I mentioned to you guys my new love of naked cakes. I think they are so classic and elegant and just have that rustic, homemade loveliness that I adore.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about the frosting on a cake. In fact almost all my baking is with box cake mix and homemade frosting. I always feel like the frosting makes or breaks the cake. So this is not a dry cake and doesn’t leave you disappointed. You can still be quite generous with the frosting and any fillings you might like but you avoid that sometimes overly sweet and sugary taste of standard cake.
So give a naked cake a shot! They really are incredibly simple to make and you can top them with pretty flowers or fresh fruit.
The cake that I made is lemon cake with buttercream frosting and lemon curd and topped with fresh blueberries. I thought it was delicious and we served this at a recent party. I asked my husband if people seemed to like the cake and he said “Geez I thought the guy next to me was going to eat the plate. He devoured it!” Normally my husband would have said “yup. good.” and that would be about it so that was very, very high praise indeed.
So here is the step by step to make your own Naked Cake:
I baked one cake with a box mix and separated the batter into two 8″ pans. For thicker layers, you might bake the entire package in one cake pan (or use your favorite from scratch mix.) Choose the prettier of the two cakes and set aside for the top. Your cake will be stacked upside down so you want to look for any little marks or whatever on the bottom side as you can see from mine pictured above.
Next you want to take the top side of the cake, and using a sharp knife, trim the top to create a flat, even surface.
I just ran a knife back and forth and eyeballed both layers to make them as flat as possible.
If you want to really be certain your layers are perfectly even, you can take a ruler and measure up your cake about 3/4 of the way high. At that point (say 1″ high)- gently skewer a toothpick into the side of the cake. Do that same process four times total on each side of the cake. Gently and carefully use a knife to trim the cake just under the toothpicks all the way around and that will serve as a guide to cut perfectly even on all sides.
Once you have that top portion trimmed flat, flip your cake over onto a cake plate. I put mine directly on my serving stand. The bottom of the cake will be on top and the part you trimmed laying facedown.
Next you want to place your frosting on the cake- starting in the center and bring the frosting almost but not quite to the edge of the cake. I used a thin layer of buttercream- check continuously as you add layers to be sure the cake stays level.
Once the buttercream was spread in an even layer, I added a large dollop of lemon curd. (Recipes below.)
At this point you can stick with just frosting, add any jam or fruit puree or fresh fruit or lemon or lime curd. Yum! If you are using fresh fruit be sure to place it on the cake slowly so the layers stay nice and even.
Place the second cake layer directly on top of the frosting. Now with a Ziplock bag or a piping bag, carefully fill the space between the layers with frosting in a nice steady circle all the way around the cake.
Gently with your finger or a knife, run back around the circle of frosting so it doesn’t look like a big oozing bubble but rather flat as pictured above.
And now you can decide if you’d like to leave the top of the cake unfrosted or frosted. Unfrosted is quite pretty – especially with a generous sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar. I decided to go ahead and frost mine on top- again not all the way to the edges.
I decided to add a third layer to my cake following the same process and once finished with the top, I carefully plopped blueberries on top. They do roll off so I just gently placed them in the frosting where they stayed in place. As a last step, I sprinkled confectioner’s sugar on top.
You can leave the sides of the cake alone or taking a knife, gently smear frosting on the sides. I really like how it looks both ways. This is a strawberry cake I made where I skipped the extra smear of frosting on the side:
And really that is it! So simple and so pretty. I have tried naked cakes with flowers and with fruit and the fruit is by far much simpler to do. I think a few sprigs of mint with my fruit cakes would have really been lovely- next time.
If you do use flowers, use the same process as outlined above. Since flowers can be sprayed with various chemicals, you might consider wrapping the stem of the flower in saran wrap and then tuck it into the cake on the sides and the top.
One more look at the finished product:
A few other recipes you might enjoy: