Anyone who has ever taken pride in baking a cake from scratch remembers the feeling of pulling it out of the oven at the exact right moment. The smell alone will make you melt, whether it’s a simple vanilla birthday cake or molten lava filled dish of decadence.
There are many reasons you might have to store your cake before serving it. For example, if you’re planning on decorating it, or if you’re baking ahead of time because you’ve got multiple cakes to prepare, you may find yourself with cold cakes.
Cold cake is never the most satisfying to eat, even if it does have practical purposes. If you’re wondering just how exactly you go about reheating your cake, now that is baked to perfection, we’ve got you covered.
In order to avoid throwing off the delicate moisture level, the best way to reheat a cake is slowly and carefully, starting with a cold oven and turning it up to 250 degrees allowing it to heat for a maximum of 15 minutes.
Before you get to the reheating, however, there are a few strategies you can use in prepping your cake for ideal storage, and then getting it back to freshly baked warmth on the day of serving.
Keeping Your Freshly Baked Cake Fresh
To make sure you get the freshest cake taste and texture, let’s talk about proper cake storage.
If you’re baking your cake in advance, and you know you’re not going to be using it for a few days, it’s absolutely critical that you wrap it up correctly in order to seal in the freshness.
Wait until it’s completely cool to avoid creating steam and ending up with a soggy cake. Then use plastic wrap on all surfaces of your cake. This means don’t put it on a platter to wrap or in a container. You want to have a direct barrier to the air actually touching your cake.
For loaves or cupcakes you can use freezer bags with an airtight seal, just be sure to get as much air as possible out of the bag before zipping it shut.
Now you can leave your cake in a cool, dry room or in your fridge for a few days, at most. If you need more time, a cake will retain its freshness for up to 4 months in the freezer.
Before you think about warming it up again, make sure you bring a frozen cake to room temperature carefully, thawing it in your fridge before and then letting it sit in a cool or air-conditioned room before heating.
Frost Your Cake First For Perfect Moistness
If your frosting, fondant or icing is ready but you’re not planning on serving your cake immediately, you might want to consider decorating it before you seal it for storage.
The decoration on a cake acts much like plastic wrap, sealing in the moisture and protecting your cake from drying out due to exposure to the air.
Once frosted, your cake should stay fresh in a cake keeper or even under a large bowl for few days either in a dry, cool room at air temperature or in your fridge if there’s a lot of humidity or heat in your space.
You can even freeze a decorated cake, with the exception of whipped or boiled icings, which will lose their proper consistency when frozen.
Simple Steps To Reheating Homemade Cake
Once you’ve taken all the correct steps to store your cake, let’s talk about warming it up for serving.
There’s just something about a warm cake that oozes decadence, and it’s not quite the same with room temperature cake. You can use either your oven or your microwave, with the right techniques and a little patience.
Reheating A Cake In The Oven
If your cake feels too firm, it will definitely benefit from being warmed up, which should restore some of the moistness and soft, cakey texture. But it has to be done right or it will dry out instead.
You want to warm up your cake slowly. Place your cake on a foil-lined baking tray and start it in a cold oven. Bring it up to 250 degrees, but make sure you take it out just when it’s warm, not hot. We’re looking for warmed up cake, not twice-baked cake! It will take 15 minutes at most.
If you’re worried about losing the texture, you can take extra precautions by wrapping it in foil.
Using The Microwave To Warm Up Your Cake
Using a microwave to reheat your cake can be a great idea or a terrible idea, depending on your cake and how careful you are. Microwaves have a really unique ability to both dry things out and make them soggy. Since a perfect cake is dependent on the right level of moisture, you’re going to want to be vigilant.
If you leave a cake in the microwave for too long, you can end up with a chewy, leathery texture. Then again, it could end up soggy if you’re not careful.
So what’s the magic formula?
Less is more. For smaller cakes, start with medium heat in bursts of 20 – 30 seconds. If you’ve got a quite large cake, you can start with 30 – 45 seconds. Microwaves heat unevenly, so before going overboard and leaving your cake in too long, drying it out, let it sit for a minute to allow the heat to distribute evenly.
Using a microwave is a lot quicker than 15 minutes it will take in your oven, but it might require multiple short bursts to get just the right temperature. The constant attention can try your patience, even if it does end up taking only a single minute. Diligence is well worth it though!
Defrosting A Cake From Frozen
Working with a frozen cake isn’t much different from a fridge cooled cake. You basically have one extra step, and that’s to bring it to thaw completely before warming it up.
When you take it out of the freezer, leave it wrapped up and let it thaw in your fridge. If it cools too quickly, the temperature difference will create too much moisture and leave you with a soggy cake.
Once your cake is completely thawed, you can bring it to room temperature to frost and serve, or you can warm it up first, using one of the previously mentioned methods. It should taste just as fresh as the day it was baked!
Reheating Cakes With Filling
If your cake has a filling, such as creams, fruits, or molten chocolate, the reheating process will be much the same, but factor in the fact that your filling will heat up at a different rate as your cake.
Leave it in the oven or microwave too long, and it will burn your mouth when you eat it. If you don’t leave it in long enough, you’ll have a cold center. Unfortunately, timing will vary slightly depending on what’s inside your cake, and how much space is dedicated to the filling.
It’s best to carefully heat it up, and then let it sit for a minute or two to allow the heat to spread out evenly.
How do you moisten a cake after baking it?
If your cake comes out of the oven a bit too dry for your liking, you might be able to rescue it with a bit of a simple sugar syrup glaze. Mix equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Using a skewer, poke holes in the top of your cake to allow the syrup to soak in.
Slowly pour the syrup over the cake using a spoon and spread it out evenly with a pastry brush. You can also coat the sides of your cake, where the baking process has probably left some air holes to allow the syrup to soak in. Let it sit covered for a few hours before frosting or serving.
How long does homemade cake last?
A well-protected basic cake will stay fresh on your countertop, assuming your kitchen is cool and dry, for 3 – 4 days. If you’ve used fruit or cream-based filling or icing, it’s better to store in the fridge for freshness, where it will keep its freshness for about the same amount of time. You can also freeze your cake for up to 4 months.
Does cake need to be refrigerated?
Yes and no. A basic baked cake will be fine on your counter for 3 – 4 days, if it’s stored correctly. If there’s a lot of moisture and humidity in your air, or if your kitchen is quite warm, your cake will last longer in the fridge.
If you’ve used any fruit of cream in the filling or icing, it will only last 1 – 2 days on your counter, whereas it will keep nicely in your fridge for up to 4 days. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container to protect it from drying out.