Naked cakes: Sweet dreams are made of this hot trend

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.

"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.

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 and chef 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." 

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.

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.

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."

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