If you’ve been anywhere near the internet within the past year (and I’m assuming you have since you’re reading this), you’ve probably become well acquainted with naked cakes. They’re so hot right now, SO hot (yes, I DID just make a Zoolander reference) and the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. I know not everyone loves them, but I have to admit, I think they’re pretty gorgeous. I kind of have a thing for understated cakes. And also any cake that doesn’t require me to spend hours trying to perfectly smooth out the frosting. Because, seriously guys, ain’t nobody got time for them!
What you’ll need:
A cake (3+ layers look best)
Piping bags and tips
An offset spatula
I know for this tutorial the “what you’ll need” list is pretty open, but that’s because you can really use whatever you want; Any cake flavor goes, pretty much any kind of frosting as long as it’s sturdy enough to support however many layers/tiers you’ll be stacking (personally, I like to use American buttercream and Swiss meringue buttercream), and the frosting tips and garnishes will depend on the overall look you want for the cake. Since a naked cake is any cake that does not have an outer layer of frosting, these kinds of cakes are open to quite a bit of variation. But if you’re looking for somewhere to start, here are three easy variations.
The Traditional Naked Cake
The traditional version of the naked cake is quite simple: it sandwiches layers of cake and frosting, with little to no crumb coat around the outside. To make this cake, you’re going to need your cake, frosting, a piping bag with a large round tip, and an offset spatula. Start by piping a layer of frosting on your bottom layer of cake, and smoothing it out with your offset spatula. Work you way up until all of your layers are frosted. You can stop at this point if you don’t want any frosting on the outside, or you can give the outside a light crumb coat to help seal in some of the moisture.
I first saw this version of the naked cake at Miette’s in San Francisco, and I immediately fell in love. The best part: it’s so easy to make! To make this cake, you’ll need your cake, frosting, a piping bag with a large star tip, and your offset spatula. Starting with the bottom layer, pipe your frosting onto the cake. Smooth out the center area of the cake, leaving the outer edge textured. Work your way up until you’ve frosted all of your layers, including the top.
This style of naked cake adds a little more texture to the traditionally smooth frosting. To make it, you’ll need your cake, frosting, and a piping bag with a large round tip. Starting with the bottom layer, pipe small dollops around the edge working your way in towards the center. Depending on the type of cake and frosting you’re working with, you might need to crumb coat your layers first to get the frosting to stick. Work your way up until all of your layers are frosted (whether that includes the top of the cake or not is completely optional).
Garnishing Your Cake
Now for the fun part! Naked cakes don’t require garnishes, but a garnish will help draw the whole cake together and add little pops of color (on their own, naked cakes can look a little bland). Although the sky’s the limit on garnishes for these cakes, a few popular options are fruits (especially berries), real flowers, herbs, powdered sugar (particularly if you’re using berries), minimal frosting decorations, and paper cake toppers. These cakes are understated and rustic, so whatever garnish you choose should match.
A little cake note about using real flowers: many cake decorators advise against using real flowers on cakes because most flowers are grown without human consumption in mind. This means that you could potentially be putting pesticide-riden, dirty, bug-infested, not to mention potentially poisonous flowers on your cake. Any old flowers will NOT do in this case. If you plan on putting real flowers on your cake, make sure you’re using edible, organically grown flowers. They may cost a little extra, but they’re well worth it!