PEI

Naked cakes: Sweet dreams are made of this hot trend

If you have weddings to go to this summer, chances are you'll be seeing the cupcake wedding tower of the past decade finally usurped by the latest hot dessert trend: the naked cake.

'They are so versatile and I think very approachable without being fussy'

'There's something pretty special and appealing about the naked cake trend,' says Christine Gallant from Sweet Things bakery in Summerside, P.E.I. (Submitted by Christine Gallant)

If you have weddings to attend this summer, chances are you'll be seeing the cupcake wedding tower of the past decade finally usurped by the latest hot dessert trend: the naked cake.

The mostly icing-less, rustic-yet-elegant cakes, usually topped with flowers or fruit, is the latest dessert trend and has been gaining steam for the last year or so.

It's really about fresh, beautiful ingredients and less about perfection.— Christine Gallant, Sweet Things

"I am always in awe of cake artists who make amazing fondant cakes with beautiful sugar work, but there's something pretty special and appealing about the naked cake trend," said Christine Gallant from Sweet Things bakery in Summerside, P.E.I., who sells at the local farmer's market and does custom orders.

'A great change'

Naked cakes are Gallant's "absolute favourite" cake to create, she said, versatile and approachable without being fussy.

Chelsea Willis of Butter bakery in Charlottetown created this naked cake for a backyard wedding last year, using vanilla sponge cake layered with fresh lemon curd and embellishing the top with edible 24-karat gold. (Submitted by Chelsea Willis )

They are a trendy cake of choice for many brides, particularly those having casual outdoor weddings or receptions in rustic locations, noted P.E.I. food blogger Barbara Mayhew, describing naked cakes as having "a nostalgic, romantic, vintage look to them.… There's something real, natural and genuine about naked cakes." 

"There's something so visually appealing about looking at one and knowing exactly what you're about to enjoy," said Chelsea Willis of Butter, a one-year-old custom cake business in Charlottetown.

"The perfectly stacked layers, the different colours and textures, the scents. It's a great change from the overly done, artificial-looking cakes," Willis said. 

'Clear winner'

"In my part of the Island they are becoming the clear winner over cupcakes these days," said Gallant, noting "our own daughter who is getting married this year has asked for a naked cake." 

'Naked' cakes with sparse icing like this are a hot trend, writes Barbara Mayhew, who made this cake to celebrate My Island Bistro Kitchen's 5-year 'blogiversary.' (Submitted by Barbara Mayhew)

Candi Clements from Candi's Cakes and Lunch Counter on Great George Street in Charlottetown has been making cakes for 20 years and also loves naked cake trend — her orders for them are definitely up this year, she said. 

"It's less icing and more of a look they like. Every year its something different," she noted. 

"They look so simple and elegant," she added, saying naked cakes take her the same amount of time to create as other cakes, to make it look right.

'Not much to hide behind'

"In some ways they are quite challenging to pull off because there's not much to hide behind," Gallant noted. And, the reverse is true: naked cakes also offer the opportunity to showcase the actual cake inside.

'A lot of people like the naked cakes with fruit and powered sugar on them. I think they look beautiful!' says Candi of Candi's Cakes and Lunch Counter in Charlottetown. (Submitted by Candi's Cakes and Lunch Counter)

Naked cakes can work for every occasion, be it birthday, anniversary, shower or just because, Gallant added, making a marvellous framework for fresh flowers, fruit, greenery or even paper flowers.

"I can make a quick dessert that looks like a million bucks, especially if I add some colourful fresh fruit and berries and/or flowers to the top," said Mayhew, noting it's a lot less work and expense than making and rolling out fondant or putting on tons of buttercream.

"It's challenging to create a flawless-looking, undamaged tier of cake that is structurally sound," noted Willis. 

Pro tips

To make a naked cake properly, you need to have "a good sturdy cake that releases from the baking pan well," advised Jennifer Prinz from City View Bakehouse.

Naked cakes 'make a marvellous framework for fresh flowers, fruit, greenery,' says Christine Gallant of Sweet Things bakery. (Submitted by Christine Gallant )

Another consideration is that since some of the cake is exposed to air, the sides can dry out if left uncovered — Prinz covers the sides of her naked cakes in food-grade acetate until the last minute. 

Candi Clements' trick is keeping the cake moist with sugar and water spray until it's ready to serve, while Barbara Mayhew either makes hers at the last minute or stores them in an air-tight container. 

"Make sure you have a delicious cake," is Gallant's top tip. "It's really about fresh, beautiful ingredients and less about perfection. I love the imperfect nature anyway, to me that's a perfect cake."

Chelsea Willis at Butter created this naked vanilla cake filled with peanut butter ganache, covered in vanilla buttercream and salted caramel, topped with French macarons and fresh flowers. (Submitted by Chelsea Willis )

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca