In most cases, you can bake a cake ahead of time for birthdays, weddings, or other events. Here we’ll go over some helpful tips so you can know how many days in advance you can make a cake.
While there isn’t a one size fits all answer, there are a few tips to know that’ll help determine how far ahead can you make a cake.
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- Questions to ask yourself first:
- Determine when you’re going to serve the cake:
- Are you going to need to decorate the cake and how involved will that be?
- Do you just want to pre-bake the cake layers to save time later?
- Are you against freezing cakes, or worried about freezing them?
- Rule of thumb for freezing cakes and how far in advance to make them:
- FAQs & Tips:
- Other posts you might like:
Although it’s not super complicated, there are a few things to keep in mind before you determine exactly how early can you make or bake a cake.
Instead of just jumping in and giving a one-size-fits-all answer, it’s helpful to go through some things that will help you determine for yourself, how early you can make a cake.
Questions to ask yourself first:
These questions will help you start to determine when you can bake your cake:
- When are you going to be serving the cake?
- Is this a cake that will be decorated? If so, how many days will it take to do that? Is it really involved and will take a couple of days, or is it just a quick birthday cake that will take an hour or two to decorate?
- Are you just wanting to make it ahead of time because you won’t really have time to do it the day of, or the day before the event? (This is most often the case and a totally legit reason.)
- Are you completely against freezing baked cakes?
These are all things to consider before determining how far in advance you can bake your cake and we’ll go through these and what it means for your cake timeline.
Determine when you’re going to serve the cake:
You’ll obviously need to know when you’ll be serving the cake. Will it be next week? In a few days?
My general rule of thumb is if you won’t be serving the cake within three days of baking it, then it’s best to go ahead and freeze it, then defrost it a couple of days before you’ll serve it.
I am a big believer in freezing cakes, but if you don’t want to do that, then just bake it a couple of days ahead of time.
It’s not necessary to freeze a cake if you’ll be serving it in another couple of days.
We’ll talk a little more about freezing cakes later. For now, just determine what day you’ll serve the cake.
Are you going to need to decorate the cake and how involved will that be?
This question is one that a lot of people struggle with. Depending on how involved the cake design is, it could take several hours to several days to decorate it.
If you plan on serving the cake several days from the date you bake it, you don’t need to freeze it. Several days is fine for it to sit out at room temperature and be decorated.
Obviously though, if the cake has a perishable filling, it’ll have to be chilled through.
If you’re like me and want to get a head-start and work ahead, then freezing your cake layers is a must. Figure out your decorating timeline and determine how many days you’ll need to decorate the cake.
If it’s really involved and your timeline says you’ll need a couple of days to decorate it, then just defrost it the night before you need to start decorating it.
If your timeline says it’ll only take you several hours to decorate, then just wait to defrost it, or just bake it the night before.
When I was selling cakes, some of my cake designs would take several days to accomplish. One day would be filling and settling the cakes. The next would be to cover it in ganache and fondant, then another would be the actual decorating.
So none of that even included all the other stuff like actually baking the cakes, making the icing and making the decorations.
My point is, if you have a big design, you need a plan that’ll help you determine what day you can bake your cakes.
If it’s not a big cake project and more of a simple birthday cake, then you’ll probably only need a couple of hours to decorate it at most, so you don’t need to add days to your project timeline.
Do you just want to pre-bake the cake layers to save time later?
There is nothing wrong with this AT ALL. Actually, this is where I usually am on this list. I like to work ahead. It’s for my own sanity really. I’m not one to work under pressure…
I like to bake my cakes ahead of time, freeze them, then defrost them when I need them. It just saves so much time and I recommend it. If you freeze them correctly, you can’t tell they’ve been frozen.
For my best tips on freezing cakes, see this post: How to Freeze Cakes & Cupcakes
Are you against freezing cakes, or worried about freezing them?
I’ve been contacted by people who think they’re supposed to ALWAYS freeze cakes and I’ve also been contacted by people who are adamantly against freezing cakes.
First, you don’t HAVE to freeze cakes. If you’ll be serving the cake in a day or two, there’s just no need to freeze them. Just make sure they’re wrapped really well so that they don’t dry out.
If you’re adamantly against freezing cakes, then that’s okay too. I have to ask this question though… Have you tried it? I mean more than once?
I don’t just mean freezing the top tier from your wedding cake and defrosting it a year later. That’s really gross and most of the time that’s not actually a good representation of what a cake that’s been frozen actually tastes like.
I’m just saying you might want to try freezing cakes the CORRECT way and see how you like it. I’ve done it tons of times and it is such a time and sanity saver because, without it, you won’t really be able to work ahead. You’ll be baking your socks off days before the event.
If you want to give it a try, just one more time, you can find my tips on freezing cakes at this link: How to Freeze Cakes
Rule of thumb for freezing cakes and how far in advance to make them:
Remember that my general rule of thumb is if you won’t be serving the cake within three days of baking it, then it’s best to go ahead and freeze it, then defrost it a couple of days or the day before you’ll serve it.
Four days is pushing it…five days is not good.
(And just know that this is my opinion based on what has worked for me in the past…other cakers have different opinions, I’m sure.)
FAQs & Tips:
Yes, just make sure to cover the cake well until you serve so that it doesn’t dry out. If the cake has perishable frosting or filling, then you’ll need to store it in the fridge, but if it doesn’t, it’s likely fine to remain at room temperature, covered well.
For more tips on how to store a cake, see this post: How to Store a Cake
Generally yes, as long as you store it properly. Make sure that it’s a freshly baked cake and that you didn’t bake it days before you decorate it though. A cake generally needs to be served within 3-4 days from it being baked, or it’s just not very fresh.
Remember if you need to bake the cake earlier, you can always bake the cake layers, freeze them, then defrost them a couple of days before you’ll serve it so you’ll have time to decorate it.
You can bake a cake a couple of days before a party. If you need to make it earlier than that, it’s best to freeze the cake layers, then defrost them the day before or a couple of days before the party.
Wedding cakes take so much time to make and put together. The cake needs to be fresh when served, so it’s best that it’s served no later than about three days from the day it’s baked.
If the cake layers need to be baked earlier than that, it’s best to bake them and then freeze them. They can then be defrosted a couple of days before the event in order to give you time to decorate them.
Generally, yes you can as long as it’s stored properly. Three days is probably the maximum I would serve a cake at an event or party as, after that, the cake just starts to lose its freshness.
If you need to make the cake earlier than that, it’s best to freeze it and defrost it the day before or a couple of days before the event.
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