How to Store Cakes - Advice from a Pro

Cake storage is not the clear-cut process you thought it was. Believe me. As a lifelong cake aficionado and fangirl, I thought I knew everything there was to know about cake preparation and storage. But I was wrong.

After spending about a year working at a famous Washington, DC cupcake shop and learning from the experts, I have acquired a great deal of knowledge about the less-than-obvious process of successful cake storage.

Below I shall share my insider knowledge on how to store cakes. I'll dispel the myths, share my secrets, and help you decide on how to best store a cake based on your estimated time of eating.

Don't refrigerate me!!!
Don't refrigerate me!!! | Source
BLASPHEMY!! | Source

Refrigeration = DEATH!

I always used to refrigerate cake, probably because we (at least in the U.S.) have been conditioned to believe that all things are kept "fresh" in the refrigerator. For many years, I believed that this was a good practice, not only because one generally puts things in the refrigerator, but also because I frequently see cakes displayed in refrigerators and refrigerated cases in many cafes and restaurants.

My entire belief system was turned upside down when I had my first day of work at a famous DC cupcake shop. When I asked them how to store some of the cupcakes I was taking home at the end of the night, and suggested refrigeration in an airtight container, they looked at me like I had just proposed we cook and eat a newborn baby.

This is because my coworkers and bosses took cake and cupcakes very seriously. And because refrigeration is a dreadful thing to inflict on a perfectly good cake.

Why? Refrigeration dries sponge cakes out. It's that simple.

Even if you refrigerate a cake in a perfectly sealed container and only for a short amount of time, it will dry out. The only time it is appropriate to refrigerate a cake is if it has decorative buttercream icing that is literally MELTING (and in this case, appearance trumps taste) or if it is not a sponge cake and rather a cheesecake or some sort of mousse that requires refrigeration.

Try to think of sponge cake like bread. After all, the two things are quite similar. Do you put your bread in the fridge? No. So don't put your cake in the fridge either!

Eat your cake now!
Eat your cake now! | Source
Keep your cake boxed for up to three days
Keep your cake boxed for up to three days | Source
Sealed containers are best
Sealed containers are best | Source

So how do I store cakes?

Since refrigeration is obviously out of the question, you might be wondering what your options are. Let me first introduce the best short-term options.

Bake Fresh and EAT

Most sponge cakes are at their prime when freshly baked, so whenever possible, bake and eat cakes the day they are made. If you are going to a bakery to get cake, check with them to see what their policy is regarding timing. Some bakeries, such as the cupcake shop at which I worked, have a very strict policy of baking cakes fresh every day. This is very labor intensive and taxing, but it also means that you'll get the freshest, best cake possible.

If the bakery from which you procure cakes bakes them ahead of time and gives them to you a day later (or, god forbid, two days later), walk away. If a bakery refrigerates sponge cakes, run away. Note: These rules do not apply to custom-decorated wedding cakes, which tend to be more labor-intensive to create and are not really about flavor anyway

The best, freshest cakes are positively irresistible, so storage won't be so much of an issue. They'll be gone before you know it!

Store at Room Temperature

If you bake or buy a freshly-baked cake one night with plans to serve it the following day, you should be fine with storing it in its box, or in a sealed plastic container.

If you want to be particularly diligent about keeping your cake fresh, store it in a positively airtight container. If it came in a nice cardboard box that you don't want to undo, wrap the box in plastic wrap. If you made the cake, seal it in a plastic cake storage container.

Store your cake at room temperature and keep it out of the direct sun and away from any major heat sources that might melt the icing.

How to I store cakes for longer periods of time?

A sponge cake can be stored in a sealed, airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. I have friends who have accepted gifts of cake from me who have nommed on them for many days afterward (up to five).

If you're worried about cakes getting moldy, don't. I've kept cupcakes around to see what happens to them, and they don't grow mould. They just dry out and harden. They actually become rather cute fossils that make for excellent projectile weapons (nobody would expect a cupcake you hurl at them to be as hard as a rock, which makes your attack all the more surprising and wonderfully painful).

For Long Term Storage: Freeze

If you know that you want to serve a cake more than three days after its baking, seal it in an airtight container and freeze it. When you're ready to eat it, let it slowly thaw at room temperature.

Freezing helps seal the moisture in whereas refrigerating dries things out. The area of any cake that is most negatively impacted by freezing is the icing, as it does not thaw out looking as perky as it did when it was first applied. That said, freezing results in a far more tasty cake than one that has gone stale- either at room temperature or in a refrigerator.

More by this Author

  • How to Decrystalize Honey Fast

    Here's how to decrystallize honey fast in small and medium batches- no pan or microwave needed. This method is great if you have crystallized honey, but don't want to decrystallize an entire jar, or are dealing with...

  • 10 Tips on Baking with Silicone Molds

    Interested in using silicone baking molds? Check out my simple tips and tricks to be sure you're making the most of these convenient kitchen tools.

Comments 74 comments

Ancillotti profile image

Ancillotti 5 years ago from Brasil, Vitoria - ES

Hello, Simone!

Great Hub! When I started dating all the cakes we bought or earned went straight to the refrigerator until my girlfriend saw this and told them to stop this habit immediately. Really, keep them out of the refrigerator maintains its delicious flavor and fluffy mass, contrary to what happens if you cool them.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks Ancillotti! Sounds like your girlfriend knows what she's doing! Glad you're taking good care of your cakes now - you're so right; keeping cakes fridge-free does everything to maintain flavor and fluffiness!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

I did not know until a few days ago watching a Dr. Oz show that bread should not be refrigerated. We have always done that. Guess it makes sense that if bread should not be refrigerated, cake should not be either. Thanks for confirming this theory. Guess that is why people several generations ago had bread boxes on their counters! Useful info!

SilverGenes 5 years ago

It sounds very reasonable to me, too. Bread goes all hard, stale and nasty in the fridge so why not cake? Besides, it never lasts long around our house anyway hehehe. Love the great photos - that's a wild looking cake at the top! Thanks for a great hub :)

dearabbysmom profile image

dearabbysmom 5 years ago from Indiana

A local bakery keeps their cakes in the fridge. I had noticed that the leftovers tasted better a day or two later, after sitting out on the counter. Now I know why!

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Simone, I, up to now have stored cakes in the fridge. I won't anymore. Air-tight plastic storage from now on. Love the rainbow cake.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Oh how interesting, Peggy W! I did not realize that more people refrigerated bread, as well. Well, I'm glad you're considering a chance in that line of food storage- though I certainly understand your original line of reasoning. I'm honestly tempted to store nearly EVERYTHING in my fridge.

And I'm glad to hear cake doesn't last long in your house, SilverGenes- that's always a good sign!

Yikes, dearabbysmom! I hope those are all cheesecakes that bakery is refrigerating... I'm glad you're leaving those leftovers out :D

And thanks for making the switch, KoffeeKlatch Gals! On behalf of all sponge cakes, I thank you.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Terrific hub. Love the "Bake Fresh and Eat" instructions. I may have just enough time this afternoon... bye for now!

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Great post!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks y'all! Hope you got to bake something delicious, RTalloni!

dfh financial solutions 5 years ago

Oh how interesting, Peggy W! I did not realize that more people refrigerated bread, as well. Well, I'm glad you're considering a chance in that line of food storage- though I certainly understand your original line of reasoning. I'm honestly tempted to store nearly EVERYTHING in my fridge.

Satu 5 years ago

Thanks for this post! I'm making a wedding cake of three sponge layers and didn't want to do it all on the same day in case I had to re-do something or I made a mess torting the layers. This helped so much, and there is now a sponge cake in a cake tin waiting for Saturday. :)

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Refrigeration is one of the least recognized addictions, but it exists nonetheless!

And wow!!! I hope the cake comes out perfect, Satu!!

Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 5 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

So THAT'S what was wrong with my cake! Thank you!

frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

Great info here, and your cupcakes are just BEAUTIFUL - all so bright and colorful! I did not know about not refrigerating cakes...did know not to refrig bread. However when I freeze a cake I put on a glaze frosting to cover, then a decorative frosting after it has been thawed. Comes out perfect that way. Thanks for sharing info!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Alas, the cupcakes featured in this article are not mine! All the ones I decorated back in my cupcake shop days were not photographed. Which I really regret now!

That's a VERY smart trick with freezing cakes! The icing is typically the one thing that doesn't survive the process, so it makes perfect sense to just glaze it and then re-ice after thawing. Thanks for sharing that one!

ratnaveera profile image

ratnaveera 4 years ago from Cumbum

Many people may think that refrigerators can be used to store cakes. I have learned from this article storing at room temperatures at airtight would only work good for cakes. Thanks a lot Simone Smith for sharing this Great information!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

I'm happy to do anything I can to spare perfectly good cakes from the terrible doom that is refrigeration, ratnaveera!

kayyluh profile image

kayyluh 4 years ago

Great hub Simone! I really enjoyed reading it, I have learned my lesson from putting cake into the fridge! I will deifinitly have to buy some air tight containers next time. Thanks for sharing this with us! Keep up the good work :)voted up and useful:)

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

kayyluh, I am very glad to hear that there will be no future refrigerated cakes in your life!

angela 4 years ago

I have a Tea garden I serve drinks and cakes from a summer house in the garden on a very hot day will my cakes go soggy can I put them in A cool fridge if so at what temperture. Many Thanks Angela

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi Angela! What I recommend is keeping them in a cool place- possibly a cellar or a dark cabinet- until they're ready to be served. If they have icing that starts to run, though, and it's getting so hot that they're still getting ruined even in the coolest spots in your house, then consider putting them into a cooler that has some ice in it, but is not actively blowing around cool air.

beth 4 years ago

this is helpful to me and i appreciate.dint know of any other way of storing sponge cakes,yet the fridge always dissapointed.cudos!

Cho 4 years ago

My god, this, was an amazing piece of writing and source of information. Made me laugh too. Thankyou soo much :D x

Nica 4 years ago

WOW.. very informative topic ma'am. very helpful because i'm a newbie in baking.

I used to bake cake and refrigerate(chillers) it overnight. I found it more tasty but I got your point on drying out the sponge. Should the freezing make the trick?

cynthia 4 years ago

Thanks for the advice. I have a cupcake order for a wedding and the bride wants four different but flavors. I am so glad I can make a couple days ahead and store in an airtight container. I live in a two bedroom apartment and the fridge is the not the normal size....storing the cupcakes as you suggested leaves more room to store the cream cheese icing....I plan to ice the cupcakes at the venue....thanks again...^_^

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Smart move, Cynthia! And icing cupcakes at the venue will indeed be a good move. It'll make the transfer FAR less stressful!

Kaila 4 years ago

Very informative, thank you. I recently went to a local bakery and ordered a coconut cupcake. It was so hard and dry, I couldn't even cut it with a butter knife. When I told one of the employees that the cupcake was dry she said, "oh, there's nothing wrong with the cupcake, it's just cold because it's refrigerated." I guess the baker was not in class when the teacher taught them "how to store cakes".

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Yeah Kaila, it seems as though much attention goes into prep and much less into preservation! Then again, the "masters" all assume that desserts are to be consumed just hours after they've been prepared (for the most part) and this is of course ideal. :D

Lisa 4 years ago

Hi, Simone. I made spongecake for an event at work which I thought was tomorrow (Monday) but is actually this coming Friday, due to a change in plans. The layers are for a tres leches cake. I didn't ice them yet, thank goodness. Would it be ok for me to freeze the layers in an airtight container and thaw them Thursday evening? I wouldn't want them to taste too horrific.

Taryn 4 years ago

Thanks so much, Simone! What about a cake with a fresh fruit filling? Or any fruit filling? With only my husband and I (and many dieters at the office) we don't always finish a cake in one go. Also, does it matter if the icing is made from butter rather than shortening? I've also seen some icing recipes call for eggs. I'm a little new to the homemade cake thing. Thanks for all your help!

Sharon49 4 years ago

Hi. I just opened a cupcake shop where I also bake sugar cookies, brownies, biscotti, macaroons, etc. I've been putting my cupcakes in the fridge at night when I leave. There is a bakery display case in the shop that is not working and I had scheduled to have it repaired. Am I to understand that I do not need to have it fixed because my cupcakes/cookies/brownies, etc. are best at room temperature? What about when it's hot outside? Our shop is slow right now due to its location and newness, so, how long are my cupcakes "safe" for consumption? Thanks!

ravi dutta 4 years ago

hey hi

hello me wanna opena bakery shop plz helpme to start gave me recepies about bakery shop

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hey Taryn! I would try to order the smallest fruit cakes you possibly can, since they don't freeze so well. Or share them with more friends!

Sharon49, if you're keeping your cakes to the next day, you might be required to refrigerate them. I don't know quite how food regulations go. At the cupcake shop where I worked, all that was not sold that day was discarded.

You're on your own, ravi dutta! I'm afraid I only have tips on storing cucpcakes- no particularly special recipes.

sandy 4 years ago

Hi Simone...unfortunately I read this brilliant article after baking red velvet cupcakes and putting them in fridge for storage. Needless to say they are hard and dry this this morning. Will they regain some of the pre-refridgeration texture if left out of the fridge now.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Ah well, I bet they're still yummy! And you'll know to avoid doing that next time!

Nichole Martin 4 years ago

I made pancake cupcakes with candied bacon in center and peanut butter maple buttercream at about 6 pm. I put them in an airtight comtainer. Should i put the fridge because they are for tomorrow or will the bacon be ok?

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

Hi Simone! This is a great information to share. I have been working for many years before in a cafeteria, who were making their own cakes and breads here in Germany and it was there I learned how to bake, store cakes and breads. Just the way you have written here. Voted up and useful.

Andrea 4 years ago

Wow, what a fabulous article! I wish I had read this 2 months ago when I made a 6 layer rainbow cake and I needed to store the layers overnight. A local baker told me to refrigerate the layers so the cake was cold and the icing warm when icing it the next day. The only problem is my cake got very dry. Do you have any suggestions should I do the same cake again? Also, how long does it take for cake to dry out in the fridge? Today I iced a cake and put it inside the fridge in it's covered cake platter and was paranoid it was going to get dry. Should icing stop the dryness at least for a while? Loved your article!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Yikes Nichole Martin- sorry I didn't check my comments earlier. I hope everything came out OK!

Thanks for the kind words Thelma Alberts! Glad to know we have the same approach- it does seem to be the best way to go, though I'm surprised by the number of bakeries that refrigerate their goods.

Wow Andrea, that six layer rainbow cake sounds like da bomb! If you were to do the same cake again, I'd recommend wrapping each layer in plastic wrap if you need to store it over night before icing. The icing can protect the cake from dryness for a while, maybe, but the best thing is to avoid refrigeration altogether- unless you think the icing is going to melt away in the heat, of course!

Sierra 4 years ago

So I am making cupcakes for my brothers graduation party in on Friday. I am making three batches of minis and since time is cramped because of schooling, I don't have time to make them in one day. Would you suggest me freezing them so that they stay fresh or just letting them sit out on the counter until its served on Friday night?

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

I would put them in a sealed container and leave them at room temperature.

Rachell 4 years ago

I found a recipe that said to refrigerate the cake for 2hrs (after poking holes & applying lemon glaze) & then frost...will the cake be ok for my coworkers tomorrow?

Ruby 4 years ago

hi simeone i was so glad that i've read your advice on how t store cakes and cupcake. i am g to open my cupcake store soon my problem is i already bought a cake chiller for my cupcakes. I thought that its a good idea to store them in a chiller.. what can you advice? thanks

lemonkerdz profile image

lemonkerdz 3 years ago from TRUJILLO, PERU

Hey there. Thanks a lot for this great hub. From my very first job as a baker to a passionate home baker, I found this very useful. And so so true. Cake in the fridge is a BAD idea. Thanks again.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

I'm so glad you've found this Hub to be useful, lmonkerdz! Thanks for reading. :D

Lauren 3 years ago

Hi! I need to store a cake for 4 days. Which way do you prefer to keep it fresh, room temperature or freezing? I'm only gonna store it for 4 days.


Jessica 3 years ago

Hi! I live in country with a tropical weather that is a 100° almost everyday and the buttercream melts at room temperature, in this case should I refrigerate the cupcakes? thanks

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Wow, that's intense, Jessica! I suppose in those conditions, you have no choice but to do so! Try to make the cake as close to serving it as possible, so as to minimize refrigeration time.

ExpectGreatThings profile image

ExpectGreatThings 3 years ago from Illinois

Now I am craving cake. And I'm certain that I would store it with the "bake fresh and EAT" method :). I confess that I'm guilty of refrigerating cakes. I will never do it again. Thank you for writing this hub!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Nothing beats the "bake fresh and EAT" method, ExpectGreatThings! Glad I've brought an end to your refrigeration habits. :D

Rabel 3 years ago

But how do we store a cake with whipped cream or creamcheese on it?

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Same way- just try to serve the cake quickly after icing it. You might even consider icing it right before serving, even if you bake the cake ahead of time.

Jasper 3 years ago

Thank you for this great advice, however I have a specific question: I am about to buy a small 1-metre in length refrigerated display case for my Italian cafe with the hope to put in cupcakes/muffins/choc cake & tiramisu cups etc. The display model is actually called a 'cake display' and sits at 9-degrees celcius & 12-degrees-celcius. I live in tropical Australia where humidity is high and the display cabinet is not inside in air-con, it is an open-fronted shop so I can't have my cakes out in the humid air. So, after all that background, and I am not asking you if I should buy this display cake or not (!), but in your experience, if the cakes are sitting in this display with the temp range between 9-degrees celcius & 12-degrees celcius, then they shouldn't go all hard and dry as they would in a fridge that is 4-degrees celcius and under, and how you describe, right? I await your thoughts, and thanks again for your contribution here. Jasper

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi Jasper,

Since the humidity is so high in your area, it sounds as though you don't have a choice but to use a refrigerated display! It sounds as though the temperatures are not so low as to really dry out your cakes, though I would still try to not leave them there for too long- the sooner they sell (and are consumed), the better!

ruppster02 3 years ago

This is a great article! Lots of good advice that i never knew about. I actually came online to see if i should/could freeze a cake, not frosted, till friday. Im making a baby shower cake for saturday, 5 days away, and made the cakes today, should i freeze then till friday when i plan to decorate?/ how should i wrap them?? thanks :)

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Sorry for taking too long to respond, ruppster02! Though I imagine my advice comes too late, I recommend freezing the cakes (unfrosted), wrapped in plastic wrap, and very securely sealed. I would not ice the thawed cakes until they have fully returned to room temperature.

That said, it is ideal if the cake can just be made the day of. It might even be worth just using boxed mixes if you're in a rush- folks really can't tell the difference unless you have a very unique signature recipe with which others are already familiar.

maxwell martyn 3 years ago

Hi fellow cake lovers, just a quickie, I bought two cakes earlier from the store, forgetting they needed to be defrosted before eating. First cake, I tried defrosting in the microwave, obviously a fail. Second cake; removed from packaging and left in the fridge, will my cake slide and make a mess all over my fridge? Please help :):):)

AshM 3 years ago

Really helpful post...just stumbled on a local bakery that's only open 3/7, so.....

Sarah 3 years ago

Great advice. I never put cake or cupcakes in the refrigerator, and always try to bake and eat. However, if I can't make cupcakes the day I am serving them I make them the night before. I let them cool for 1-2 hours, and then put them in an airtight container in a cool dark place. I pride myself in my moist cupcakes and they are definitely moist. The problem I run into is they sweat and get oily. This does not effect the taste but it effects the cupcake liner and if I frost ahead of time the frosting as well. I don't like it at all, but can not figure out how to avoid this. Any advice? Thanks!

toptenluxury profile image

toptenluxury 3 years ago from Cedartown, GA

I always feel like I have problem with storing cakes. I Loose so much of the quality of the cake when I store my cakes. Thanks for the help and the advice! Voted up!

halfpintohoney profile image

halfpintohoney 2 years ago from Nova Scotia

I'm glad someone said it, lol. It frustrates me more, than when someone puts my cake in the fridge. They think I'm weird!!

ann englis 2 years ago

my sourcream cake was baked monday still has some on table is it still good to eat. please Rsp

Esther  Strong profile image

Esther Strong 2 years ago from UK

This is good to know. I too store just about everything in the fridge! Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this subject.

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 2 years ago

Simone - Thanks for a great hub! I have always stored cake in the refrigerator, because it just seemed like the right thing to do. I appreciate hearing from a professional on how it should be done. Voted up.

Jenn 2 years ago

Hi Simone,

Teriffic post! :) who knew!

I actually purchased a cake yesterday and hurried home placing it in the refrigerator over night, I'm planning to store the cake for up to 3 days, its a vanilla sponge cake covered in fondant icing. After reading your post i placed the cake in the airtight container at room temperature.

Would the sponge already have started to dry up from refrigerating?

Alexandra R 20 months ago


I strongly feel this way as well, I hate refridgerated cupcakes!!! So my question is... I am going to be selling my cupcakes in a coffee shop and I will not be there all day but I will come in the mornings to restocke, what should we do with cupcakes that do not sell at the end of the night?

Sam 19 months ago

I put my sponge cake in refrigerator two days ago I need to take it to my friend house after five days I don't know what. To do

Remmy 16 months ago

what is the cake preservative

Michelle 14 months ago

Excellent post. But one question though. For displaying bake products, which is bette, the Dry display showcase or the refrigerated display showcas? Thanks so much for your advice.

dilshade anooar 13 months ago

Hi I have just finish decorating a cake but I did put filling this morning it was long life cream n jam but I don't have space in the fridge coz it's such a big cake ..can I leave it out until tomorrow

Gail 3 months ago

Should I keep cupcakes in iced in frigator when tacking somewhere tomorrow & frost there?

Adrienne 3 months ago

A sponge cake is one which the egg whites are separated from the yolks. The whites are beaten til stiff peaks form. The yolks are beaten til light color flour added and then folded into egg whites. What you are calling sponge cake is a butter cake. A sponge cake is similar to a angel cake except the whole egg is usef in the sponge.

Con 2 months ago

I made a pound cake for a party. Found out it was canceled for a week . How should I store it or can I?

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article