Adventures in eating year-old dessert
The Reflective Groom and I are not too hung up on wedding traditions, and – with our wedding taking place in my home country, on the other side of the world to where we live – it was never our plan to bring back wedding cake to save for marking our first anniversary. After all, who on earth would possibly want to eat 12-month-old dessert? How could that possibly be something enjoyable? And yet, here I am – more than year later – with an anniversary celebrated in cake and happy tummy full of mudcake and fondant. So how did that all come about?
(Just want to know the steps for wedding cake storage? Skip ahead to the “How To” heading.)
During our wedding preparations, the architecture of our wedding cake was a point of cultural negotiation. My groom wanted a three-tier cake with pillars separating each level, as is custom in his corner of the world. Our cake maker said that wouldn’t be possible architecturally, without making the cake highly unstable (leaving us a bit befuddled as why bakers manage the feat in my groom’s country but not my own). We settled on having only one set of pillars, and instead making each individual cake tier taller to compensate. Each tier ended up being just shy of six inches high, with the bottom widest level being chocolate, the middle carrot cake, and the narrow top tier caramel mudcake.
As we hadn’t intended to preserve any wedding cake, we instructed our reception venue to slice up and serve all tiers during the party, to give a variety of flavors. The following day we went to fetch the remaining decorations from the reception room, and the kitchen staff brought out the leftover wedding cake… the entire top two tiers! It turns out that because each cake was so tall, the staff started by slicing the cake in half horizontally before cutting vertically – doubling the number of pieces that cake would yield. So much for flavor variety. 😛
We took the two tiers home to my parents’ house, and dined on the second tier with my family before cutting up the remainder to give to neighbors, friends and people who weren’t able to make it to the wedding. But after everyone was covered for their cake needs… we still had the top tier of the cake left! We decided to bring it back to my groom’s country to serve in a few weeks at the post-wedding gathering for his family who weren’t able to make it to the other side of the world; that way they could still witness the wedding tradition of the cake cutting with the real wedding cake.
But how to get it there in our suitcases? We wrapped the top cake tier in plastic wrap and stood it inside a thick cardboard box, then put all that in a plastic shopping bag, and surrounded it with a protective barrier of clothes in the suitcase. When we arrived back in my groom’s country, to our surprise the cake had survived the long plane journey in checked luggage – even the sugar flowers were intact! The cake was refrigerated until the family gathering… and even at that event only half of the top tier got eaten by our guests! We finally admitted defeat in shurking tradition and decided to save the rest to share together on our first anniversary.
We followed the instructions on Pop Sugar for storing our wedding cake for a year. It advised freezing the cake for 30 minutes before wrapping it, to avoid the frosting sticking to the plastic. We bundled it up in one layer of plastic wrap and then one layer of aluminum foil (apparently foid shouldn’t be the inside layer as it can make the cake taste of metal), then put the entire thing in a thick plastic shopping bag. The cake was on a wooden board, but there was a thick layer of decorative fondant between the cake and the board, so it shouldn’t affect the taste.
Several websites we read also advised putting the cake the back of the freezer, or in a freezer you don’t use very much, so that the temperature and texture of the cake won’t be affected as much by the freezer door opening and closing for a year. Those guidelines, and the fact that our apartment freezer is not so large, led us to leave the cake in the deep chest freezer of my parents-in-law.
We took the remaining wedding cake out of their freezer during our most recent prior visit about two weeks before our first anniversary, and transferred it to the freezer in our apartment without unwrapping it. Two days before the anniversary we re-located it to the refrigerator for thawing.
When our first anniversary arrived (at last!) we very delicately removed the plastic bag, foil and plastic wrap from our wedding cake. It definitely seemed in good condition: the fondant frosting looked perfectly textured, the sugar flowers were still intact, and the cake itself looked no different than it did when we tucked it away in the freezer a year ago. We carved two pieces to eat, direct from the fridge without further warming it to room temperature. And that’s when the surprise hit us… it tasted exactly like fresh cake! I’m not exaggerating, this could have easily passed for homemade cake taken straight from the oven. There was still so much cake left that I brought it into the office and fed a dozen colleagues with it… and it still tasted fresh. Even co-workers who were reluctant to sample year-old dessert were astounded.
So why did the cake preservation work so well? We have a few theories! Certainly, we closely followed the instructions for storage and freezing, but we think some of the success was due to the type of cake itself. Caramel flavoring is very sweet and with centimeter-thick fondant frosting encasing the whole thing, all the sugars no doubt worked well in favor of preservation.
Although it hadn’t been our plan, it was pretty cute to be sharing our wedding cake together on our first anniversary, and I’m glad that we were able to hold some over for the celebrations. If you are planning to keep some of your cake, seek advice from your baker about what types of cake will preserve best, and follow the instructions for correct storage to get the best results. 🙂
Are you planning to save some of your wedding cake to share together on your first anniversary?