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There's no doubt about it, naked cakes are having a moment. Baking and decorating one of these beauties might seem like a daunting project, but we'll let you in on a little secret: it's not as hard as it looks, provided you have some guidance and the right tools. (I wouldn't recommend attempting a tiered wedding cake on your first go, but a three-to-four-layer situation is totally doable.) Here, we break it all down for you, so you can have your cake and eat it too.
Before you begin decorating, you'll need to bake and completely cool three to four cake layers and prepare a large batch of buttercream frosting (this is not the time for seven-minute or whipped-cream-based frosting, as they're not sturdy enough). I made one and a half times this frosting recipe and had some, but not an outrageous amount, leftover. A note on the cake layers: since the sides will be naked, and therefore visible, take extra care to prep your pan, so that the layers will release neatly. We used Williams-Sonoma's excellent goldtouch nonstick pans (8-inch), but any nonstick pan should do the trick. For extra insurance, we also prepped the pans by lining with parchment, greasing, and flouring.