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Best ways to defrost a cake?

For an upcoming desserts and cocktails party, I have baked several desserts in the past two weeks and frozen them (a red velvet cake, a chocolate chip cookie pie, cheese cake, mini pumpkin muffins, and a chocolate macaroon bundt). I waited until they were all completely cool before wrapping them first in 2 layers of press and seal (kind of like saran wrap) then 2 layers of alum. foil. The party is on Saturday night. Do I pull them out on Saturday and put them on the counter? Pull them out on Friday and put them in the fridge? Do I defrost them with or without the foil/wrap? And finally is it easier to ice/top any of them right after they come out of the freezer or would that just make a mess? Thanks!

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  1. Just pull out and leave unwrapped at room temp on the day of...keeping the wrapping on while thawing will just cause the ice that melts to condense and make your baked goods soggy. Also, just frost after thawing.

    1. I have to disagree almost completely with Cherylptw. Remove them from the freezer on Friday night and refrigerate without unwrapping. The cakes will thaw slowly and without any condensation forming on the surface. On Saturday, take them out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature - still wrapped. When they're more or less room temp, you can unwrap and frost them or do whatever you want to do to them. It's the contrasting temperatures - freezer to room - that causes moisture to form on the surface of things and make them soggy. If you're just dusting with icing sugar, make sure the cake has completely warmed to room temp. For icing, it can be a bit cool but still work quickly to avoid surface sog.

      Now you're confused. We need a tie-breaker.

      1. I'll add my two cents here. I know, and Cooks Illustrated acknowledges, that thawing while they are wrapped will leave them gooey. Condensation will form between the cake and the wrapper, and you don't want that!

        I typically remove the cake or muffins from the freezer the day I'm going to use them, and allow them to thaw on the counter. If I'm not going to be using the item until later in the evening, I might wrap it up again, but only after it had thawed and there was no danger of condensation.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

          It is my understanding and experience that the condensation occurs on the outer wrapping. If the cake were unwrapped, condensation occurs on the cake itself. I go with Nyleve's process.

          1. re: jmnewel

            Nyleve is correct and Cherylptw is off-base with this. ALWAYS thaw baked goods before removing the wrapping or taking them from a container. This is one of Martha Stewart's recommendations, if you doubt Nyleve.

        2. It seems like we have different opinions, momnivore. Please report back on which way you chose to defrost, and let us know the results. I'm willing to change if there's a better way of doing things!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

            Thanks to everyone for their input. The party is this Saturday and at this point I think I'm going to go with thawing in the fridge with the wrappers on (when all else fails, I'll listen to Martha Stewart). I'll report back next week.

          2. Okay - so the party was on Saturday and I took all the cakes out and put them in the fridge, still covered, on Friday night. Then late Saturday morning I moved them to the kitchen counter, still wrapped. A couple hours later I unwrapped them. There was no condensation and nothing was soggy. One of the cakes (the red velvet) was a little too dry but I think that was either from me just not knowing how to bake a red velvet cake or from the freezing process in general, not from the thawing process.
            Anyway, thanks again for the input - and now I know how to thaw a cake!

            3 Replies
            1. re: momnivore

              Thanks for reporting back - glad all went well!

              1. re: momnivore

                Coming a little late to this party, but from my past experiences, a combination of defrosting in the refrigerator one starting the day before and defrosting in room temperature 4-6 hours before serving will insure the cake is not frozen ....or even cold. Depending on variables such as location of kitchen, kitchen temperature, outside temperature and time of year......these variable all have influence on the process.

                I generally do not purchase frozen pies...but every once in a while I get nostalgic and purchase a Pepperidge Farms Layer Cake from the freezer section. I've tried the day of defrosting recommendation without success. More recently, Marie Callenders's pies and cakes have become available in the local supermarkets., usually priced at $8 each.....A little high for a frozen commercial pie, but this past Thanksgiving they were on sale at $3.99 each. I decided to give one a try....the Coconut Custard I believe, without any cake......took it out 6 hours prior to expecting it to be served. when it came time to serve six hours later....there were still ice chips in the filling. Live and learn.

                1. re: momnivore

                  Hey, that's great!! Lotsa good info here, and you've gotta try it to figures out what works for you.

                2. Good to hear that it worked out.

                  Believe it or not, I took this to be a thread about how to remove frosting from ("de-frost") a cake!

                  I never even thought about freezing cake, go figure! :o)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lidia

                    Easiest way to de-frost a cake is a dog. Maybe not the best way, but definitely quick.