Cakes on a plane? I know it sounds horrifying. Don’t worry it can be done and I have a complete guide to traveling with a cake via air travel for both short flights and long air travel.
If you’re a baker like me, you know that when you travel to visit family and friends you might get requests to bake yummy cakes.
And you don’t want to spend your vacation time wasting hours in the kitchen.
So you plan ahead and make the cake/batter/frosting ahead before traveling but you want to ensure that everything is prepared and packaged correctly to withstand the trauma of an airplane.
Can you Travel with Cakes in an Airplane?
First of all, Yes you can travel with an entire cake or slices of cake on domestic flights within the USA. You can also travel with them on international flights departing from and arriving in the USA.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will allow you to bring cake through airport security in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage. Both store-bought and homemade cake are allowed. If the cake is not packaged, it should be wrapped or placed in a container with a secure lid.
How long will a Cake last on an Airplane?
When traveling with a cake on an airplane a freshly baked cake will usually last 1 to 2 days at room temperature.
But cakes that have frostings or fillings that contain eggs or dairy products, such as whipped cream or cream cheese will not last as long, it will only be good for about 2 hours at room temperature.
However, you can make it last longer by using frozen ice packs to keep the cake cool for a longer period of time.
Depending on how thick a cake layer is, a frozen cake will take about 8 hours to defrost. Now you can use frozen ice packs to keep the cake from defrosting faster.
Tips on Traveling with a Room Temperature cake on a Airplane
- Buy a cake box or cake caddie at least 4 inches bigger than the cake. The frosting on the cake will not get stuck to the cake box because of the amount of distance between the cake and the walls of the cake box. Turbulence in the air can cause things to shift around and this helps to stop your cake from being damaged.
- Also Use masking tape or a non skid mat under the cake board to secure the cake inside the cake box.
- I would recommend that you check with your airline and find out if they will let you fit the cake in the overhead bins, on your lap or under your seat on the airplane.
- You don’t want a frosted cake at room temperature being checked and tossed with other luggage.
- Remember to find out the dimensions of under the seat of the aircraft so you will know if your cake can fit comfortably there.
Can you Freeze Cake Batter for Air Travel?
Now another method for prepping cakes ahead of time is freezing the batter and baking them off at another time. If you want you can try freezing the cake batter instead of freezing a baked cake and transporting it to your destination via air travel.
Yes, you can put the frozen cake batter in your suitcase. But it must be frozen completely and placed in a sealed container or a zip lock bag.
However, this is risky because if the cake batter melts it might be rejected by airport security so I would only recommend this for short flights.
It is important to check the air travel regulations on what they allow in carry-on luggage and checked-in luggage. This often differs from country to country.
The TSA allows frozen liquids if they are presented completely frozen solid to security checks and in this case liquids is extended to include anything with a high liquid content, so it covers everything from water and fruit juice to pasta sauces and oils.
How to freeze cake batter for air travel
Cake Batters take longer to freeze because of its higher sugar content.
Prepare your cake batter as you normally would.
How to Freeze Cupcake Batter
- Line your cupcake pans as normal with cupcake liners and fill the cups.
- Next, cover it with plastic wrap tightly and freeze.
- Once frozen, remove the frozen batter from the cupcake liners and toss the frozen cupcakes molds into a zip-top bag.
- Remove as much air as possible from the bag.
- The batter can last up to three months in the freezer.
- Now when you are ready to travel, remove the frozen cupcakes at the last moment from the freezer.
- Bubble Wrap the ziplock bags.
- Put the zip lock bag with the frozen cupcakes in a cooler bag and top with frozen ice packs.
- The place the cooler bag in the carry on.
- When you reach the destination place the frozen cake batter back into the freezer until you are ready to bake.
- When you are ready to bake, place the frozen cupcake molds in a cupcake pan.
- Let the cake batter come to room temperature before baking or leave them in the oven for an extra 5 to 7 minutes.
How to Freeze Cake Batter
This one requires a bit more manual labor, but it can be done. You might need to freeze the batter for at least 14 hours or so until it is rock solid.
- Firstly you can freeze your batter into either large bags for big cakes or in smaller quart bags for smaller cakes. (Roll the zip edge back before starting so it stays clean).
- Remove as much air as you can then seal, and freeze.
- Once frozen remove the ziplock bags with the cake batter and bubble wrap it.
- Place in a cooler bag if the bags are small or directly in a small carry on.
- Surround the ziplock bag with frozen ice packs
- When you reach your destination, if you are not ready to bake the cake, Place the frozen batter back into the freezer.
- When ready to bake remove from the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.
- Snip the tip to pipe the batter back into the cups or squeeze the batter into your pan or open the bag and spoon the batter out .
- You can add 2 minutes additional baking time (unless batter is at room temperature).
I also would advise that you avoid freezing cake batter leavened with whipped egg whites, like a chiffon or sponge cake, you have to bake those types of cakes as soon as possible.
Can you Bake, Decorate and Freeze an Entire Cake Before Air Travel
Yes, you can absolutely freeze an entire cake, but I wouldn’t recommend freezing the entire finished decorated cake especially for air travel.
Sure, some very brave people have had success freezing and thawing finished cakes but for me, this is too risky.
With a finished frozen cake the possibility of breaking the cake toppers or other finishes on the cakes during the flight is very high.
You see when the cake is frozen it contracts and then when it is warmed up it expands this process can weaken a filling’s stability, put cracks on a crumb coat, and cause a finished cake to get condensation bubbles especially if you freeze fondant.
It is much better to freeze your cake layers and then assemble before you need the cake.
Plus with the cake’s components baked and you will still have ample time to decorate it without getting stressed out.
How to Freeze Cake layers for air Travel
Freezing cake layers is an absolute time saver for any baker and you can easily freeze them and pack them for air travel.
You can use a carry on suitcase filled with frozen ice packs or a soft side cooler bag with frozen ice packs.
Certain airlines may allow small quantities of dry ice but check with the airline about their guidelines concerning dry ice because airlines differ with their policy on dry ice.
Always check with the airline first, because policies are always changing.
But at the time of writing this article, American Airlines allow a small container with dry ice as a carry-on, while JetBlue says that containers with dry ice must be checked.
On international flights, Air France allows passengers to travel with dry ice, but only if they seek authorization first.
Now Cakes that are high in fat content freeze best. Angel food and chiffon cakes will not freeze well.
Frozen cakes usually last 3 months and still have great taste and texture in my opinion.
I would recommend you travel with these layers in your carry on.
Here are my tips:
- Allow your cake to cool completely to room temperature because if you freeze the cake while it’s hot, it will get freezer burn.
- Trim your cake and level the tops so the cake can lie flat.
- Wrap your cake in at least two layers of plastic wrap.
- If your cake is small or if you are freezing cupcakes place the wrapped cakes in zip lock bags.
- If the cakes are large after wrapping them with plastic wrap, wrap them once again with aluminum foil.
- Place them in a clean freezer to completely freeze.
- Now it is important to make sure all the layers can fit properly in your hand luggage so place the frozen cake layers in the luggage of your choice before the travel date but don’t leave them out too long.
- Remember you just need to ensure you choose the right size carry on.
- Remove your cake layers just before you leave for your flight.
- Bubble wrap them and place frozen ice packs around them.
- When you reach your destination, place them back into the freezer until you are ready for them.
- Once you are ready to frost the cake layers, allow them to defrost in the refrigerator.
- Don’t remove the plastic and aluminium wrapping from the cake before defrosting it because this traps the moisture inside the cake. You can however, remove the bubble wrap.
- Decorate as you wish with the frosting of your choice.
How to Freeze Frosting for Air Travel
Cakes with fresh frosting will usually only last 2 hours at room temperature especially frostings that are made from eggs or dairy such as custard or cream cheese. So freezing your frosting may be the best option for flying with frosting.
Any frosting that has a high-fat content will freeze really well. Try making the frosting ahead of time and freezing it along with the cake layers.
The most important thing when freezing frosting for air travel is to freeze it until it is rock solid. Remember the TSA will not allow anything liquid beyond 3.4 oz or 100ml.
- First make your frosting as you would, some frosting freeze better than some, for example, buttercream freezes really well.
- Scoop it out and place it in an airtight container or zip lock bag depending on the quantity.
- Place in a clean freezer and freeze until rock solid. It is best to use within one month.
- Remove from the freezer until the final moment you are ready too leave for the flight.
- Bubble wrap and place in a cooler bag, place frozen ice packs all around.
- It will be great if you can fit the cake layers and the frosting in the same carry on so it will be easy to keep track of and keep both cool.
- When you reach your destination place it back into the freezer until you are ready to use.
- Defrost your frosting for at least 2 hours at room temperature before use.
- Use a hand mixer or whisk to whip up the frosting before use. This will add air into the frosting, making it fluffy once again.
Remember to always pack your essential baking and decorating tools that maybe needed when you reach your destination such as:
- Cake toppers (this should be bubble wrapped and placed in your hand luggage especially if they are fragile)
- Decorating tips and Piping bags
- Baking pans
- Cake Turn Tables
- Cake Scrappers
- If possible a small electric hand mixer or whisk