How Long Does Cake Actually Last?

What do weddings, birthdays, and graduations have in common? Cake, of course. And if you're the focus of the celebration, your family and friends are likely to send the leftovers home with you. At first, the prospect of indulging in cake for days to come is exciting; but, more often than not, you're not able to finish it all before it loses its quality, texture, and taste. So, how long should you expect your cake to remain in pristine shape? The answer usually lies in how well you've stored it.

Per Betty Crocker, the biggest issue with room temperature storage is that the cake's moisture evaporates quickly. Because of this, it should be held in an air-tight container to protect it from the elements. In general, a cake kept in room temperature environments won't last longer than three days. To extend its life, you should consider keeping it in the refrigerator. Expanding on the air-tight container rule, Bamboo Wok recommends wrapping the cake with foil or plastic wrap. Unfortunately, the cake's ingredients make a tremendous difference in how long the dessert lasts. Though cakes with custard, fruit, and cream cheese fillings and toppings should be placed in the fridge immediately, they won't hold up for more than a couple of days.

The best solution for a long-lasting cake is freezer storage, but only if it's made with traditional icing. Storing a cake this way can potentially maintain its freshness for up to two months.

Are wedding cakes the exception?

It's a common tradition for couples to enjoy the top layer of their wedding cake on their big day's one-year anniversary. But is it actually any good; and, more than that, is it even safe? 

To address the latter, is Richard Miscovitch from the Johnson & Wales University's International Baking and Pastry Institute. "A year in the freezer impacts quality but not food safety ... as long as the cake is properly frozen at a constant food-safe temperature," he said to Inverse

As far as if it's worth it, some Reddit users say yes while others say no. "The absolute best you can hope for is dry, 'not TOO bad' cake," a presumed baker wrote. Another cared more about the meaning behind the practice. "We saved a slice of our cake. I don't care if it's gross, it's tradition and I'm sentimental and we can laugh about gross cake," they wrote.

According to Wilton, wedding cake should be stored pretty much the same way as other cakes — in the freezer with an airtight wrap. Because it'll sit for a year, you might want to conserve it with a storage container or two layers of aluminum foil. But be prepared, because it won't taste as good as it did on your special day (It could be a top wedding cake mistake).