Something I get asked often is how long will my fresh cake keep for? Well, there is no simple answer to this questions as there are so many factors to take into consideration here, but as a general rule, a sponge cake will stay fresh for around 3-5 days if stored correctly. By sponge cake, I'm talking your Victoria Sandwich kinda cake, NOT a whisked fatless sponge, which will typically only keep for a day or two before going stale.
Now this does of course vary depending on the type of cake and the ingredients it contains. I find that cakes made with oil generally have a longer keeping time than those made with butter. Take for example a carrot cake which is often made with oil, will stay moist for days after making. The addition of any fruit or vegetables will add extra moisture and stop it drying out so quickly, although one must bear in mind that such fresh ingredients will actually make the cake more perishable, particularly if it is not kept cool.
Rich fruit cakes on the other hand will literally keep for months, or even YEARS. In fact, they actually get better with age..particularly if fed with alcohol. Typically these are made a few weeks or more before eating to allow the cake to 'mature' just like you might do with a fine wine...not that I know much about wine!
Now if you want to keep your cake fresher for longer you'll want to ensure that it is stored correctly. Firstly remember that clingfilm is your friend! If you have cut into your cake you'll want to stop those sliced edges from drying out so stick on a little bit of clingfilm and that will do the job nicely. If your cake is fully iced, this will act as a barrier and prevent moisture loss from the cake so there is no need for them to be wrapped- just loosely covered to protect it from the outside elements (ie dust, bugs, hair etc..). For an uniced cake, you can wrap this in clingfilm or foil, or use a good old tupperware box, that's if you can find a lid of course.
Should you refridgerate your cake? Well, in most cases no. Most cakes keep just fine at room temperature, it's only necessary to pop them in the fridge if it is a particularly hot day. The exception to this is if your cake has fresh cream, fresh fruit, cream cheese, or other more perishable ingredients. These are best kept refridgerated until no more than 4 hours before serving and should ideally be eaten within aday or two, which isn't all that difficult if you like cake!
The best way to see how long your cake will stay fresh? Taste it! There's really no strict rule of 'you must throw out your cake after x amount of days'. The only way to know is to try it for yourself. I always say if it looks ok and smells alright then it's probably edible so go for it- who wants to waste cake!
Thank you so much for reading, and if you have a question for me then please do let me know in the comments below!