Just about everyone can find a good occasion for cake. After all, cake is one of the most popular baked desserts that people all around the world enjoy, and it is also one of the most versatile ones as well.
There are hundreds of different flavors you can incorporate into your cake, as well as countless different ways to bake the cake and even many ways that you can adjust and flavor the frosting.
With as many different ways to customize cakes as there are, it should come as no surprise that different cakes have different storage requirements. For example, most people don’t put store-bought cakes into the fridge because there is no real reason to do so.
Cakes are one of the few types of foods that can sit out on the pantry at room temperature for a little bit, depending on if it is in an airtight container or not. However, there are some types of cakes that you should actually be refrigerated. A good example of this is going to be the carrot cake.
While you can certainly get away with keeping carrot cake on the counter for a day, possibly two if you are lucky, you should almost always put carrot cake in the fridge. There are a few different reasons for this, and many of those reasons are going to correspond to different aspects of your carrot cake.
For the most part, carrot cake should always go into the fridge, as this is going to be one of the better storage methods that you can choose for this type of food. You can also freeze carrot cake, but this is not always recommended as this can affect the texture of the cake considerably.
The Problem with Carrot Cake
There are a few reasons why you should always make sure to put carrot cake in the fridge. One of the most common reasons is that carrot cake, traditionally, is made with a cream cheese frosting.
Naturally, anything that is made from cheese is going to need to be stored in the fridge. Otherwise it will begin to go bad when it is left out at room temperature for too long.
If your carrot cake was made with cream cheese frosting, you should always store it in the fridge without any question. If you do not like the taste of chilled cream cheese, you could leave the cake out on the countertop for about an hour or two at most to bring the temperature of the cheese up, but otherwise, it needs to remain in the fridge.
What if your carrot cake doesn’t utilize cream cheese? If your carrot cake doesn’t make use of cream cheese anywhere in its recipe, then you can store it the same way you would store any other cake.
That is to say that your cake will do just fine on the countertop as long as you keep it out of direct sunlight and you are keeping it in an airtight container.
You won’t have to worry much about the fact that carrot cake makes use of fresh carrots, as the carrots were cooked alongside the cake, so they do not have the potential to go bad the same way that regular carrots left on the countertop would.
In general, a good carrot cake without any cream cheese on it will last between two and three days on the countertop.
If you leave it on the countertop for any more time than that, it will begin to dry out and become stale. On the fourth day, it will likely still be edible, but you will definitely begin to taste the signs that something isn’t right about the cake.
It will likely be quite dry to the touch and its taste may be a little bit different. Depending on the humidity of your kitchen, the cake should still be safe to eat at this point, but this is also the time where you should begin to consider checking for mold.
After the fifth day, you should consider tossing the cake out. Again, depending on the conditions of your countertop, it may or may not begin growing mold at this point. It will definitely be much more stale and lose much of its fresh taste to it.
The frosting on the cake will likely reach a hardened point that won’t taste very good, and there isn’t much of a way to salvage a cake that has reached this degree of age and staleness.
After the sixth day, you should get rid of it regardless, as it likely will hold no semblance to its original taste and will probably have mold growing somewhere on it, even in an airtight container.
In the end, if your carrot cake has cream cheese on it, you need to store it in the fridge no matter what. It will not last more than a day on the countertop with this kind of frosting on it, so you should only leave it out when you are fully intending on eating it, such as if you are waiting for the frosting to warm up a bit to match your tastes. Otherwise, your carrot cake can last about two to three days on the countertop.
As you can imagine, none of these times are that long and if you have made a full-sized carrot cake, you may not know the best way to handle the situation to consume all of it in this short a period of time.
In these cases, the best thing that you can do for yourself is going to be to put the carrot cake in the fridge.
The fridge is one of the best places to store your cake if you are planning on eating it within a week’s time.
The Fridge or the Freezer?
Both the fridge and the freezer are great places to store a cake, but which one is right for you and your carrot cake? It all comes down to when you are going to consume all of the cake by.
Storing the cake in the fridge will keep it fresh for no longer than a week. This means that if you are not planning on eating the whole cake within a week’s time, then it might be better for you to store it in the freezer.
The freezer is not the first recommended option simply because if you do not closely follow the instructions for freezing it, you may end up with a cake that tastes a little bit off. Freezers will keep a cake safe to eat indefinitely, but there will be a noticeable taste degradation after about four to six months.
After this period of time, you should begin to consider if you really want to keep the cake or not, as it may not be possible to bring the cake back to its original tastes.
In the fridge, you should make sure that you have covered the entire cake in either foil or plastic. This will help ensure that the cake itself doesn’t begin to dry out while you are keeping it in the fridge. This works with both store-bought carrot cakes as well as freshly baked carrot cakes.
You will find that store-bought carrot cakes will last slightly longer in the fridge and on the counter simply because most store-bought carrot cakes will have some degree of preservatives in them, even the ones that are designated as healthy.
This may be one advantage to buying store-bought cakes over natural ones, though freshly baked cakes do tend to taste better.
Likewise, if you are planning to put the carrot cake into the freezer, you will want to also try and wrap it as tightly as possible in foil or plastic wrap so that you can try and preserve the moisture of the cake.
This will be noticeably harder in the environment of the freezer, but it is still important to do what you can do to preserve the original texture, or else you are going to have a cake that doesn’t taste quite right much sooner than the four to six months that the freezer can keep your cake in good condition.
However, if the taste of the cake is not as much of a concern to you, freezers can keep cakes safe to eat for as long as the freezer can be at 0 degrees.
To make sure that your cake hasn’t gone bad in the fridge, you will want to rely on smell, primarily. Because carrot cakes are made with fresh carrots, you are going to be able to notice it quickly if those fresh foods are going bad.
The same concept applies to carrot cakes that make use of buttercream or cream cheese frosting, as those contain eggs and milk, both of which will give off a strong smell if it has gone bad.
If you cannot tell from the smell of the carrot cake alone, you can also look at the cake itself for signs of deterioration, discoloration, and so on. For example, if there is any mold on the carrot cake, you should get rid of the cake immediately as it will be no good to eat, no matter how well preserved it is.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.