You may have read my article in BubbleLife during Valentine’s week about the red velvet cake. I hope you did. It was so much fun to write and exciting to visit with Charlie Romano, the pastry chef at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Not to mention, I loved having a local homemaker, Margaret Wilson, who is known for her red velvet cakes, make one specially for my article.
My newest cake enthusiasm is the “naked cake.”
How did I learn about this nude phenomenon? Along with a great part of Lakewood residents, I was in Fine Nails at Skillman and Live Oak last week having my nails done. Also like many of the customers who have their nails done at Fine Nails, while my nails were drying, I was flipping through the pages of one of the many tabloids the establishment provides for customer reading material. Things to remember: “What happens at Fine Nails, stays at Fine Nails.”
While flipping through the pages of the magazines, a photo of a tiered cake caught my eye. I thought the unusual cake was beautiful. The cake was shown during a feature showcasing an expectant celebrity’s baby shower.
The caption under the photo of the tiered cake referred to it as a “naked cake.”
Later that afternoon, I began asking friends and other people I ran into if they’d heard about a naked cake. They all said no, but guessed it was a cake without any frosting.
And they were right! A naked cake is bare of most frosting. No frosting is applied to the sides of the cake and its decorations are usually sparse and natural, giving the cake a rustic look. Fresh flowers and fruits, nature’s bounty, make ideal toppings for naked cakes.
If the cake type sounds trendy — it probably is. Nevertheless, I became fascinated by the look of the cake and I sat about to research and make one myself.
My first attempt was a no-fail, one-layer chocolate cake that I topped with fresh strawberries. Strawberries are in season right now, making them very affordable, even for experimenting. I used a premium cake mix that included a cream cheese based frosting mix. It turned out great After all, it was the nudity not the flavor I wanted to savor.
Still obsessed by the exposed cake, I quickly graduated to two layers. This time, I chose a carrot cake for its dense texture. I dressed the cake with a bunch of tiny, fresh baby carrots with their lacy green fronds still intact. Although not necessarily my intention, the finished cake would be a pretty addition to an Easter buffet.
I wanted the frosting that does show to be a thick mound, like you see on cupcakes at many bakeries. The key to getting that look according to the decorator’s at Kroger’s bakery on Mockingbird Lane is applying the frosting from a decorator’s bag.
Snip the end of a disposable bag to make an opening the size of somewhere between a dime and a nickel. Decorator bags can be purchased anywhere cake supplies are sold. In our area M.J. Design on Greenville Avenue has a good selection. Fill the bag with icing, and begin squeezing the icing in a circle until the top of the cake is covered, but not the sides.
If you go higher than two layers, one article I read suggested that you not assemble the cake too far in advance of serving. I also stored my cake in the refrigerator to keep the icing firm and well-mounded until I was ready to serve it.
Some bakeries are promoting naked cakes for weddings, especially for a rustic themed event.
Jamie Eckert at Celebrity Bakery (651 Highland Park Village off Mockingbird Lane) said the naked cake is a modern trend and is becoming more popular for wedding cakes.
Eckert is a young decorator, bringing youthful ideas to the art.
“I like them. They are different,” Eckert said. “They are more popular in South Texas where there are more outdoor weddings with rustic themes,” she added.
There are pros and cons to the un-iced cake. Some decorators think the cake looks unfinished. Others fear the cake may dry out and be less tasty.
Personally, I am not sure that I would choose a naked cake for something as traditional as a wedding, but for a “quick change,” I think the cake is fun. And I will be eternally grateful to the tabloids for providing me with this great entertainment.