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Topic: Traveling with decorated cakes
luckygal 07/26/2012 12:48 AM
I am a very novice cake baker/decorator and would love some advice. My daughter's birthday is coming up next month. I would really love to make her cake(s), however, we will be traveling during that time and will be having two separate parties with the different sides of the family. I would just buy cakes at each location, but since this is an annual trip, I never get to make her birthday cakes. I am really determined to make them this year, but really need some assistance on the logistics.

To mix things up, I plan to have cupcakes for the first location, and a sheet cake with an edible image for the second location. Unfortunately, I will have very limited means to do any baking and decorating at the locations. So given this, I would prefer to have everything completely done before we leave. The trip time to the first location is 10+ hours. The cakes will have to ride in the trunk since there is not enough room in my car with car seats and all. We will arrive on a Thursday and have the party on Friday. I will not have access to a refrigerator large enough for either the cupcakes or cake. This location also does not have air conditioning. The second party will occur on Sunday with more traveling involved. So essentially, I don't really have access to a refrigerator the entire time. So here are some of my questions:

1. Can I bake and completely decorate the cupcakes and cake ahead of time? If I make them a few days before we leave, will they stay fresh? Do I refrigerate, freeze, or leave at room temp?

2. If I freeze the decorated cake, how do I travel with it, keep it frozen, and defrost? Cooler with ice? Dry Ice?

3. I plan to use the WASC recipe for both cupcakes and cake. What is the best icing recipe to use that will stand up to possibly being frozen and then being in hot, humid, non-airconditioned places.

4. Will an edible image stand up to the above conditions?

5. Should I just give up and get a grocery store cake at each location?

I am so sorry that this is so lengthy. I would really appreciate any advice you all have to offer. Thank you in advance.

cakedujour 07/26/2012 7:24 AM
My big concern is the heat. Buttercream and high temperatures are a disaster waiting to happen. I think you're best off baking all the cupcakes and cakes and wrapping them well so they stay fresh. Have all your buttercream packed into containers that you keep in a cooler filled with ice. Replenish the ice as necessary. You will have to bring your tools, pastry bags, tips, spatulas, etc. and ice the cupcakes at destination one, and repeat at destination two. Icing you're not using should be in the cold cooler.

Because so much of the country is sweltering this summer I think you should use a buttercream recipe that is made from strictly high ratio shortening. No butter. High Ratio, while it can be expensive, is your best bet in hot weather.

I've never used an edible image so I can't answer that question.

Good luck and welcome to the forum!
ginnyl 07/26/2012 8:48 AM
Ditto to cake's far as an edible image I have done two different designs.
I have applied the edible image at the last minute when at all possible..It is easy to do and goes on quickly..
During the recent heat wave when the cake was going to be delivered when it was 99 degree, I placed the edible image on a plaque of 50/50 fondant/gumpaste. I made it several days ahead and then put it on the cake just as it was going out the door..less change of it sweating as it was on the fondant and not directly on the cake.
luckygal 07/27/2012 12:10 PM
Darn, I was really hoping there was a way to fully decorate the cakes before leaving home.

cakedujour- If I store the buttercream in the coolers and then ice the cake at the destinations, will the buttercream be okay to use without remixing in the KA? I always put my buttercream in the mixer prior to icing the cake if the icing has been stored in the refrigerator.

ginnyl- Thank you for the idea of putting the image on the fondant/gumpaste. That would not have occurred to me.

Thank you for the responses!
cakedujour 07/27/2012 6:43 PM
Ginny is the queen of plaques and she is a genius creatively with them.

Bring a rubber or silicone spatula with you and give the buttercream a good stir before you use it, but don't beat in any air if you can help it. Sort of slap it around in the bowl without incorporating air.
luckygal 07/27/2012 7:13 PM
Okay, I will try that. Am I doing something wrong when I put my icing in the mixer before using again? Is that not a common practice?

Thanks again for the help!
cakedujour 07/27/2012 8:40 PM
No, you can do that when you're at home. But in the constraints of these particular circumstances, you have to have an alternative. When you do use your mixer, make sure the beaters are buried in the icing so that you're not incorporating air into it. Then you have air bubbles to deal with when icing and you don't want those!
CollectorEJ 07/28/2012 6:32 AM
The other possibility is using High Humidity Frosting. It travels well and I have people who like it better than buttercream.

10 ounces shortening
2 tablespoons dry Dream Whip
2 teaspoons flavoring (I use almond)
dash of salt

Mix on high 8 to 10 minutes or until light and fluffly. In warmer weather it doesn't take as long.

Add 1/4 cup flour, mix on high for another two minutes.

Add 2/3 cup milk and 2 pounds of powered sugar, alternately. Mix on medium speed.

cakedujour 07/28/2012 8:41 AM
Emily, would this icing be ok in the car and other places without air conditioning for 5-6 days or so? She isn't going to have access to any refrigeration at all for the whole trip. Would she be able to decorate and have the cakes stay ok in the trunk the whole time? That would be great if you think it would work.
luckygal 07/28/2012 10:34 AM
Thanks questions exactly!

CollectorEJ- Thanks for that recipes. I don't know that I have ever had icing with flour in it. I think I will give both recipes a test run this weekend. Thanks for the help!

I have read some threads here where people have frozen a fully decorated cake with success. Has anyone ever taken their frozen cake and kept it frozen with dry ice in a cooler? I have received foods in the mail packed with dry ice. I am wondering if this would work for a cake. Any thoughts?
CollectorEJ 07/28/2012 12:40 PM
When the recipe was given to me I was told it would set out for two weeks, would last for a month in the refrigerator.

I don't see why it wouldn't work. Put it in a container then put in a cooler chest in the trunk. You don't need to add ice to the cooler chest. The trunk doesn't get as hot as the inside of the car, because there is no glass in the trunk. I've hauled oranges in a cooler chest (no ice) in the trunk, from California to Ohio and the oranges were fine for several weeks after I got home.

This recipe is my go to recipe for cake decorating.

What I would do in this situation would be to crumb coat the cakes, wrap them well, make the frosting to take with me and decorate when I got there.
luckygal 08/24/2012 3:21 PM
Here is an update for anyone that is interested. I ended up baking and completely decorating (minus the edible images) the cupcakes and two sheet cakes prior to leaving for my trip. I froze the cakes and cupcakes inside cake boxes, which were tightly wrapped in several layers of Press N Seal and then foil. All four cake boxes were placed in a large cooler with dividers for the two layers of boxes made from scrap wood and foam. The boxes were then topped with a towel and then dry ice on the very top. This method worked out very well. Everything stayed frozen until I was ready to thaw things out. Cupcakes were in the cooler for about 10-11 hours total before being put in the refrigerator. The two cakes were in the cooler with dry ice for 2 1/2 days before being put in a refrigerator. Everything came out great...cakes and icing tasted fresh, no colors running, etc. I used the WASC (both white and chocolate versions) for the cakes and Bunnywoman's High Humidity icing recipe. Thank you to everyone that offered advice and recipes!
cakedujour 08/24/2012 3:30 PM
I'm glad it was a successful cake trip!