Top tips for creating that perfect naked cake…
I think naked cakes first became popular last year and they match the whole rustic, barn-feel type of wedding looking fresh, sweet and unpretentious yet oh-so-pretty. Because they have such a natural, organic look to them I personally don’t think sugar flowers or fancy decorations work that well, and fresh fruit pops out so much more! For me these cakes are purely about the baking and the taste; you need light edges, even bakes and overall a sturdy but fluffy sponge! It’s a real chance to let your baking skills shine through.
I was first asked to create one last year for a lovely couple who were working with Special Days party planners and I was initially excited, but then a bit scared! I mean how did it stay upright all day never mind the worry of it staying lovely and fresh. It was time to go back to basics and do some research! I’ve since learnt the key to setting up a naked cake is all in the preparation.
So, here are my Top 7 tips to help with the whole naked cake set up:
1. Bake your cakes as last minute as possible. I was setting up this weekend’s naked cake 9.30am so I baked the night before at 8pm(ish). Within 24 hours of set-up is ideal though. Once cooled, take out the tin, level, brush with sugar syrup (50:50 boiled water and sugar – let it cool too) and wrap each level in cling film a couple oftimes. I bake in sandwich tins so I just slice the top off for ease, but if you bake in deep tins and plan to split your cakes try to get each layer the same height.
2. Assemble at the venue. Yep, really. Take your icing mixed up in a bowl and your equipment. Be organised! Pack everything and check it… twice. I have assembled each tier at home before but it was a little scary transporting them knowing they could topple/tilt very easily. If you do this I would suggest chilling for 30 minutes before sitting off (I don’t like this as I worry it dries out the sponge.)
3. Take a small spirit level! (Every cake maker should have one of these in their tool kit) especially if you are using a cut-off tree stump (another popular trend). They are very rarely perfectly level and you will need to adjust. I use cling film again to even out if needed as you can squash/manoeuvre it around underneath the tree stump quite easily. If you work surface is level your cake will be level too.
4. Don’t worry about a buttercream dam as if your jam seeps out – it doesn’t matter, it’s all part of the look! So spread that jam generously, and pipe your buttercream in a large swirl (again for evenness). You can even add sliced fruit at this stage as a little surprise for when the cake is sliced up. Now add your layers and build that cake!
5. Once you’ve layered the bottom tier dowel as you would any other cake. Use dowels that are easy to cut too (remembering to take your scissors.) I prefer these poly-dowels and I use 5 dowels per tier (8 for 12″+ sizes). Also, use a cake card as you would with any other tiered cake. Before I place the card down and begin the next tier I also put a blob of buttercream down to help it stay in place & again on top of the card underneath the first cake layer.
6. Carry on until each tier is stacked and assembled whilst every so often pressing down a little and checking all is still level.
7. Now is the time to add your decorations. I personally prefer to use fruit that is in season and that you can go and pick yourself. I appreciate this isn’t always possible but try to stick as seasonal as possible (unless your bride has of course requested a certain fruit) secure the largest pieces with a small blob of buttercream but the rest will simply fit in. Finally, and one of my most favourite parts – dust with lots of pretty icing sugar.
There we go, my top tips for a successful naked cake. Follow these and you can be sure of a successful end result. One more tip – chill out and enjoy it! I now love these cakes and can’t wait to crack on with the rest I have booked in this year. I’ve luckily got a few variations in too, salted caramel fillings, melted chocolate, crushed hazelnuts. I wonder if I can wangle an invite just to enjoy a slice… 😉