What's a Naked Cake (and Why Is It Naked?)

What's a Naked Cake (and Why Is It Naked?)

Meghan Splawn
May 19, 2017
(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Barely there frosting was once only seen by bakers between as a crumb coat before the final layer of frosting was added, but now naked cakes have moved from verified trend to bakery staple. These cakes, easily recognized by their exposed layers and minimal garnishes, have become a staple style for everything from homemade birthday cakes to multi-tiered wedding cakes. More than just a cake with less frosting, here's everything you need to know about the naked-cake trend and why you might actually want to try it at home.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

What Is a Naked Cake?

A naked cake is easily recognized by its absent or minimal outer layer of frosting, which shows off the cake's natural texture and filling. Some naked cakes have zero frosting on their outer edge, while others have just a wisp of buttercream. The cake for naked cake is most often white or yellow, although you can find naked cakes in every flavor from chocolate to funfetti.

Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame is credited with popularizing the trend around 2014. Tosi says that leaving the frosting off the sides of the cake allows the cakes and filling flavors to shine through. But there are many more reasons to make your next cake a naked one.

5 Good Reasons for Making Naked Cakes

  1. You want to show off the cake and filling. If you spent a lot of time making a beautiful cake and a lush filling, skip the frosting and let their color and texture shine through. Avoid the thin layer of frosting sometimes used on naked cakes for this application and go completely frosting-free.
  2. You're short on frosting. You got your cake filled and stacked and, oops, you are short on frosting! Just skip it for a cake that is just as flavorful but less sweet.
  3. You're serving cake on a hot day. Summer brides often opt for naked cake, as buttercream can melt in the hot summer sun. Be sure to use a jam- or meringue-based filling, if temperature is one of the reasons for minimal frosting.
  4. You want something beautifully rustic. Naked cakes offer a texture and visual appeal that frosting can't replicate. These unadorned cakes are especially at home in backyard weddings or baby showers.
  5. You want something easy to decorate. Naked cakes are perfect for those of us who feel nervous about frosting a multi-layer cake. Focus on making beautiful cake layers and a tasty filling and your cake will only need a swipe of frosting on top.
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