How to transport a cake

How to transport a cake: 3 steps to stress-free travel

Have you just spent the best part of your weekend crafting a beautiful cake and are now faced with the daunting task of transporting it? I’m sure many bakers are familiar with the stress of transporting their baked goodies without ending up with cake splattered across their car seats. 

At this point, you might be panicking because you have no idea how to package your creation for stress-free delivery. While it can certainly be more stressful if you don’t have the essential tools needed to ensure your cake’s safe passage, there are plenty of ways you can maximize your chances of a smooth and worry-free transit.

Before I even begin attempting to move my cakey creations, I always consider the size, weight, and ingredients used to make the showpiece. This gives me a good idea of the dimensions and type of packaging I will need. It’s also worth assessing the space you will have in the vehicle and the time it will take to deliver the cake as these will undoubtedly play a role in how easily you will be able to transport your cake.

If you have a few minutes to spare, allow me to share with you every trick in the book on how to transport a cake safely. I will share my top tips on traveling with a frosted or unfrosted one, how to transport a tried cake, and even how to transport a cake in hot weather!

How to transport a cake

If you want to guarantee the best chance of avoiding a disaster when transporting your cake there are two important factors you are going to want to think about. The first is strategic pre-baking preparations, and the second is some well-engineered packaging that will offer the best layer of protection to your precious cargo.

Pre-baking preparations

The real trick to successfully transporting a cake begins with a little bit of forward-thinking, especially if you plan on traveling long-distance. This can inventively save you a lot of hassle and heart-beak later on. 

A good example of how forward-thinking will help you transport a cake is by considering your frosting and fillings prior to baking. I have found it is best to use buttercream for the filling and outer layers of the cake as it will set harder, making the cake slightly more robust when transporting. 

I also tend to avoid soft fillings such as chantilly cream and crème patisserie if I know I have to travel with my cakes, as the soft exterior can easily become damaged. If you really have your heart set on crème patisserie, you could use softer fillings on the inside of the cake and buttercream on the outside that will act as a protective coating.     

Another thing you should plan in advance is your decorations. If you are planning on adding some delicate finishing touches to your cake like fondant flowers, edible figurines, and piped decorations, then it could be a wise move to add them post-transit. This is because they may fall off the cake or accidentally get damaged during the journey. You can have an extra box handy for your decorations and place them in bubble wrap to avoid them breaking.

I also like to know how far the cake needs to be transported, which vehicle I am taking and if I have an extra passenger to lend a helping hand.

Get a good storage container

Once you have a well-thought-through cake that is robust enough to survive the journey to your destination, I strongly suggest getting a cake-specific container

I’m sure we all have plenty of plastic tubs and storage containers in the back of our kitchen cupboard, but if you really want the best chase of not damaging your cake, these aren’t ideal storage solutions. Apart from the obvious issue that you will need to find a tub that is big enough, even if you manage to squeeze your cake into it, getting it out without causing any damage will be a tall order.

Your choice of cake containers comes down to either a cake box or cake carrier. The good news is both are relatively inexpensive and will save you a lot of stress.

Personally, I recommend you get yourself a good quality cake carrier. There are a few reasons why I believe this is to be the best option. Firstly, it’s reusable, so unlike a cake box, this handy container will serve you well for years to come. I also think a carrier offers significantly better protection, as its hard-shell exterior acts as a protective barrier to the outer world. If you get a good quality carrier like the one above, the tight seal also creates an almost airtight seal around your cake, which will help it stay fresh for longer. 

I also really like that I don’t have to lift my cake out of the box once it comes to taking it back out again. In terms of price, both a cake box and carrier are very similar, as cake boxes are usually sold in a set of 10, so there aren’t any real savings to be had here.

Whatever storage solution you opt for, just ensure your cake board is the correct size too! I would also suggest popping a non-stick matt under the cake board too, as this will stop the cake from sliding around inside the container.

Find a good stop in the car

Once you have created a robust cake and popped it into your trusty cake carrier, it’s time to get to that party! When it actually comes down to how to transport a cake in a car, I usually opt for one of two methods.

This first relies on having an extra passenger to lend a helping hand. If I know that someone will be with me, I will ask them to look after the cake during transit. I have found the most effective way to do this is through the use of a tray with a non-stick mat. Simply pop the mat onto a tray and have your passenger sit with it on their lap. Holding the tray with a few gentle fingers on the cake carrier will guarantee that your cake will be nice a safe during the car journey.

If it’s just you and your cake making the journey, then this is the next method for you. The first thing is you will need to find a flat surface in your car. This can be your boot, or even a footwell if you have enough space. I don’t recommend putting your cake on a seat, as they aren’t flat, and will increase the likely hood of your cake getting splattered onto the side of your cake carrier.

Once you have found a flat surface, pop your non-stick mat down (a yoga mat will also work great) and place your cake carrier/box on top. Be sure to drive nice and steady and no fast breaking!

How to cover a frosted cake before transport

You have finished your beautiful cake and are now ready to prepare it to get it to its final destination. The necessary steps, to begin with, are to measure the width and height of the cake. Also, place the masterpiece on a cake board and check the dimensions on the bottom to ensure it will fit inside the box. After selecting the correct size and shaped packaging, lift the cake with the base and put it inside the box.

Then, place the cake with the packaging inside the fridge until it is ready for transport. Ensure the finished cake fits snuggly in the box so that the sides and top don’t touch the cream. Also, avoid using an oversized box as the cake may begin to slide in the car.

How to transport a cake in hot weather?

There is nothing worse than making a stunning cake only to turn into a sticky mess during transport on a hot and sunny day. First things first, you should leave the finished cake in the fridge until you are ready to leave. Again, using hard fillings like buttercream and fondant icing as I mentioned earlier is going to help keep the cake a bit more robust in hot weather.

Shorter journeys may not be an issue during the summer. However, extra measures need to be taken if the travel time is longer. For example, If you have created a tiered cake for a special occasion, you might just need a van with a built-in fridge to keep the cake cool from the filings melting. For most of us, however, simply turning on the air conditioning and ensuring the cake isn’t sitting in direct sunlight will suffice.

How to transport a cake without a box?

If you have assembled your cake and forgotten to purchase the necessary packaging, then don’t panic, I still have some tips and tricks you can try. Firstly, place a dollop of buttercream in the middle of the cake board and put the cake on top, this will stop your sweet showpiece from sliding on the board during transport. Store it in the refrigerator and set the icing so that the cake sticks to the base.

Another hack you could use will only work for finished buttercream and royal icing cakes. Place six or five toothpicks at the top of the cake so they are sticking out. Next, use cling film or aluminum foil and cover the cake gently from the top to the bottom of the cake board. Alternatively, you can use bubble wrap for fondant cakes with delicate confectionery to protect them from cracking.

What is the best way to transport a layered tiered cake?

While it might seem like a daunting task to transport a large and heavy cake, with the correct tools and hacks it is relatively straightforward. 

Before decorating the cake, stack the tiers using dowels to keep the layers secure in position. This not only helps to distribute the weight of the cake tops to top the bottom layers from sinking but will also make the cake more secure for transport. Then complete the cake with buttercream or royal icing along with the finishing touches. Next, place the cake inside the refrigerator overnight, as this will ensure it is set and thoroughly chilled.

The following day, cool down the vehicle with a cooling fan or air-con. Otherwise, if you have a fridge available, then that is even better. You could ask a friend to help you carry the large masterpiece into the vehicle, ensuring the cake is placed on a flat surface. Also, driving slowly and with caution will ensure the cake stays stable and safe. 

What are the top tips for transporting a cake long distance?

The temperature and storage of your cake are crucial when planning for a long road trip to transport it. Place a silicone baking mat a little larger than the cake underneath the base to stop it from sliding when the car is in motion. Then, prepare the cake and keep it in the fridge overnight, with suitable packaging. Next, a cake carrier is highly recommended, as they are made from solid plastic and will protect the exterior of the cake.

Always keep the cake on a flat surface at the back of the car, as it is less likely to slide. Also, keep the cake away from sunlight. In addition, you could deliver the cake in the early morning or late evening in the summer months as it is the hottest during the day.

What should you do if you don’t have a cake stand?

You have put a lot of time and effort into making a delicious cake, and now you have nothing to display it on. There are a few items in your kitchen you could use that you may have never thought of. For example, you can use a tart or quiche tin that is slightly larger than the cake, as it’s shallow enough to show it off. Also, a beautifully decorated large plate could be an alternative to a cake stand.

Before you bake your cake, it is recommended that you make a checklist of the ideal packaging, suitable ingredients, and transportation method you will use. This way, you will remember everything you need to ensure your beautiful cake gets to the final location without any problems. Overall, a cake carrier is more often than not guaranteed to protect your cake, and always be mindful of the weather forecast.