The time-honored tradition of freezing the top layer of a wedding cake to share on a first anniversary gives many couples a chance to relive a wonderful moment. For decades, couples have joyfully defrosted the leftover cake and dug in with hopes that it will taste just like it did on their big day. And many couples have been left disappointed when their cakes were dry, stale and tasted of the cardboard layers they had been sitting on for a year.
Beyond taste, another concern is how healthy it is to eat a year-old cake. Though not usually considered, this should be a concern. Any food frozen for a long time can turn rancid. When a cake isn't properly wrapped, air can get into the cake, transforming it into a stomach-churning disaster.
Certain types of cakes, fillings and frostings freeze better than others. For example, lighter cakes will not hold up well. This is especially true if the cake has a filling such as custard, cream or pudding. Richer, denser, moister cakes will tolerate an extended freeze much better. Cakes such as chocolate and carrot are known to stay moist and have a longer shelf life than cakes such as fruit or angel cake. So the type of cake you originally ordered for your big day will factor into you a successful preservation.
By freezing the cake, you take on risks of ingredients breaking down, drying out or tasting "off," which can lead to stomach upset and disappointment. Even with the most careful, multilayer steps of wrapping your cake, the results can be mixed. And a loss of power in your home, especially during a time when you were on vacation, could have defrosted and then refrozen your cake.
One option is to give that anniversary tradition a twist, and defrost your cake layer on your one-month anniversary instead. You still get to experience the romantic ritual, and your cake, with only one month in the freezer, will be more enjoyable.
Alternatively, according to the experts at Pink Cake Box bakery, "you may wish to take on the new trend of ordering a freshly baked, new cake layer for your anniversary." It may not be the exact one from your wedding day, but you can order it in the same flavors, fillings and frosting, giving you that chance to recreate your cake cutting. A freshly baked, filled and frosted cake layer can still carry the good luck that you assign it, and the one-month mark of your marriage is a fine time to rekindle that magic of your wedding day. And digging into a delectable, fresh dessert takes the worry out of eating old cake. A bad cake experience -- whether from food-borne illness or simple discontent -- doesn't make for a romantic and meaningful moment. So put down those forks. There's no need to have even a bite of stale, awful-tasting cake in an effort to ensure a marriage filled with good luck and great happiness.
Sharon Naylor is the author of "The Bride's Guide to Freebies" and three dozen additional wedding books.