What Is a Naked Cake? (and Why You Should Give it a Try.)

Does this decorating trend take the cake?

Bride and groom with conjoined hands on a knife, slicing into a three-tiered vanilla cake with no frosting that is topped with pink flowers

Shutterstock / Cristalov

Cakes are arguably the most important part of any celebration. It wouldn’t be a birthday, wedding or baby shower without one. As the centerpiece of a party, a cake’s flavor and decoration are incredibly important. So it’s easy to see why the baking world let out a collective gasp when it witnessed a style trend called “naked cake.”

What is a naked cake?

This term describes a cake that is completely bare (or nearly so) on the outside. Yup, you heard right: no frosting swirls or colorful piped patterns. Imagine a simple golden-brown sponge atop your cake stand. But don’t worry, the flavor’s still there. Naked cakes are designed as layer cakes that proudly tout thick stripes of buttercream or chocolate ganache filling. Without the typical outer coat, the interior of the cake is completely exposed. Trust us, nothing’s left to the imagination.

How did it get popular?

Where did this strange idea come from? In 2014, the chef, founder and owner of Milk Bar, Christina Tosi, began selling naked cakes for $400 apiece. Tosi believed that the most exciting, textural, interesting parts of the cake were the decadent layers-and she didn’t understand why bakers always tried to hide them. A delicious layered cake (much like this one!) could speak for itself, she figured. Two years later, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt served a naked cake at their wedding and bam! Faster than you can say “hold the frosting,” naked cakes were everywhere.

A naked cake’s (delicious) benefits

Some critics may think it’s a little cheap or tacky to display your dessert au naturel, but there are several advantages. For starters, this style shows off the lush cake fillings while casting an organic, rustic vibe that pairs perfectly with backyard parties. For another, having a naked cake removes any opportunity of finding yourself with a failed design-or worse, a misspelling-on your big day. Sometimes simple truly is better. Finally, it’s a tad healthier and a little less sweet than its fully frosted counterpart. If you’re the type who prefers cake to its sugary topping, you’re looking at your ideal dessert. (For the rest of us, we’ll take an order of homemade frosting on the side.)

Looking to make your own? Keep the following tips in mind:

If you’re intrigued by the concept, give this baking trend a shot. But be cautious. Making a cake without that thick outer casing can be tricky because there’s no room to cover mistakes. A small nugget of advice: Learn how to properly grease a cake pan. Plus, without extra icing the cake may dry out quicker than a typical cake. If you’re saving it for later, keep the finished cake in an air-tight container. Our most important tip? Have fun. Cake decoration is all about self-expression. Instead of icing, go crazy with fruit toppings or powdered sugar. The frosting-free possibilities are endless.

Whether you like the idea of bare-faced cakes or not, you have to admit that these stylish slices look downright delicious. If nothing else, the naked cake trend proves it’s what’s inside that counts. Especially when the inside is made of gooey layers of coconut-pecan filling-I’m looking at you, German Chocolate Cake!

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