How to Decorate a Naked Cake in 5 Easy Steps

POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry
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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.

01
Level Off the Cake Layers
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Level Off the Cake Layers

Use a serrated knife to trim away the domed tops of each cake layer. This will help you create a sturdy, evenly frosted cake.

02
Secure Your Cake's Base
POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry

Secure Your Cake's Base

Pipe a dollop of frosting in the center of your cake stand or plate — we used a marble cheese board for a modern, unfussy look — then center your first cake layer on the cake stand, and press down to adhere.

03
Pipe on the Frosting
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Pipe on the Frosting

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (we used Ateco's #804), carefully pipe a ring of frosting around the outer edge of the cake, taking care to merge the ends neatly as it will be visible. Then, pipe a spiral of frosting within, covering the entire layer. Stack the next cake layer on top, pressing down gently, and repeat the frosting procedure. Stack one more layer on top, and repeat the frosting procedure.

04
Smooth Out the Frosting
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Smooth Out the Frosting

Using a large offset spatula, smooth out the frosting on top of the cake.

05
Decorate
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Decorate

Decorate with fresh berries, flowers (be sure they're nontoxic), or whatever your heart desires. Then admire your handiwork!

06
Enjoy!
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Enjoy!

Since the cake isn't entirely frosted, be sure to serve it within 24 hours or so, as it will dry out much faster than a conventionally frosted layer cake, even when covered.