Anne Byrn's 5 Must-Try Tips for Winning the Holidays with Cake

Get these easy tips from the Cake Mix Doctor herself!

Anne Byrn Holiday Cake Tips Homemade
Photo: Allrecipes

Some people may consider using cake mix cheating, but Anne Byrn, better known as the Cake Mix Doctor, knows reaching for a box of cake mix is a huge timesaver — especially during the holiday season. Anne wrote her first cookbook, The Cake Mix Doctor, as a busy mom of three who would use cake mix as a foundation for Bundts and layer cakes for any occasion.

Now, more than 20 years later, she's still using boxes of cake mix to create easy and cost-effective masterpieces that taste just as good as from-scratch cakes. And on this week's episode of the Allrecipes podcast, Homemade, she shared her best tips and tricks for making successful cakes during the holiday season.

Plan Your Menu Early

Whether you make cakes, cookies, or anything else this holiday season, Anne says the most important thing to do is plan your baking ahead of time.

"Staging what you're going to bake for the holidays, thinking ahead, plan it, stage it. Much like, you know, a restaurant kitchen or a pastry chef might do. They could never make everything at the last minute, and we probably shouldn't try to either," she tells host Sabrina Medora.

Some great ideas may come at the last minute, but don't save all your holiday baking until the day before. And with the help of your freezer (see more on that below), you can bake weeks, even months, ahead of time.

Bake Your Cakes in a Springform Pan

You may want to go all out for the holidays with layered cakes but using a springform pan is an easy way to get a beautiful cake with just one step.

"Any kind of cake that you can bake in a springform pan and just put on a stand is so easy during the holidays because there [are not] all these layers to stack or frost. I really love using the springform pan to bake the entire recipe and then you can frost it," says Anne.

Simply bake your cake in the springform pan, and then you can use the frosting and decorations to really take your cake to the next level.

Nordic Ware Springform Pan

Nordic Ware Springform Pan

Try Using a Glaze

Sometimes frosting can be tricky and it's a little unforgiving. So instead of trying to hide your frosting mistakes from your friends and family, Anne suggests using a glaze instead.

Her new book A New Take on Cake, which was released in November, has a whole chapter filled with easy glazes you can use for any cake. Or look to Allrecipes' collection of dessert glazes to try.

Buy New, Interesting Pans

Just because it's the holiday season, doesn't mean you have to try a new recipe. Instead, you can make your traditional family-favorite cake, but this year, invest in a new pan.

"Something as simple as a new shape of a Bundt, like a heritage or a magnolia pan. They have different grooves and whatever. It's a nice change," says Anne.

5 Top-Rated Cake Pans to Buy on Amazon

Use Your Freezer

If you're baking your cakes ahead of time, Anne says you can store them in the freezer until the big day. Cakes that are not iced will keep well in the freezer — and some will even improve in texture, like pound cakes.

Simply remove your cake from the oven, let it cool, then place it on a cake round, wrap it in foil, and stick it in the freezer. Or you can wrap the cake in parchment paper or plastic wrap and put it in a Ziploc bag before freezing it, as well.

"The big two-gallon bags, those are great. You can recycle those. You can keep using those again and again. I do rinse them out and let them dry. But those are really great for freezing an entire cake or freezing like a 9x13 pan of cake, as well. And then some cakes you can freeze right in the pan," says Anne.

When you're ready to use the cake, simply take it out of the freezer, unwrap it, and let it thaw at room temperature on the counter. Then you can ice or glaze it.

Depending on what kind of freezer you have, your cakes will stay fresh for a while.

"If it's just the freezer for your refrigerator, a week or so because it's opened and shut so many times. But if it's a chest freezer, and upright in another part, maybe in the basement of your house? Oh, boy. Three to six months. Really depends on how many times it's opened and how well you wrap them," says Anne.

And it's not just cakes that can be frozen, Anne says you can freeze cookie dough, too. You can make a bunch of doughs, stash them in the freezer, and when you're ready to bake them just let them thaw in the refrigerator and pop them in the oven. And to make cookies even easier, you can make the dough with cake mix — recipes like this can be found in Anne's new cookbook A New Take on Cake.

Listen to the full episode of Homemade for more from Anne Byrn!

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