead of time. The amount of time you can save depends on the method you choose to store and what precautions you take in the process.
You’ll have two options for baking cake layers: baking one to two days before the event, or up to three months. The amount of time you have depends on the storage method you select – room temperature or freezer. To ensure your cake stores properly, follow the recipe exactly and avoid over-baking a cake. Over-baked cakes – no matter how they’re stored – won’t hold well until wedding day.
If you choose to store a baked cake at room temperature, you can bake up to two days before the event. Bake the cakes as the recipe instructs and cool them completely. If you’re not ready to frost and stack them that day, wrap each cake layer in a tight cover of plastic wrap. Don’t place the cakes in the refrigerator – this can dry them out. As long as your cakes aren’t iced or filled with fruits or other perishable ingredients, you can keep them at room temperature for up to two days. Once filled, however, you’ll need to wrap them with plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator.
You can bake a wedding cake up to three months in advance if you freeze the layers individually. Bake and cool the cakes according to the recipe. Then wrap each layer individually in two layers of plastic wrap and two layers of aluminum foil. Place cake layers in the freezer on an even surface – if stored unevenly, they can warp, crack or crumble. Keep frozen cakes toward the back of the freezer where they won’t be exposed to the air each time your freezer is opened. When thawing, leave plastic wrap and aluminum foil in place and allow each layer to thaw on the counter for three to four hours. By leaving wraps on, the condensation will form on the plastic wrap and foil rather than on the cake, preventing the cake from becoming soggy or mushy.
When stacking wedding cakes with larger tier sizes, such as 12 to 18 inches in diameter, freeze each layer individually – without wrapping. Remove from the freezer, trim and assemble while frozen. This allows you to pick up and move each tier easily and without risk of breaking or crumbling larger layers while assembling. Allow the layers — with filling – to thaw before crumb coating, frosting or adding fondant. Never place fondant on a frozen cake – this creates condensation that softens fondant and can make it gummy and fall apart.
References and ResourcesBetty Crocker: Wedding Cakes
Pillsbury: Pillsbury's Wedding Cake Guide
The Kitchn: Quick Tip: Freeze Pre-Baked Cakes