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I am a baker and want to offer ice cream cakes, consisting of actual cake with a layer of ice cream on top. I need the cake to stay as soft as possible when frozen. I know oil based cakes will do better than butter based cakes. Any other suggestions? What else I can do to help keep a cake soft when frozen? How do ice cream makers keep cake pieces soft in their ice cream? Thanks!

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I don’t think you can achieve room temperature softness but, I think you can start with the following considerations:

  • Minimize the water content: Eventually what will make your cake hard frozen is large ice crystals. For this you should experiment with the final water amount in your cake to minimize it. Resting the batter/dough overnight can help you hydrate the flour easier.

  • Increase the amount of ingredients that interfere with large crystal formation. To name a few:

    • Eggs (especially egg yolk) have various properties for inhibiting crystal formation.
    • Instead of sucrose (table sugar) use invert sugar syrup, which is pretty easy to make, that can help slow down the ice crystals forming.
    • Locust Bean Gum: this is a thickener known to reduce the ice crystals in ice-cream, and also has baking applications. This can be utilized as well.
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    In line with this answer, I've found that genoise-style sponge holds up well to refrigeration. It's a very light cake that has very little moisture. (Usually recipes call for only a tablespoon or two of milk or butter.) But I think what might make it good is the extremely light and airy texture. Store-bought freezer cakes I've had in the past also had a spongey or foamy texture. So the type of leavening might be another good variable to explore.
    – kitukwfyer
    Jul 5 '20 at 20:45
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Maybe too simple, but could you put ice cream on cake right before sale?

  1. Cake will be soft because it is unfrozen.

  2. Ice cream will be cold because it is frozen.

  3. You can make discs of ice cream in advance and store them between wax paper. Put one on the cake when you sell it.

  4. You will better utilize your freezer space because it will not be full of cake, only ice cream. You cannot stack cakes without risking the ones on the bottom getting smashed. You can stack ice cream.

  5. Separate premade ice cream discs and cake enables easy custom combos of cake and ice cream. If I want taro cake with pistachio ice cream on top you can do that, even though it is a combo you would never guess someone might want.

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  • Hey Willk! I honestly didn’t think about forming premise discs but I think it’s an idea I will definitely try! Jul 5 '20 at 7:09
  • .... Let us know if you try it? I feel like this might keep the ice cream from adhering to the cake?
    – kitukwfyer
    Jul 5 '20 at 20:39
  • @kitukwfyer: A solution to make sure cake stays on ice cream is to put ice cream disc on the bottom, not the top. That would also allow decoration of cake top as normal; also candles. If you are slow eating the cake it will not get soggy with melting ice cream.
    – Willk
    Jul 5 '20 at 21:10

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