Moldy Cakes, Pies and Bread? Yuck

Adair Hoover, Home & Garden Information Center
Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service

HTF 1216

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The holidays are high season for baking breads, cakes and pies. Bakers are taking extra time to achieve perfect results, seeking fresh ingredients and using high quality recipes. These baked treats take extra time, money and effort but the result is a great final product. Home baked foods are often preservative free. The preservatives, used in retail baked foods, help extend the storage time but are not necessarily needed for home. Fresh and preservative free is extra tasty but may be more prone to mold growth when not properly stored. Most baked foods are best held at room temperature as refrigeration can promote staling but some need refrigeration for quality and safety.

Mold on Pumpkin Bread
Mold on Pumpkin Bread
Adair Hooverm ©2016 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Home baked foods that are most prone to quick molding are “extra moist” and/or made with low acid ingredients. A good example of this is the moldy pumpkin bread pictured above. This very moist bread was made with fresh pumpkin (a low acid food). It was stored in a plastic container on the counter for 2 days. On the morning of day 3 guess what appeared? Yes, that is a spot of mold.

So what could have been done to prolong the shelf life of the pumpkin bread?
It could have been refrigerated. Some common baked foods that need to be refrigerated are:  

  • Cheese cakes and cakes that have fresh fruit fillings and cakes made with cream cheese icings.
  • Moist breads and breads that have zucchini, pumpkin or banana added.
  • Pies including: custard, chiffon, pumpkin and fruit pies.

And what should you do if mold appears?

Unfortunately, if you find that your baked food has mold on it you should discard it. Don’t scrape off the mold and eat it. Surface molds can root down deep into the food. Some molds can be dangerous causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Even sniffing the mold can cause a reaction. And a few molds can product mycoxins, a poisonous substance that can make you sick.

If you are a baker don’t let your hard work go to waste from improper storage. For details and storage time see HGIC 3522, Food Storage: Refrigerator & Freezer.

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