Going Naked


                I need to preface this article by stating the opinions expressed herein are mine alone and do not reflect on the opinions of Cake Decorating Corner.

One of the biggest trends we are seeing for wedding cakes these days is “Naked” cakes.  A naked cake is basically a tiered cake with filling (usually fresh fruit) that has a very thin (if at all) coating of buttercream.  I just don’t get it.  What is so appealing about a naked cake?  Although I have friends that have made some beautiful naked cakes, to me, a naked cake doesn’t stand out the way a fondant (or buttercream) covered cake does.  The cake below is courtesy of my friend Chrissie Boon from Too Nice To Slice.  Visually appealing? Yes.  But still not my cup of tea.

                While I am not against cakes decorated entirely in buttercream, I am indeed “Team Fondant” all the way!  There is just so much more I am able to do with fondant to make a cake look like a piece of art.  A fondant covered cake is the perfect blank canvas.

I feel as a cake designer, it is our job to guide our clients accordingly.  If a bride is wanting a naked cake because she is going for a rustic feel, then there are other options that include buttercream and/or fondant.  And this doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have a tree bark cake.  Often brides are looking for guidance.  They only know what they have seen in magazines and on bridal websites.

I  bake on a schedule, and the thought of having to bake last minute for a naked cake worries me when it takes time away from decorating other cakes for the weekend, especially during peak wedding season.  Which brings me to another concern – peak wedding season in my neck of the woods is July through September.  Temperatures can get to 100 degrees Farenheit.  The fact that a naked cake is more exposed to the elements than a fondant covered cake is definitely a factor.  Many of these cakes use fillings of fresh fruit and cream.  I’d be worried something would spoil in the heat, even if the venue is indoors and air conditioned.

Photo Courtesy of Too Nice To Slice

I also feel that if you are going to make a naked cake, you still need to remember the basics of stacking.  I have seen too many horror show photos of naked cakes that were lop-sided and tilting.  The designers post them in various social media groups looking for accolades.  I have read some of the posts where people comment that the cake doesn’t look well supported etc….to which the designer would answer, “there are no boards under the different tiers because they would be seen” or, “there is no central dowel”.    When I see this type of reply, I cringe…it makes my skin boil.  That is when I take deep breaths, count to ten and then reply.  I am not an expert on naked cakes, nor am I saying I know everything there is to know about cake – I am the first person to say we all continue learning daily.  I have never made a naked cake.  However, common sense would tell me it needs to have sound structure.  Throw some bubble tea straws in each tier.  Run a central dowel to keep it straight and stable.  Worried the cake board will be seen?  Use a board a size smaller than your cake.

I hope this article has not offended anyone – it is not my intention.  What I do hope you get from reading this is that if you are so inclined to make a naked cake, please remember that the fundamentals still apply.

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Sandra Smiley's picture

I completely agree that it is as important to provide the proper support for a "naked" cake as for any other. I must admit, though, that I am in love with the look of a well done naked or near naked cake. It is also a great choice for people who are not fond of a lot of frosting or fondant.