How to Preserve the Top Tier of Your Wedding Cake

Bakery experts give us the scoop on savoring your cake past the wedding-day slice.

Photo: Abby Jiu Photography

A wedding cake is a ceremony classic, but the fun doesn't stop at the first cut. Many newlyweds opt to follow tradition by saving, freezing, and storing their cake's top tier to share in celebration of their first anniversary.

While some couples choose a hands-off route-relying on their baker or caterer to do the post-wedding preservation (some bakeries even offer a smaller, duplicate cake that can be picked up in a year)-if you've forgotten to plan ahead or are all about that DIY, fear not. Skeptics, rest assured: Your year-old wedding cake can taste brand new, even if you do the wrapping yourself.

Ahead, pastry chef and founder Tiffany MacIsaac and lead decorator Alexandra Mudry-Till of Buttercream Bakeshop give us the run-down on all things preservation.

Allow your cake to chill before you begin wrapping.

To preserve the integrity of your icing, allow it to harden before prepping for storage. "Buttercream icing is very soft," says the chef and decorator duo, "and you don't want to have a mess on your hands!" Stick your leftovers in the fridge until everything feels sturdy, which "will allow you to wrap the cake more easily and firmly."

Remove ornaments and decorations, too.

"You should remove any decorative additions to your cake so that you can wrap it airtight before putting in the freezer-you don't want any room for airflow under the plastic wrap." A smoother cake allows for better coverage-i.e. less chance of spoiling.

But don't head straight to the garbage can with those accents. "If you want to save sugar flowers as a memento, definitely remove them," say MacIssac and Mudry-Till. While they may look pretty left on, "they will get soggy if they're smushed into the icing when you wrap the cake." Instead, the bakers recommend setting them aside in a dry, room-temperature location.

When it comes to wrapping, double up.

It takes more than a single coating to keep your cake at its finest. Begin with plastic wrap, "pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the buttercream or fondant." Then, follow up with "at least two layers of foil-that should shield it from anything entering the freezer!" the Buttercream Bakeshop reps say.

Remember that your cake won't be the only thing in your freezer.

Smells transfer, as do certain tastes, so "if anything aromatic is going into the freezer (like fish, frozen onions, etc.), make sure it is well-wrapped and sealed properly." Still worried? "You can also throw a box of baking soda in the freezer to absorb any smells and flavors entering the freezer."

Consider your post-wedding plans.

"A lot of people move in their first year of marriage, so it's an added bonus to keep the cake somewhere that it can be left untouched for a year, like your parents' house if you know you're moving," MacIsaac and Murdy-Till advise. "You want to make sure it's not defrosting and refreezing," so "avoid removing it for a full year."

Of course, power outages and surprise job relocations happen, meaning a temporary displacement may be inevitable. If that's the case, don't immediately lose hope. "You can freeze and defrost the cake" more than once, "but it's not ideal to do so."

Certain cakes do better stored than others.

"Oil-based cakes are going to last a little longer," says the pair, "but if you know you want to save the top of your wedding cake, you should ask your baker for ideas. Every recipe is different, and they will know which cakes are best for a longer shelf life. For us, our almond cake (pictured above) is a good way to go because it's high in fat and the almond paste has a lot of density and moisture. It's a good rule of thumb that fluffy, airy cake will dry out faster."

Defrosting is as easy as one, two, three.

"When you are ready to eat the top layer, take it out of the freezer and keep it in the fridge overnight. Leave it at room temperature on the counter for five or six hours unwrapped-then eat!"

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