Cakes are best when fresh.
Everyone loves fresh baked goods. No one would ever choose to eat a day old cake over a fresh cake! Well, I hate to tell you, but if you ate bakery cake, you ate “old” cake. But it’s actually a good one thing.
Some baked goods are truly the most delicious the day they are made, such as croissants or doughnuts, but most bakeries prepare the components days, weeks, or months in advance. It all depends on what the item is and how it can be stored safely. Cake layers and frosting are exceptionally stable and freeze very well—swell, in fact, that you will get a better final produced with cold and preserved cake elements only if you try to build a cake when it’s cool. When the cake is fresh, the fats have not had a chance to solidify and harden completely, and the structure of the cake is in a delicate state. Cutting, flipping and frosting cake layers in this condition will result in possible tearing, loose crumbs, even a complete rupture.
Small bakeries with lower production rates at least refrigerate the cakes to fix the fats so layers will be easier to work with. Large bakeries will wrap their diapers and freeze them for up to months. As with bread (it’s basically sweet bread anyway), the freezer is like the fountain of youth, the cake layers thaw and pick up where they left off. The added benefit is that the fats solidify, the structure sets, and the flavors fully developed. If you freeze cake layers at home—and I strongly recommend that you do—keep them tightly wrapped and upside down. Storing them upside down will flatten any camber your layer may have so there is less waste when cutting. (Or you can always try the reverse creaming method we talked about before.)