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Nov 6, 2009 09:26 AM

Can I prepare cake batter and store for a day or two before baking?

I'm going away for a long weekend to a cabin in VT where there is a great kitchen. I love to cook and bake but I don't want to spend the whole time in the great kitchen, so I'm trying to do as much prep in advance to make it less time consuming when I'm there. I'm planning to make a chocolate cake and I'm wondering if I can prepare the batter at home and then bake/frost when I'm there. Alternatively, what is the best way to store a baked cake to preserve freshness?

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  1. i suggest you just bake the cake and brush with some liquid (w/sugar or liquor) then freeze. it travels well. you can also make the frosting ahead and keep in a big piping bag.

    the baking powder, if "double acting", may react once it sits in the batter with it's ingredients and rise a bit by itself- so your cake may have a lower rise than usual. This happens to me when i have to make a triple or quad layer cake, in which case, half the batter is put away for around 2-3 hours while the first batch bakes and cools. the second batch of the cake is always a bit different.

    i'm sure there is science around this and people will be able to expain this better, but this is one of the reasons why i buy my cake pans in multiples of 2 or 3's...

    1 Reply
    1. re: jeniyo

      No "may" about it. If you mix the batter ahead of time it will be flatter than a fritter when you bake it. The chemical reactions won't wait on you unless you could hold it near freezing. I'm not even sure about that. Even then I suspect the long warmup to baking temps would have undesirable consequences.
      Most readily available baking powder is double-acting baking powder. Though some of it is supposed to react at higher temperatures I suspect the long period of being wet will cause it to loose it's ability to convert moisture to gas. That's why baking powder goes bad fairly quickly. Moisture gets into it every time you use it and in a month or so it might have lost all its umph. If things aren't rising like they should it's time for fresh BP.

    2. I wouldn't prepare the entire batter in advance but, much like if you used a box mix, I would prepare a container/bag with all the measured dry ingredients, and another one with separate wet ingredients. That should cut down on your prep time. On the other hand, if you want to do something like a layer cake, I would suggest baking the layers, freezing, and transporting the frozen layers and the frosting with you to assemble at the cabin. Have fun!

      1. You can freeze the unfrosted cake, well wrapped, if it's going to be a few days and frost there, or you can bake and frost and keep in an airtight container. But, as others have said, you can't mix up the batter ahead of time. Depending on the technique the cake uses, you can mix different bags of things to make there.

        1. Bake and finish the cake at home where you have all of the equipment you're comfortable and familiar with. No problem with keeping it for a couple of days. When you assemble the cake, put a generous swipe of frosting under the bottom layer to hold it in place while travelling. When ready to pack, take some skinny bamboo skewers, then get some really wide plastic wrap. Many restaurants will sell (give) you some, or you can pick it up at a restaurant supply. And then you need a cardboard box big enough for the cake. When ready to pack, put several passes of double stick tape in the bottom of the box. Then insert the bamboo skewers around the cake piercing at an angle at the top edge of the cake. And one (or two or tree) in the middle. These are your "tent poles." Now drape the plastic wrap over it, tuck in around the bottom of the plate. Gently lower the plated, tented cake into the box with the tape on the bottom. Close the top of the box -- tape shut if you wish -- and you're good to go! AND free to enjoy all of the time when you arrive at your destination. No worry about hot spots in a strange oven or not being able to find a measuring spoon when you need one. And no, cake batter does NOT store well! If it did, you would be able to buy "cake mix" in premixed containers! '-)

          1. Thanks for all the great advice - I really appreciate it!