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Why freeze after baking?


Eat.Choui
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Hi eGullet,

Just to introduce myself, my name is Anna and am starting a career change to baking. I am currently interning at a local bakery that specializes in cakes.

A few days ago, I prepared and baked off a variety of cupcakes and was told to throw them right into the freezer after taking them out of the oven. My supervisor did not know why we have to do this, but it's the process that the bakery takes and we have to follow. Is there a reason behind freezing cupcakes that came straight out of the oven? I always thought it would produce a soggy cake if the cake was not cooled to room temperature before going into the freezer. Thank you in advance.

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One guess is that if you let something cool before it goes into the freezer it will loose some of its moisture to evaporation. If there is a very delicate balance of ingredients/liquids/solids/whatever, that short time could throw it off?

(let me warn you that I am not actually a professional, and this is pure speculation :)

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Well, I'm intrigued. It doesn't take that long for cupcakes to cool; surely the cake layers cool longer.

Is it all recipes they have you do this with the cupcake version versus when the same batter is baked off in layer cakes (round, square, any shape...)?

Usually with extra batter, we always bake off cupcakes, and I usually put them into airtight buckets lined top and bottom with deli paper and then freeze. This way I can get a few days (e.g., baking on Wednesday means I can have these cupcakes for Friday sale when the bulk of the impulse purchases or last minute purchases happen).

So, how long are you freezing them for? Overnight? Days? Do all your baked goods go in the freezer? Do you have more freezer space than cooler space? Inquiring minds want to know! :)

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Hi JeanneCake,

All cupcakes are put in to the freezer immediately when when they come out of the oven. All baked goods go into the freezer and used within about 3 days. So they stay in the freezer until needed. And the freezer is bigger than the refrigerator. Is this a normal practice in a cake bakery? I used to work in a cafe awhile back, but the pastries and sheet cakes are usually made and and served the day they are made.

When the cakes are cut, layered, and finished, they are quite delicious. So, I'm assuming quality is retained and not lost during freezing.

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Putting ANYTHING hot in the freezer is retarded, period. The point of freezing cakes (as supposed to refrigerating) is that there is little to no moisture transfer to affect the texture of the cake. Of course when you put something hot in the freezer, even a walk-in, it raises the temperature dramatically, and encourages massive moisture transfer through steam, condensation and frosting. Its an indefensible practice, you should probably find a better bakery to work in where you aren't more concerned about the product quality than the chef. ;)

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Freezer storage is less drying than refrigerator storage I'm told (I have no idea why this is); perhaps because there's more freezer space it is easier to store things there and then have the cooler for finished goods. Three days is not a lot of time for a cake layer but perhaps they found that the cupcakes dry out faster if they are not frozen. I don't have a lot of freezer space so I use the freezer as a tool to help with production - I can put a cake in progress in the freezer to firm up a very soft buttercream so I can put the next layer of cake on without squishing the buttercream, or if I want a buttercream dam to be very firm before filling... or if someone cancels an order that I haven't assembled yet I can put the layers in the freezer to use for samples later or if someone else calls with an emergency order ;) But mostly my freezer is for storing fruit purees, unbaked cookie dough, nuts, and firming up cheesecake lollipops!

So it isn't that unusual to freeze cakes or cupcakes; but I am not militant about they'd have to be in the freezer before they cool.

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Freezer storage is less drying than refrigerator storage I'm told (I have no idea why this is);

I don't feel like copying it all out right now, but Harold McGee says that (at least in bread) staling happens much faster at just above freezing (refrigerator temp) than at room temp or frozen. Things happen to the starches to make them hard and taste stale. So you really don't want to be storing your baked goods in the fridge.

Sounds like the 'must immediately freeze cupcakes' thing is just a quirk.

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Thank you for all of your responses!

It is probably just a quirk.

Sethro, a number of interns have questioned the quality of this place because we do take a few "shortcuts." But since this is the first time I am working at a cake bakery, I assumed it may be normal practice. In the bakery's defense, they do know what they are using and how to use them well. I wish they would explain why, but I guess that's why it's an internship and not school. This place does excel at frostings and and fillings and making cakes look pretty :D

Again, thank you!

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Can I make a wild guess? I dun think all this have anything to do with the cake. -i simply think that its just merely that ur chefs wants to get them packed and stored away as u go so that to save time. From where I work, we make cakes and when the cakes are just baked off, we roll the whole trolley straight to the big walk in fridge to make space so we can move on to baking other cakes. And as we go, apprentice like me would be packing the chilled cakes straight off and put in freezer for use when needed. This do not affect the texture of the cake and I think its totally normal if u want to be organised and fast! The biggest flaw in a kitchen, I reckon is to leave baked good laying around. Its so messy! So dun worry, I dun think ur workplace is doing anything dodgy. Hehehehe

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  • 2 weeks later...

i'm a home baker but i read a lot of cake blogs and forums, and a lot of people wrap cakes in plastic wrap almost immediately after they come out of the oven and stick them in the freezer. any condensation gets absorbed by the cake and makes the cake a lot moister after its defrosted

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It is my understanding that cake layers are frozen to aid in the decorating process. A frozen then thawed cake layer is more stable, has a tighter crumb, and will throw off fewer crumbs as it is iced. Dunno why you'd freeze baked goods other than cakes intended for decorating.

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Yes for cake layers freezing is an excellent practice, a frozen/half-frozen sheet of sponge is very easy to cut, and you can get just the right shape you want.

As for the cupcakes, to put them straight in to the freezer, first thing that pops in to my mind is a hygiene concern? The fastest way from bacterial growing temperatures to below them is in the freezer, but as a rule-of-thumb you should never put anything in the freezer that is still hot, as said before it will raise the temperature, and the problem is that if the freezer isn't high-powered enough it would theoretically cause vaporization and then cause condensation, and then it would freeze which would result in big crystals forming in or on the cupcakes... This is not the case in... your case though?

edit: When you take the cupcakes out are they moist of soggy on top?

Edited by Karri (log)

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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