Welcome to my first Tip Tuesday article! These are going to be quick reference guides for a wide variety of cooking and baking topics, and this week’s edition is going to be how to make a perfect naked cake.
I get it—if you haven’t heard the term before, it might throw you off a little bit. A naked cake is just a cake decorating style where the cake doesn’t have frosting. Skipping the frosting does speed up the decorating process, but there are still a few things you’ll need to consider. How do you make sure the cakes come out perfectly so you don’t need to hide anything with frosting (because let’s get real—frosting covers a multitude of sins)? How do you keep it from drying out? And how do you make sure it still looks beautiful?
Preparation Is Key.
For this, your best bet is to start off with a nonstick spray that has flour in it. I’ve found that the traditional method of greasing and flouring a cake pan in two separate steps often leaves a visible layer of the mixture like a crust around the sides of the cake. Not exactly attractive. Using a spray will help prevent that residue from sticking to your cake—just make sure to coat the corners of the pan!
After you spray the pan with the nonstick spray, you’ll want to place a layer of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan. Trace the shape of the bottom of the pan on the parchment, and cut it to fit. It does take a couple extra minutes to do this step, especially if you’re working with multiple layers, but the end result is so worth it.
How To Handle The Cake After Baking
When the cake is done baking, check to see if you need to run a knife along the edge of the pan. Typically, when a cake is done baking in a pan prepped like how I describe above, the edges of the cake will pull away from the sides of the pan on their own. However, if it needs an extra nudge, run a paring knife along the edge of the pan before you try to flip the cakes out.
When you flip the cakes out of the pan, you’ll want to do that directly onto a cooling rack. Place the rack upside down on top of the pan, and hold on tight as you flip it over. (You also might want to use potholders for this, as the cake and pan will still be very warm.) Gently remove the pan, and peel off the parchment paper. The end result should be a clean, perfectly intact cake that’s ready to go!
How To Keep It From Drying Out
One of the main points of frosting is to make sure that the cake stays moist. Since we’re taking that out of the equation, we still need some way to keep the cake from becoming dry and crumbly.
My favorite way is to brush a simple syrup over all the sides. Boil equal parts sugar and water (and any extra flavoring, if you want to add an extra touch to the cake) together for about 5 minutes on high heat, then let it cool completely before using a pastry brush to brush a thin, even layer of the syrup all over the cake. Keep the cake in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve.
What About Decorations?
Naked cakes most often seem to go with more rustic settings, like a mountain- or forest-themed wedding. With that in mind, fresh fruits or edible flowers are great options for dress up this naked cake. Also, a dusting of powdered sugar is a classic finishing touch.
And there you go! If you want to wow your family and friends at your next get-together, pull out your favorite cake recipe and try this minimalist decorating style!