Almost every baker, whether home or professional, faces a situation where they want to make a cake, but they just don’t have enough time to bake the batter.
It would make any baker’s life a lot easier if cake batter could be made in advance and baked later.
Cake batter can be made ahead of time, but leaving it for too long will result in a cake that’s more dense and flat than normal. After a while, the air that was whipped into the batter will be lost and the baking powder will lose effectiveness. Cake batter should be stored in the fridge.
The longer that the cake batter is left to sit, the less it’s going to rise during baking. This is why you get the best results when you bake your cake immediately after mixing the batter together,
Generally speaking, cake mix batter and homemade batter will respond slightly differently to sitting for a while before baking. Since cake mix has chemical additives that make it more stable, it may be able to sit for longer before being baked.
Problems You Might Face After Making Cake Batter In Advance
Cake batter generally isn’t made in advance purely because it’s not necessary and will have inferior results than freshly made batter.
However, if you are still interested in making the batter ahead of time, here are the main problems you’ll likely run into:
Any Built-Up Air Will Be Lost
As the cake batter sits, the air that’s been beaten into it will slowly escape until there isn’t any remaining.
Whether it’s the air that’s been folded in from beaten egg whites or air that’s created when creaming the butter and sugar, it will be lost if the batter sits for too long.
Any air that’s added will be lost with enough time, regardless of what type of cake batter it is.
The Chemical Leavener Won’t Be As Effective
If you’re using baking powder or baking soda, it’s going to become less effective with time.
Both of these leaveners can start to react as soon as they’re mixed into the batter, so leaving them for too long can significantly reduce the potential of your cake’s rise.
Baking powder reacts with liquid and heat, so it’ll start reacting as soon as it’s mixed with any type of cake batter. If you leave it to sit for a while, this initial reaction will have finished, so you only get a partial rise from the baking powder reacting to the heat in the oven.
Baking soda reacts with both acids and heat, so it should only be used when there are acidic ingredients used in the cake batter. It first reacts very quickly with any acidic ingredients and then reacts again when baked. Baking soda is much weaker than baking powder, so if the initial reaction is finished before baking, the cake won’t rise much.
The Cake Won’t Rise Nearly Enough
As I’ve already stated, the cake won’t rise as much during baking, so you’ll end up with a flatter and more dense cake.
The amount of rise your cake can get is dependent on how long it is left sitting before baking. Obviously, the best time to bake it is right after mixing all the ingredients, so the rising potential decreases more as the cake sits out for longer.
The rise of the cake is also going to depend on what kind of cake it is. One with a lot of air beaten into it before baking won’t rise as much as you’d hope, but a very basic cake that uses very simple methods may still be able to get a decent rise.
How Long Can I Leave Cake Batter Out Before Baking?
It’s impossible to say how long all cakes can sit out since there are so many different types. Generally speaking though, very basic cakes with limited air beaten into them should last longer than cakes that have whipped egg whites folded into them.
Another thing to consider is the overall safety of the batter as it can develop a lot of bacteria if left out for too long. A general rule to go by is that any cake shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for any longer than an hour. Since the batter likely contains ingredients that spoil quickly at room temperature (milk and eggs), you want to avoid too much bacteria growth.
If you’re not going to bake the cake within an hour, store the batter (covered) in your refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it.
Tips For Making Batter Ahead Of Time
Since leaving your cake batter out for a long period of time before baking can lead to some problems, it’s useful to know a few things to help you get the best results.
Here are some tips that you shouldn’t go without.
Refrigerate The Batter As Soon As Possible
The key to making sure that your cake batter lasts for as long as possible is to keep it in the best conditions.
By covering it and storing it in the fridge, you’re limiting bacteria growth and keeping the batter fresh.
The last thing you want to happen is to have cake batter that’s riddled with bacteria and spoiled.
Hold Back On Some Ingredients
The big problem with not baking your cake batter right away is that the chemical leavener, which is most often baking powder, can become less effective.
This means that the cake won’t rise as much as it could if it were baked immediately after mixing.
Instead of putting the chemical leavener at risk of becoming less effective, there is one thing you could try.
If you just avoid adding the baking powder and a portion of the flour, you can then add them in right before baking.
I don’t mean that you can just throw these in though. It’s important that you get the baking powder evenly incorporated.
To get it incorporated properly, you want to be prepared before baking the batter. So, just before you’re ready to bake, take the baking powder and flour and mix it together thoroughly. Then pass it through a sieve twice so you can get the baking powder distributed and the flour aerated. Now you can gently fold this flour and baking powder mixture into the prepared cake batter and bake it as normal.
Keep in mind that this won’t work for all cakes, especially the ones that contain a lot of air, but it can be very effective for some types of batter.
Bake The Batter, Then Freeze The Cake
So this may not be a tip for the cake batter, but it’s certainly a more appropriate way to ensuring that you’ll still get a decent cake that’s well-risen.
Instead of storing your cake batter for baking later, just bake it straight away (if you have the time). By doing this, you’ll be able to get a good cake and just store it for later use.
The best way to store it for longer than a day or two is to freeze it and just take it out on the day you need it.
Simply wrap the cake layers in a layer or two of plastic wrap, making sure to wrap it tightly and expel any air, then wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. This wrapping will prevent the cake from drying out or getting freezer burn.
Frozen cake is best defrosted within a few weeks.