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Travelling with a cake

I want to bring a cake to a Christmas Dinner, but there's a 5 hour road trip between my kitchen and the dinner table.

I'd also love to make the cake in advance (today even, or possibly tomorrow), just to have it done and out of the way.

If it's just a basic layer cake, how feasible is it to pull it out of the oven, let the halves cool, put them back in the cake pans & cover with plastic wrap? Is there a better way to pre-make a cake and keep it fresh for a few days?

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  1. I actually find if I put the icing on it, it lasts longer...it kind of seals it. The problem though for you would be transporting a cake that has icing on it. You could try freezing the cake for a few days. I have never tried it, but I know others that have and it would probably dethaw on the 5 hour car trip.

    1. I would do as you suggested , but I would recommend that you line the cake pan bottoms with parchment rounds cut from a roll. You can refrigerate the cakes if you wrap the in saran and then zip-bag them.

      Butter cakes are quite durable and travel very well.

      1. I've cooled them and then put them back in the pan, as Kelli suggest, to transport. If there's refrigerator space there, frost it when you get there and keep in the refrigerator (like some bakeries do). Also, in transporting cakes, the non-skid mats work wonders in preventing it from sliding. I learned my lesson when my husband decided to put one layer of a frosted cake on the car seat and it went flying--good thing I wasn't there.

        1. freezing a cake and then thawing it actually makes it way easier to ice for some reason, we always bake the cakes, let them cool, and then wrap in wax paper and put in a tin with the lid on tight, and freeze. a few days later we take them out, thaw, and ice. i think it makes the crumbs stick together more or something.

          1. If you make the chocolate pound cake I have posted on this board in the past, it will last for a week well wrapped. It is very dense and will travel well. Serve it up with either a ganache glaze applied on site, whipped cream or just dusted with powdered sugar. The aroma while baking will drive you crazy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Candy

              I can confirm all of Candy's points! I recently made her chocolate pound cake on a Sunday for my SO's birthday and shipped it to him on Monday, priority, with instructions to open and eat immediately... he didn't open it until Friday and shared with friends... I was a little worried about how it must have tasted, given the 600 mile journey and sitting in a cardboard box for five days, but when I recently went down to visit, everyone spontaneously complimented me on the cake. It's a winner! And didn't fall apart in the mail system, so I think the car ride will be fine.

            2. Thanks for the advice! I'm making a red velvet cake, and will probably try putting the cakes back in the pans & freezing. If I do the cake tonight or tomorrow night, then freeze, it might make it to dinner on Sunday night & should have plenty of time to thaw out gently in the cake pans on the 5 hours drive.

              On Sunday, I'll know for sure if freezing a cake makes it easier to frost!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Detroit Slim

                I read hints that frozen cakes are easier to frost (prevents crumbs) but I've also read that if you frost frozen cakes, it'll hold the moisture against the cake and make them slightly soggy and that when the cake expands, it could crack the frosting. I thought, at first, that you were traveling soon but your plan sounds great. By the time you get there, the cake will be defrosted and you can frost it then. Let us know how it goes!

                1. re: Detroit Slim

                  Last year for the holiday we traveled with my red velvet cake from NY to Virginia. I baked it and iced it (cream cheese icing) the day before. I bought a cake box and put it in with extra support (balled up foil) around the cake rounds which I bought a little extra big (10" size for a 9" pan three layer red velvet). I was terrified the cake would slide or layers would slide but I wedged the box in well in the hatch area and it made it just fine. It was winter and kept fine. Got to Virginia - put it in the fridge and it was perfect.

                2. not sure about that one regarding advance/freezing, but if you want another option...

                  I made the Paula Deen coconut cake & traveled with it. Turned out great, traveled great, and best if made in advance (without freezing)

                  1. I have layers of red velvet in my freezer now for Christmas also. Although I'm not travelling with it, I'll wait until Sunday to frost it using simple syrup on the cake layers to seal in the flavor and moisture. Merry Christmas!

                    1. Flipss -

                      What do you mean by using simple syrup on the cake layers... Are you using it before you freeze the layers? Or after you thaw them and before you frost them?

                      I'm pretty sure you're talking about using a simple syrup before frosting, but for some reason I'm feeling a bit daft today.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Detroit Slim

                        Hi Detroit Slim,
                        No need to thaw out layers before frosting, it's actually more manageable to frost a frozen layer (won't crack or break).It's a common practice in a lot of bakeries to brush cake layers with simple syrup as part of the frosting procedure.Your red velvet
                        will be smooth, moist and velvety...

                      2. You are planning to wrap the layers in saran BEFORE you put them back in the pans, right? I think they would be a lot more air-tight that way + no risk of sticking to the pans.

                        Or just wrap the layers individually, stack up on a cardboard cake round, then wrap the entire thing in foil. Cushion (and insulate )it with clothing in your suitcase. Put icing in a ziplock bag, and assemble the whole thing at your destination. Pack your offset spatula! I've done this a couple of times as my husband's birthday coincides w/ a family beach trip sometimes.

                        1. I highly recommend using a large cookie tin to store and transport. Turn it upside down and use it like a cake dome (the lid as the base). Line the lid with a cake circle or doily and use some icing to glue the cake, and the circle to the lid.

                          Split the layers (so that you have four) and trim the smooth tops. The exposed crumb will give added friction/absorbency and the cake wil stick together better. Frost between the layers to glue them together, and then the entire cake liberally with an icing that sets up well. Nuts can also protect the icing's surface without color bleed (like sprinkles). Keep it in a cool place, and it will be good to go .

                          1. I've been making carrot layer cakes recently and I've found studding the frosting with chopped walnuts (mostly because I like the taste/texture with the butter/cream cheese frosting), allows me to wrap the frosted cake in plastic wrap and not 'smudge' the frosting. May not be helpful on your 5 hour drive, though.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MobyRichard

                              love carrot cake...
                              do you have a recipe you'd be willing to share? :)