Most cake icings store bought or homemade have milk in them. The store bought containers usually say "refrigerate after opening." Does that mean you are supposed to refrigerate your finished cakes? I usually leave mine out, but it just had me thinking HOW LONG can I leave it out without it going bad?

What about cakes made with cream cheese frosting? Is that more urgent to refrigerate?

What about cheesecake? I usually refrigerate cheesecake.

asked 13 Jan '10, 07:11

Sabrina's gravatar image

Sabrina ♦
accept rate: 14%

Whatever you buy in the "dairy" line nowadays is usually pasteurized - so malicious bugs are mostly dead before you open the box.

What you do is very dependent on where you live. In a moderate climate, you can put a cake, incorporating cream etc, out for people to "pick at" for around 6 hours. Try that in New Orleans on a sunny summer day and the whole thing will turn to mush ...

Those store bought cakes say "refrigerate after opening" as an "escape clause" - if they go bad, you can't take 'em back.

Generally, if your cake has been made with reasonable hygiene precautions, you can leave it on a table for people to pick at for about 6 hr. After that, you should refrigerate it, and eat the remainder inside 48 hr maximum. Don't try to freeze anything if it has been thawed and left at room temperature for more than an hour. Refrigerate as much as possible - it does not hurt anything.

A lot of the time, those "dairy bugs" tell you by the taste if you have left things out too long. If food starts to taste a little sour, that will not cause death or disability, it just indicates that the surviving "dairy bugs" have decided that this is their meal, not yours. They make the sour taste to put you off eating it ... it usually works!


answered 14 Jan '10, 01:00

klypos's gravatar image

klypos ♦♦
accept rate: 10%

I don't ever remember my mom or GrandMother putting a cake in the refrigerator. It sits out for days and people eat it and no one ever gets sick. In fact, the cake goes stale before the icing gets sour. After 3 or 4 days any leftover cake goes in the trash.

I'm not a chemist and so I don't actually understand why, but sugar, in large quantities, is a preservative. That, I believe, is why cake icing stays "fresh" for so long.

By the way, I'm not recommending not refrigerating the cake, this is just a good question and I wanted to share my experiences with you.


answered 16 Jan '10, 17:35

Elizra's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

Same with cream cheese icing, by the way.

(16 Jan '10, 17:36) Elizra

Thanks for sharing. :) I agree it goes stale or it's eaten and you don't hear of people getting sick from eating icing.

(20 Jan '10, 08:41) Sabrina ♦

The sugar dissolves in the internal fluids of most bugs trying to live on it and causes them to burst - "elevated osmotic pressure" is the scientific phrase. But we must remember that cakes using sweeteners to keep the sugar content low require special attention - they need refrigeration etc.

(20 Jan '10, 16:12) klypos ♦♦
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Asked: 13 Jan '10, 07:11

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Last updated: 16 Jan '10, 17:35

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