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Chocolate cake is an iconic and timeless dessert throughout the world. The only reason I don’t eat chocolate cakes all the time is to prevent my arteries from clogging up. Moreover, chocolate cakes don’t last forever. However, that does make me wonder. How long do they last?
Chocolate cakes usually last for a couple of days if you store them at room temperature on the countertop. Transfer it inside the refrigerator and it would last up to a week. Pack it and put it inside the freezer and it can easily last up to 6 months.
Let’s dig deeper and figure out how you can stretch the lifespan of your favorite dessert as much as possible and indulge in this guilty pleasure a bit longer.
Factors that affect your chocolate cake’s shelf life
There are several factors that affect the freshness and the shelf life of chocolate cake. From the type of cake to the type of frosting and everything in between. Let’s check them out
Amount of leftover cake
Uncut chocolate cakes last a bit longer than cut slices or partially cut cakes. When the chocolate cake is uncut, the frosting acts as a protective layer that prevents moisture loss. On the other hand, chocolate cake slices, or partially cut chocolate cakes have a significant portion of frosting removed and more surface area exposed to the air.
That’s why they lose moisture more quickly and turn dry and unappetizing as time goes by. It also results in a stale cake. You can make up for the moisture loss by covering the exposed parts of the slices or partially-cut the cake with frosting.
Type of cake
The kind of chocolate cake or any other cake you have also affects its shelf life. For instance, ingredients used in store-bought and homemade chocolate cakes are very different and hence their shelf life isn’t remotely similar.
Supermarket chains and commercial bakeries add stabilizers and preservatives to make their cakes last longer on the shelf. When I make a chocolate cake at home, I don’t need to sell it and that’s why I don’t need to worry about shelf life. Instead, I try to choose organic recipes. That’s why homemade chocolate cake usually has a lower shelf life than store-bought cakes.
Ingredients of the cake
The filling, frosting, and topping used on the cake make a big difference in the cake’s shelf life. Sometimes, those ingredients alone can decide the shelf life of the chocolate cake. For instance, if your chocolate cake has fruits as toppings, it can go bad very quickly. If you store that cake at room temperature, the toppings may start going bad by the next day.
When your chocolate cake has more dairy ingredients like custard filling, whipped cream, or any other type of processed dairy, it should be stored carefully inside the refrigerator. Dairy products have a short shelf life and it can be unsafe to store chocolate cakes with high dairy content at room temperature. However, there are exceptions like American buttercream.
If your chocolate cake has a layer of American buttercream or a frosting made from it, it can be stored at room temperature for a couple of more days. More delicate alternatives like Swiss buttercream would go bad quickly and start to melt if kept at room temperature for too long.
Either way, most chocolate cakes at room temperature should be consumed within a day or two, and here’s a chart to remind you about its shelf life when stored in different conditions.
|Pantry or Countertop
|40F or lower
|0F or lower
How Do I Tell If Chocolate Cake Has Spoiled Or Gone Bad?
You can figure out if your chocolate cake isn’t fit for consumption from its appearance, taste, and smell. The cake should be moist with a deep and dark color and shouldn’t have a sour or unpleasant odor. The cake shouldn’t taste sour or have any mold either. In those cases, the cake needs to be discarded.
While some chocolate cakes may last just one day or more beyond the shelf life mentioned in the chart above, most of them aren’t too lucky. Moreover, when a chocolate cake goes bad, the signs are very apparent.
Here’s how within just five minutes, you can figure out if the chocolate cake is spoiled:
- Appearance – The chocolate cake should appear moist with a dark color unless it has a lot of dairy ingredients. It shouldn’t appear a bit “off” with white spots.
- Touch – The chocolate cake should be moist to the touch and shouldn’t crumble upon contact.
- Smell – The cake shouldn’t give off a stale odor either. Even if it isn’t a stale smell, you should throw it out if it gives off any kind of weird odor after being stored beyond the recommended time frame.
- Taste – When you take the chocolate cake out of storage and it looks, smells, and feels right, cut a very small piece and taste it. If the cake tastes sour or off in any way, discarding it is the best option.
Apart from the above-mentioned signs, a chocolate cake has obviously gone bad if it shows mold. If I find even the smallest signs of mold, I throw the cake away. Don’t try to salvage it by cutting off the moldy part. You’ll regret it later on when you’re rushed to the hospital and get a big fat medical bill at the end.
How do you preserve a chocolate cake for a longer shelf life?
If you plan to consume the chocolate cake within a short period, it’s best to store it inside the refrigerator with additional frosting if necessary. To keep the cake fresh and store it for months, you need to wrap it with plastic wrap and foil and store it inside the freezer.
In the refrigerator
Whether it’s just an individual slice, an entire cake, or a partially cut cake, if you don’t plan to eat it within the day, it’s best to keep it inside the refrigerator. To make a partially cut cake or individual slices last longer, you can cover the exposed spongy part of the cake with a layer of frosting.
That keeps the moisture locked in and prevents the cake from drying out. If you don’t prefer a lot of frosting, you can always scrape it off before eating it. On the other hand, if you have a homemade chocolate cake that needs to be out for guests within a day or two, you can wrap the cake in plastic wrap and store it inside the fridge. Bring it out and decorate it with frosting or cover it with glaze right before the event.
In the freezer
When you’re planning to make the cake last for several months, you need to put it inside the freezer. It can be done even when you have frosted cakes. Put the frosted cake inside the freezer for an hour to freeze the topping and frosting. Next, bring it out and cover it with two layers of plastic wrap and follow up with a layer of foil. Put it back inside the freezer.
When I store them properly inside my freezer, cakes last up to 6 months. When I need to bring them out, I defrost them overnight inside the refrigerator without the plastic and foil layers and it’s perfect for consumption the next day.
I wish chocolate cake had an infinite lifespan and someone would serve them to me freshly baked every day. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and it wouldn’t be good for my health. However, you can always make your homemade or store-bought chocolate cake last longer in the refrigerator or the freezer.