The canapes are set, the wine is chilled, your guests are almost here and your cake is ready to come out of the oven.
Shoot, you’ve forgotten to leave enough time to cool your cake down so that you can frost it before its time for dessert.
If you’ve ever tried frosting a still-warm cake, chances are you’ve experienced the uneven, melting icing dripping down the sides, giving the piece-de-resistance of your dinner party a somewhat disappointing and underwhelming finale.
Most types of cake will ideally need a full hour to completely cool down, both inside and out, before they can be evenly frosted.
This can be longer if your cake is more dense, for example, carrot cakes and rich chocolate cakes.
However if you’re running short on time, here are the tips and tricks you’ll need to cool a cake, fast.
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How to cool a cake quickly
There are several ways to cool down cake fast, with the end goal of reaching room temperature in a steady but speedy way.
We suggest trying the following methods in order from first to last.
1. Remove the cake from the pan
For ideas on how to make a cake cool faster, you’ll need to start first by removing it from your pan as quickly as possible.
The metal pan will be hot coming out of the oven, and your cake will continue to soak in the temperature whilst in the pan.
You want as much of your cake’s surface to be exposed to cool air, so gently pry it out of the pan within a few minutes of taking it out of the oven.
2. Transfer cake to a wire rack
Once you’ve removed your cake from the pan, you’ll want to transfer it to a wire rack.
A wire rack is designed to keep your cake both elevated and let as much air as possible reach every surface of your cake, from top to bottom and side to side.
A cool wire rack is a necessary step to quickly cool a cake down before you can try putting your cake in the fridge or freezer, to accelerate the cooling process even more.
In comparison, leaving your cake on a baking tray can result in condensation on the bottom surface as the heat can get trapped without exposure to air.
Try to leave your cake on the wire rack for at least ten minutes before moving on to the next step in this list.
3. Cut cake into slices
Another way to make a cake cool faster is to cut it into slices (be sure to use a serrated knife, it’s one of our essential cake baking tools!).
A whole cake will take longer to cool down faster as less air can reach its inner surfaces.
However by slicing the cake into several layers, there will be more opportunities for your cake to cool quickly and evenly.
If you were planning to serve a layer cake, you’ll likely have needed to slice your cake anyway, so this option won’t change your plans greatly.
However even if you weren’t intending to serve layers, remember that you can always cover up the slices with frosting once your cake has sufficiently cooled down.
To cut even layers, you’ll want to leave your cake to cool on a wire rack for at least fifteen to twenty minutes, then gently slice horizontal layers using a serrated knife.
Once sliced, spread the layers out separately over your wiring rack (you may need multiple racks if you have them) and let them cool down individually.
4. Use a fan
If you’re running very short on time, you can supplement the wire rack method with a mini table top fan.
This method works best when the fan is rotated evenly on all sides of the cake, to ensure the cake cools down evenly.
For this method, you’ll want to cover the cake with a towel to ensure the cool air from the fan doesn’t dry out your cake.
This tip won’t dramatically cut down your cooling time, but it will help to prep the cake before you put it in the fridge (more on that below).
Ensure also that your cake is away from any direct sunlight or heat, this includes near windows that face the sun or on top of the counters directly above or adjacent to your oven.
The aim is to give your cake the best chances to cool down to room temperature at a steady but quick pace, so minimizing any exposure to heat is key.
5. Put the cake in the fridge
The fastest way to cool down your cake is to put it in the fridge.
Whilst this can be a nifty trick for short periods of time, putting the cake in the fridge will cause it to lose moisture quickly.
For that reason, make sure you store your cake in an airtight container and place it in the fridge for only ten minutes or so.
Any longer could result in your cake drying out, so if you use the fridge method, don’t set and forget.
6. Put the cake in the freezer
Another way to cool cake fast is to put it in the freezer.
This method is less likely to dry out your cake as compared to the fridge, however you’ll want to ensure you’re wrapping your cake completely before storing it.
The freezer method does mean you may need to thaw and heat up your cake before serving it, or you can simply let it thaw to room temperature instead if you’re happy to serve it cold.
When using any of the above methods to cool the cake quickly, remember that whilst the exterior of the cake may be cool to the touch, the center may still be warm.
Give your cake as much time as you can to cool down completely before frosting.
This will help to ensure your cake has an even surface, neat frosting and ideal deliciously moist texture.