If you've made a batch of delicious cupcakes, you'll want to keep them from getting hard and dry until you're ready to eat them. So it's good to know that storing cupcakes overnight, or longer if you need to, is more than possible. With the right treatment, they'll stay lovely and moist.
Tips for Cupcake Storage
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension advises that egg-containing products, including cakes, need storing in the refrigerator to retain best food quality. You can keep cupcakes in the refrigerator for one to two days.
However if you're storing cupcakes overnight or longer, freezing is the best option — it will retain their freshness and moisture for up to six months (unfrosted) and three months (frosted) according to K-State Research and Extension.
When you are ready to eat them, K-State Research and Extension recommends thawing frozen unfrosted cupcakes for two to three hours at room temperature. Frozen frosted cupcakes should be only loosely covered and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator.
For speedier thawing, the University of Georgia Extension say cupcakes can also be wrapped in aluminum foil and popped in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes — obviously this only works for unfrosted cupcakes, though.
It's worth noting that cupcakes with egg white frostings and custard-type fillings don't freeze well, so make these in smaller batches and eat them fresh.
Tips for Baking Moist Cupcakes
If you're storing cupcakes overnight or longer, you can't expect them to be moist if they weren't that way to start with.
Although sugar and fat are not the healthiest ingredients, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service explains that they both contribute to holding moisture in a cake. It's better to not skimp on them in your recipe, but to exercise portion control instead by making smaller cupcakes or eating fewer of them. If you are trying to reduce added sugar in your diet, topping them with our fantastic Low-Sugar Sweet Potato Chocolate Frosting will help a little.
The temperature of the oven and how long you cook cupcakes are also important. In the YouTube video "5 Moist Cake Tips That Work Every Time - Never Dry Again!" expert pastry chef, cake decorator and owner of Jillian's Cakery in Sydney, Australia, Jillian Butler recommends using a traditional oven rather than a fan oven for baking.
Fan ovens tend to cook cakes too fast, causing them to dome and dry out. If you don't have a choice in the matter, run your fan oven at around 30 to 50 F lower than the recipe states.
The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service says consistently finding that the temperature stated for your cake recipe does not yield a good result might mean your oven may not be operating at the correct temperature. You should use an oven thermometer to check.
Butler adds that the popular idea you must bake a cake batter until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean is incorrect. Even though this is the widely accepted method to check when a cake is done, a clean skewer could mean your cupcakes are going to be dry.
Instead, bake cupcakes until the first moment the tops become springy to the touch and then remove them from the oven. They will continue cooking for several minutes after they have been removed from the oven.
According to Butler, brushing with sugar syrup — made by boiling equal parts sugar and water — is a great way to get some moisture back into cupcakes that you've accidentally over-baked or that have otherwise become a little dry.
- University of Georgia Extension: "Preserving Food: Freezing Preserved Foods"
- University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service: "Cakes"
- YouTube: "5 Moist Cake Tips That Work Every Time - Never Dry Again!"
- Jillian's Cakery: "About Jillian Butler the Cake Boss"
- University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension: "Food Storage"
- K-State Research and Extension: "Freezing Baked Goods"