Cake has been an age-old dessert, from simple sheet cakes to extravagant wedding and party cakes. But cupcakes were supposedly first invented in America, with Amelia Simmons’ “American Cookery” cookbook in 1796. The cookbook is also believed to be the first cookbook written by an American published in the United States.
Back then, cupcakes were referred to as cakes baked in small cups, and today they are scrumptious delicacies with the satisfying taste of cake in a more manageable and adorable size. Today, we’re exploring just how to best store and freeze cupcakes. Of course, frosting a cupcake straight out of the oven leads to a melted frosting disaster, but sometimes we don’t have the time to bake, wait and frost.
Storing homemade cupcakes for icing and eating later is essential for any cupcake lover. Let’s get started!
Storing Undecorated Cupcakes
There’s a reason behind letting foods cool before storing! When stored in an airtight container, warm and hot food releases steam that can condensate on the food’s surface. For cupcakes, this can result in sticky cupcake tops with excess moisture and cupcake sides that don’t cleanly separate from their cupcake liners.
Let your unfrosted hot cupcakes cool completely before frosting or storing them for later. Letting them cool on a cooling wire rack instead of on the baking tray can prevent overbaking and soggy bottoms.
When choosing how to store your cupcakes, a standard plastic air-tight container is a great option to balance maintaining freshness with an airlock and preventing stickiness that can occur with plastic wrap.
Choose a plastic storage container that is tall enough for your cupcakes to stand upright. You also want to place cupcakes in a single layer in the container for best results. Bonus points if it’s tall enough to hold frosted cupcakes, which we’ll get to in a moment! Finally, store your unfrosted cupcakes at room temperature in a dry place, on a counter, or in an extra cabinet. They will have a shelf life of about a week.
How to Freeze Unfrosted Cupcakes
When freezing unfrosted cupcakes, it’s arguably even more important to ensure that your cupcakes have cooled down before you begin. If you aren't careful, condensation that forms on your cupcakes will turn into ice in the freezer. Once those cupcakes are defrosted, you’ll be in for a soggy mess.
Instead, let your cupcakes cool completely, then wrap them in plastic wrap individually. You can place the cupcakes in their plastic wrap in the freezer or place them in a larger plastic freezer bag or container for more security. Keep in mind that placing them in a container can protect your cupcakes from becoming squished as you inevitably place more things in the freezer before unfreezing all of the batch.
While saran wrap isn’t recommended for cupcake storage at room temperature, it’s a great choice when freezing cupcakes since the lower temperature won’t cause sticky tops and helps prevent freezer burn. However, when you’re ready to unfreeze your baked goods, be sure to peel back the plastic wrap, especially from your cupcake tops, before they hit room temperature.
Plenty of times, I've committed to bringing dessert but then end up with a busy schedule and no time to bake. I love being able to freeze a bunch of cupcakes then pull them out a couple of days before the day of the event. This is such an easy way to help manage your schedule.
Storing Frosted Cupcakes
Storing frosted cupcakes isn’t too different from storing unfrosted cupcakes, but you might need a taller plastic container! You wouldn’t want all of your hard work to go to waste because of a plastic top crushing them all in one go.
As a general rule of thumb, about 3 inches tall should accommodate most designs, and depending on how much room you have in the container, and you can even opt to pipe frosting onto the cupcakes right in the container.
Store this container at room temperature on a counter just like unfrosted cupcakes, and eat within a few days up to a week for optimal freshness! I also like to use a cake carrier for this. It holds a lot and is usually tall enough to cause no damage to the cupcakes. And the carrier is easy to grab and go when you need them for a special occasion.
How to Freeze Frosted Cupcakes
Perhaps the question of the day is, how can you even attempt to freeze frosted cupcakes? Keeping the frosting away from anything else in your freezer and still maintaining the beautiful flow of cupcake frosting…is it even possible?
Of course, it is with a bit of prep and maybe a little extra freezer space! Remember that it will take a bit longer to freeze frosted cupcakes compared to unfrosted cupcakes or even cookies and batter. First, let your cupcakes cool as usual.
Next, frost with your favorite frosting, and then freeze these frosted cupcakes individually, with no wrapping. This will ensure that your frosting has a chance to maintain its shape in the freezing process and not smush into other freezer goodies.
Finally, wrap all frozen cupcakes as you would an unfrosted one with plastic wrap, then freeze individually or in a plastic container. When defrosting, remove the plastic wrap immediately, then let thaw to room temperature. Delicious!
Can I Store My Cupcakes In The Refrigerator?
We’ve learned how to best store and freeze both unfrosted and frosted cupcakes. But why is storing your cupcakes in the fridge a bad idea? Is it really better to store them in a container at room temperature?
Refrigerating your cupcakes is a quick way to dry them out. The sugar content in your cupcake will quickly crystallize and harden, resulting in crumbly cupcakes, and not in a good way. Instead of a satisfying cakey bite, you'll be met with a hard edge and a mess of crumbs.
Of course, there are exceptions to most rules. If your cupcakes contain fillings or frosting made from dairy products, you’ll need to store them in a fridge to prevent spoilage. You can also store fresh cupcakes in a fridge for a short period of time before serving to preserve cupcake frosting that might melt otherwise before an outdoor event.
So Can You Freeze Cupcakes?
Definitely yes, but I'd recommend freezing your cupcakes for no longer than three months.
Cupcake baking can seem like the simpler version of regular cakes. But any seasoned baker will tell you that cupcakes can take just as much time, and sometimes more time, than a cake! In addition, every small cupcake needs delicate care, decoration, and protection from other food things that could get them crushed.
Now you can streamline your cupcake-making techniques and treat yourself to more cupcakes without the stress. Ready to read more about baking techniques, storage, and recipes on SerenaLissy.com? Check out our article on Top 10 Baking Tips for the Perfect Cake and try our Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes recipe today.