Photo: Gabe McClintock
What's better than delicious cake on your wedding day? Getting to enjoy that celebratory sweet again on your first wedding anniversary, of course! But anyone with a freezer knows that properly preserving food to eat a whole year later is a little more complicated than just throwing a few slices into a plastic bag. The good thing is, a little advanced planning and some intentional choices will make the process totally easy. Sure, freezing the top tier of your wedding cake is more about tradition than having a bite of cake that tastes as good as it did on your wedding day (which is why many bakers offer small anniversary cakes that you can purchase, freshly baked, when the time comes) — but it's a tradition that's totally sweet. We talked to Amy Beck, the owner, baker and designer of Chicago's Amy Beck Cake Design, to get a baker's perspective and inside tips on how to make that top tier last.
1. Decide if you're saving the top tier in advance.
"Let your baker know during your cake tasting and consultation if you plan to serve or save the top tier," says Beck. Why? "If you decide to save that top tier, you'll want to make sure the lower tiers will have enough slices to serve all your guests."
2. Don't worry about the design.
Thankfully both fondant and buttercream freeze well, so you don't have to sacrifice design for tradition. Says Beck, "Choose the cake design you love, then ask your caterer to properly box it up for you to take home."
3. Strategize flavors.
While both buttercream and fondant hold up well to the freezer, as do most cake flavors, not all fillings are created equal. "Cream cheese frosting and ganaches dry out quickly, which doesn't bode well for a year in the freezer," says Beck. Keep this in mind if you're offering several cake flavor combinations, so you can make sure the top tier is one that will stand the test of time, literally.
3. Plan accordingly.
"I always recommend that the top tier be boxed up immediately and set aside for the bride and groom," says Beck. "This avoids the chance of it accidentally being sliced and served!"
Freeze and defrost correctly.
Once you get your boxed cake home, wrap it in multiple layers of plastic wrap, then tuck it into a tight corrugated cardboard box to prevent the cake from getting crushed. But that's not enough! "Wrap the entire box in lots and lots of plastic wrap, too. This will help keep the cake moist and fight off freezer smells," Beck explains. Take the cake out of your freezer the day before your anniversary, and place it in the fridge for a full 24 hours to thaw. Then, place it on the counter for an hour so it can come to room temperature in time for dessert.
A Pro's Opinion
With all that in mind, does Beck recommend saving the top tier? "It's a very personal decision," she says. "For some, it's deeply rooted in tradition, while others might not find it as important. Either way, talk to your cake baker: They will be able to help you decide what's best for you!"