Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Long Does That Last??

Five Days.

When my students ask me how long a cake or cookies or cupcakes will last, I always say five days.
This is based on nothing other than my opinion and experience in eating leftover cakes five days (or more) later. But there are ways to make things last longer, and there are some exceptions to this rule.
Below you will find my "shelf-life" guide to many of my baked goods and icings. This is not scientifically tested, by the way.

If you're making a Basic Buttercream, Cream Cheese or Ganache icing, I say generally it will last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. The buttercream and cream cheese both freeze well, and I will use it within a month or two from the freezer.

I give Swiss Meringue Buttercream a shorter lifespan. Maybe a week in the fridge. (It probably lasts longer, but I love to eat it on graham crackers or vanilla wafers, so I would never know if it did.) I have not tried freezing this. I am rather unsure of how that would work out.

For Fondant, I usually say that it is good for about a month after it's been made (or opened if you're using store-bought), as long as it's stored well.

Cake & Cupcakes:
For cakes and cupcakes that you've baked, but not decorated, this is where my five-day-rule comes in. But, the good thing is that you can freeze all of these things. I use my freezer a lot!
I pack cupcakes into Tupperware containers, with parchment paper between the layers.
Cakes I double-wrap with plastic wrap and put them in the freezer.

Once things are decorated, this is where I really, really stick to my five day rule.
I think cupcakes go stale the quickest. Maybe just because they're not as well covered with frosting? But these need to be eaten ASAP. (Not a problem for me with these Banana Split Cupcakes, my favorite!)

With an iced cake, you may be able to bend a little on the five-day rule, if you have not cut into it. Once you've cut it, that's when I find that it goes stale really fast. To try to make it last, I usually place plastic wrap directly on to the cake where it has been cut. (I wish I had a photo to show you what I mean, but I cover any exposed cake with plastic wrap.) The cake that's covered with icing or fondant stays good longer because it's covered.

I have frozen iced cakes before (undecorated, but covered with icing or frosting). This works, but your finished cake does get a little overly moist, sometimes almost mushy. So, I would only do this when you really have no other option.

Cake Pops:

Cake pops are kind of a different animal. Because they're completely encased in candy, I think they do last a little longer. I still aim for the five-day rule, but I'm a little more flexible with it.

Making cake pops, though, for me usually involves something that's been frozen. Generally, for my cake pops, I use leftover cake, or a cake that fell, or a cake that stuck to the pan. Those cakes I stick into freezer bags and pop them into the freezer so that I can pull them out and use them whenever I want to make cake pops.

You can also freeze the cake balls before you decorate them. I would caution though, that I don't try to use previously frozen cake if I'm going to then freeze the cake balls, because I'm told that freezing and thawing things multiple times is a bad idea and increases the chances for bacteria to grow. Ew!


I've found that my Vanilla Sugar Cookies last quite a while. I've sent many to my Grandma in South Carolina, and it's usually a good week between when I baked them and when she gets them. Then, she usually takes a few days to eat them, and there's never been a problem with them getting stale. Usually for the cookies, I aim for a week's time from baking to eating.

With some other cookies, like oatmeal cookies, monster cookies or other peanut butter cookies, I find those go stale way too fast, so I usually keep those in the freezer, and just take out the few that I'm going to eat or serve that day. (This also sometimes keeps me from snacking on them quite as much.)
*Yes, I know I've yet to make monster cookies on the blog. I will. One day. Soon, I hope!

Did I forget anything? What are your rules for how long things last?? 

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