When I first launched my blog, I really wanted it to serve as a resource for bakers and brides, but it seems I have less and less time to document my process. That said, when a reader emailed with the following questions, I thought the least I could do is answer them here.
1. Should baked cake layers, unfilled, ever go in the freezer? I read conflicting opinions. If not, how early should I bake the cake layers?
You are absolutely right: There are conflicting opinions. I have a friend who swears she can taste a frozen cake a mile away. I also know a very well-respected cake designer who freezes her unfilled cakes after she bakes them. I’ll admit that my younger self may have even frozen a cake or two, but I would never do it now. For me, optimal taste and freshness are just as important as design, and I won’t compromise my culinary integrity by freezing a cake. I just can’t chance it.
So, here’s my timeline. Let’s assume I am making a fondant-covered cake for a Saturday wedding. I would:
- Bake my cakes as late as possible on Thursday afternoon and allow to cool for two hours
- Fill and crumbcoat on Thursday as soon as my cakes have cooled
- Refrigerate crumbcoated cakes until firm, then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight
- Early Friday, ice again with buttercream and refrigerate until firm
- Once firm, cover in fondant and refrigerate (yes, I refrigerate my fondant-covered cakes) until ready to decorate
Remember that fondant firms up and seals in the cake’s freshness. If I were using buttercream, I wouldn’t bake a cake for a Saturday wedding until Friday morning.
2. What is your favorite type of buttercream to use? Does one stand up in the heat best? I’ve been using Swiss meringue buttercream and it started melting at wedding.
My favorite type of buttercream is classic French buttercream. I use Rose Levy Berenbaum’s recipe from The Cake Bible, and it is absolutely heavenly. It does not, however, do well in the heat. I actually find that Swiss meringue buttercream is more stable, and does better in high temperatures. Still, I always recommend fondant because of its stability. Clients are often surprised by how pleasant fondant tastes–I always try to offer a fondant sample at my tastings–and since fondant firms up, guests who don’t like the taste or texture can easily peel it off. Also, because of the way wedding cakes are cut in concentric circles (see diagram below), only the servings on the outside ring will get fondant on the top and the sides. Slices from the inner circles will only have fondant on top.
If a client insists on buttercream–and some do–it is important that they know about any possible issues with melting. I have it written into my contract that it is the client’s responsibility to ensure that the cake is kept in a cool area away from direct sunlight.
I really enjoy hearing from readers, and am happy to answer all your questions, so keep ‘em coming. Best of luck in all your baking ventures.Read More