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Freezing Cakes


ryangary
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And sure there's plenty of moisture inside the cake that re-distributes with freezing and thawing. And you are correct that the very carmelized top skin can become swampy and yes that moisture comes from within the cake. And this is a desired result so that the rest of the outside crust of the cake remoistens after baking. But you always cut off that swampy mess on top.

and that's why you're exactly right and why i said to kim that it doesn't matter if the tops of the cupcake get swampy because she's icing the tops anyway :wink:

as you said, more than one way to skin a cake!

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  • 1 month later...

I read somewhere online that freezing a warm cake after wrapping tightly would make for a very moist cake when defrosted. I can't find the source and of course, everything I google says "cool completely prior to freezing" which I have always done. Am I imagining this bit of info?

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Wrapping a warm cake will certainly prevent it from loosing moisture as it cools . I don't know if freezing will improve moisture retention or not.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Sure some people do this because it steams the cake a bit. If the heat can't get out condensation forms. But of course the moisture level of any cake re-distributes evenly when wrapped well and refrigerated or frozen. If the cake is hot it adds some condensation as well. So yeah it's a bit moister.

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All I know is whenever I have accidentally left my cakes in the oven a tad too long, I bang them out of the pans and wrap them as hot as possible, hoping that that will undo my mistake. It probably helps somewhat (I hope), but an overbaked cake is still an overbaked cake.......sigh. :sad:

One thing though......if you wrap them warm and freeze them, it does not affect them negatively.

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I'm curious about the food safety issue, and it may be valuable if someone wants to take it on is an informative, open dialogue. It reminds me of the debate regarding non-stick cookware - educated people will disagree. You can do a quick search at the top of the page to find a handful of discussions on this topic throughout eGullet.

This specific topic is more about moisture levels (just a friendly reminder).

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I got to attend ICES' big yearly convention once (Intermational Cake Society) and some lady there was saying she did this in her shop. (I'm not saying ICES supports this or not just that's where I heard about it.) Wrapped up brand new hot cake and froze it. I have heard this recommended by many different people since then.

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I am less concerned about the safety aspect than quality. The cake I had in mind would be refrigerated as it is filled with whipped cream and raspberries and iced with whipped ganache. I had not considered the effect of heat on the plastic wrap but would not be doing this regularly so think anything harmful absorbed by the cake would be of minimal consequence. Hope so anyway!

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I am less concerned about the safety aspect than quality.  The cake I had in mind would be refrigerated as it is filled with whipped cream and raspberries and iced with whipped ganache.  I had not considered the effect of heat on the plastic wrap but would not be doing this regularly so think anything harmful absorbed by the cake would be of minimal consequence.  Hope so anyway!

Well, unless something has changed since the last time I researched this issue, I dont think there is any generally accepted scientific evidence supporting such worries. There is an urban legend that has floated around for a long time, that microwaving foods in plastic can cause dioxin to migrate into the food. That's not true, according to the FDA, since plastic wrap does not contain dioxins to begin with.

http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2002/602_plastic.html

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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You probably heard about the method on Sugarcraft or Sugar Buzz or one of the other cake decorating boards. You need to bear in mind that the majority of people contibuting to those boards, aside from generally being very nice well intentioned and helpful people, have no formal food training and absolutely no respect or concern for food safety. It's too hard to do things right, or too complicated, or too time consuming, or will cost more, so the majority of them refuse to acknowledge that food safety concerns exist. Having said that, most of those same people do sell cakes for a living, so they consider themselves "professionals," when in fact they have no business giving out "professional" advice regarding food safety. But they do it anyways. That's most of them, not all. Nice people with the best of intentions, but you really have to question everything you read on boards like those.

Aside from the safety concerns raised by others thus far, there are two problems with wrapping a hot cake tightly with plastic wrap then freezing it that haven't been mentioned:

1) You will misshape your cake while wrapping it, and it will never return to exactly the shape of your pan when you thaw it.

2) The added moisture content in your cake will invariably result in a soggy, or soggier, cake crumb, and that moisture will transfer to the buttercreams or other fillings in your finished cake, making them turn slimy/goopy/runny more quickly and then your cake falls apart or shifts when agitated.

Hope that helps.

Edited to add: You really do need to thoroughly cool the cake at room temp slowly over the course of several hours to allow the steam to escape at its own rate, and that'll give you the correct moisture content you're supposed to have so long as you didn't overbake. That makes for cakes that hold up like new for several days, instead of cakes that start looking or tasting several days old after several days.

Edited by Sugarella (log)
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In the interests of science, combatting boredom, and cleaning out useless clutter from the cupboard, I baked up a cake mix to try to quantify what effect wrapping while warm had on moisture retention and cooling time. The cake mix was a Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe French Vanilla. The batter was divided evenly (exactly 525g each) into 2 9" identical cake pans and baked at 350F for 35 minutes.

Right out of the oven, I took the internal temperature of both cakes, in the middle about 1/2" down. Both were 186F. After letting both cakes set on a baking sheet for 4 minutes, I unmolded one onto a cooling rack on the kitchen table. The other was wrapped in two sheets of Saran Wrap, and also set on a cooling rack on the kitchen table.

I checked the internal temperature every so often. At 30min out of the oven, the wrapped cake was 123F, compared to 113F in the unwrapped. At 65 min, the temps were 98F and 89F. At 120min, the temps were 86F and 78F. At 140min, the temps were 80F and 77F, close of enough to my kitchen temp that I stopped checking.

At 154min, I unwrapped the wrapped cake and weighed both cakes. The cake that had been wrapped weighed 479g, and the one that hadn't been wrapped weighed 467g. So, the wrapped cake retained 12ml more water, a little more than two teaspoons.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Love your experiment Patrick!

When I wrap my warm cakes, I stick them in the freezer immediately. (Ok, yes, I know this taxes the freezer). One would assume that a wrapped cake in the freezer would cool down much faster than an unwrapped cake at room temperature. Based on what I know about food safety and the importance of rapid cooling, wouldn't the wrapped cake in the freezer be "technically" safer than the unwrapped cake at room temp? I mean, the unwrapped cake spends more time in the temperature "danger zone" (45-140 degrees F) than the wrapped cake in the freezer, so I must ask, how can the wrapped cake in the freezer be unsafe?

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If I read correctly, Patrick is just saying that you can still keep a warm-sealed cake in the freezer, just for not as long as a cool-sealed cake. Basically the same trade we make for everything else - can't freeze meat as long as nut paste for example.

It seems the health hazard is only if the chef thinks he or she can keep the warm-sealed cake in the freezer as long as he or she keeps the cool-sealed cake. In that respect, the info from the food scientist is very useful.

Edited by ejw50 (log)
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Alrighty, I've had a dog walk to digest all of this info. It seems to me that if we're wanting to increase the moisture of a cake, the water content would be the least stable and sustaining of our possibilities.

Again, health issues aside for a moment, whether I wrap my cake in plastic or not, once exposed to air, the water is going to evaporate at a relatively quick pace.

If we looked, however, at the oil in the cake (butter, vegetable, canola, etc) that would seem to have a more lasting, stable moisturizing effect. For example - look at a genois versus a zucchini loaf. So it would be interesting to measure the difference in fats. What if you added coconut oil, palm oil, nut oils, etc.? Would any of these options have a more lasting effect on the moisture of a cake and have minimal or no flavor impact.

This also makes me wonder about true moisture versus perceived (mouthfeel) moisture...but I'll stop.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm curious as to what food safety concerns we're talking about here? The issue with the plastic wrap touching hot cakes and thus possibly producing dioxins? Or are we talking bacterial/mold growth?

As for plastics touching hot cakes, if you immediately unmold the cake right away after taking it out of the oven and wrapping it right away, there might be a possibility of dioxins being released by the plastic wrap (the verdict is still out there on this issue, right?). But isn't what's more the issue is that such a hot cake might even melt the plastic wrap? Isn't that even worse than the possibility of dioxins?

If you wait a few minutes after the cake has been taken out of the oven (which is wiser anyways because you want the structure to set up), the temperature is low enough that the chances of dioxins leaching into your food are quite low.

And I agree with Sugarella's post that the cake would most likely get misshapen if you wrapped a hot cake, and I think that's much worse than a slightly dry cake.

As for bacterial growth, that really is not much of a concern here.

K8memphis' technique of adding a soaking syrup is still the best method. I question the wrapping a hot cake method; the moisture retention might not be even--maybe more moist in the center.

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I'm curious as to what food safety concerns we're talking about here?  The issue with the plastic wrap touching hot cakes and thus possibly producing dioxins?  Or are we talking bacterial/mold growth? 

As for plastics touching hot cakes, if you immediately unmold the cake right away after taking it out of the oven and wrapping it right away, there might be a possibility of dioxins being released by the plastic wrap (the verdict is still out there on this issue, right?).

No, the verdict has been in for years -- plastic wraps do not contain dioxins and therefore can not leach them into food. Further, most wraps are made of polyethylene or polypropylene, which do not contain chlorine and do not produce dioxins even when incinerated.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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  • 9 years later...
4 hours ago, FrogPrincesse said:

Can you freeze a cake before baking it? I had a cake all ready to go, and then my Miele oven decided to... do a little impromptu fireworks show... !!! :D

 

This is a basic marble cake with baking powder in it.

 

It might be worth a try to salvage your ingredients, effort and time in your emergency, but I have never heard of doing it that way. The consensus on Chowhound is that it won't work.

 

Others think differently, and as long as your cake is not depending on whipped egg whites, this site and others say it will work. I would give it a try, and please report back with the results.

 

I'm glad you weren't injured in the "fireworks show"! I have had an electric element in the oven and one on the stove top provide unwanted pyrotechnics, and that is scary! The one in the oven was contained and very loud and startling, but the stove top one threw superheated shrapnel across the kitchen. By some stroke of luck, I was fetching an ingredient from the pantry/laundry room off the kitchen when it happened. :o

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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@Thanks for the CrepesThanks for the reply! 

I didn't have much choice unfortunately. I contacted a few neighbors but the first ones haven't had a functioning oven for years (no idea how they survive - I use mine every day), and the others weren't home. So the unbaked cake went in the freezer and I am keeping my fingers crossed. There were egg whites but the batter was rather dense overall. Some people in this thread (for example the second post in the discussion) mentioned freezing molten chocolate cakes unbaked, so I remain hopeful for now... The uncooked batter tastes really good and my daughter was trying to convince me to eat it as is!!! :)

 

Edited by FrogPrincesse
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I used to freeze cake batter. I'd freeze it in a ziplock bag, defrost overnight when I needed it, then pour into a pan and bake. Never had a problem with it. Only did it with plain cakes, as mentioned above, nothing that needed whipped egg whites or anything, you'd most likely lose all that volume, but try it, let us know how it works. One of the first threads I ever started on eGullet (so many years ago) was about freezing cake batter. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
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