Whether you’re baking a cake for a celebration or because it’s simply a Wednesday (we don’t really need an excuse)…it’s likely that you won’t eat the whole cake all in one. To ensure that your cake remains as delicious as the day you baked it, we explain how long a cake can last in the fridge.
How long does cake last in the fridge?
In general, if the cake is kept covered, a homemade cake should last between 2-7 days in the fridge. But exactly how long a cake lasts in the fridge depends on a variety of factors, including how it is stored and what ingredients have been used. Ingredients such as fresh fruit contain a lot of moisture and will go soggy or mouldy quickly. An ingredient like traditional cream cheese frosting on red velvet or carrot cake is perishable and will spoil if left at room temperature for days. But put cream cheese frosted cakes in the fridge and they will remain safe to eat (especially important if the weather is hot, or your home is warm). For top cake storage points, the cake also needs to be stored in the fridge in an airtight container, or at the very least, covered up and separate from other foods.
How long does frosted cake last in the fridge?
A cake that is iced and/or filled with standard buttercream (butter and icing sugar) will keep for about 3 days out of the fridge at room temperature and this is extended to 5-7 days when the cake is covered in the fridge. Some buttercreams, such as French buttercream, are egg yolk based, so always have to be stored in the fridge.
If the cake has cream cheese in the frosting or the filling, then it needs to be refrigerated and will usually last about 5-6 days. Cream cheese needs to be kept at a cold temperature for food safety. Likewise, any cake with fresh cream needs to be safely stored in the fridge.
Shop-bought cake vs. homemade cake
A homemade cake lasts around 2-7 days in the fridge, but a shop-bought cake usually lasts longer because it has added preservatives. Generally, a shop-bought cake will last around 7-10 days. However, these estimates don’t take into account things like ingredients. A shop-bought fresh cream Victoria sponge obviously won’t last as long as homemade alcohol-infused Christmas cake.
How to keep cake fresh
You might think that putting your cake on a plate in the fridge is enough, especially if you’re in a rush. However, it’s really important to cover the cake. If you are going to be eating or transporting the cake fairly soon, cake boxes are handy as you can check on the cake through the box window. If you will be storing the cake in the fridge for a while, it’s important to understand that cakes lose moisture over time, especially in a fridge. By wrapping the cake in foil or cling film and then placing it in an airtight container you will be slowing that process down, keeping the cake fresher for longer.
How to tell if a cake has gone bad?
Even if you store your cake in the fridge, it’ll still go bad eventually, especially if it contains perishable ingredients like custard, cream and fresh fruit. The best way to tell if a cake has gone bad is to use your senses.
Firstly, ask yourself how long the cake has been stored in the fridge. That’ll give you an indication of the likelihood of the cake becoming stale.
Next, smell the cake. The eggs in the cake batter can smell unpleasant if the cake has gone off. An eggy or rotten egg smell is a sign that the cake shouldn’t be eaten. If you eat a bad cake by mistake, most likely, you’ll be fine. But there are cases of food poisoning from cakes as mould can be dangerous.
That leads us to the next step: look. Check to see if you can see any mould. Scrape away some of the frosting to inspect underneath as sometimes mould can grow in between the icing and the cake. But never scrape away mould and then eat the cake. The roots of the mould will run throughout the cake and they aren’t visible to the eye. Also look for a dry, crumbly texture and a hard exterior as this will signal that the cake is stale. Also, check the cake filling — fruit can turn slimy. If you’ve any doubts or the cake has lasted a few days already and you think you might be pushing your luck, don’t risk it. Food poisoning isn’t worth it. You can rustle up another cake in your kitchen and this time, freeze any leftovers.
Although using a fridge to keep cake fresh before a celebration or to protect it from hot and humid weather is useful, refrigerating cake can actually make a cake go stale faster. The reason is that starch molecules in the flour absorb water when the cake is baked and then once the cake is cooling after baking the molecules harden, pushing the water to the surface of the cake where it evaporates. This process is faster in a fridge temperature compared to room temperature. This is the same for bread and the reason why you store bread in a bread bin and not the fridge.
Ideally, eat your cake fresh, or freeze it to eat at a later date. If you want to find out more, check out this blog about how long a cake can last for some more top tips.