The Reality of the Naked Cake by Tori Rogers, Owner of Hawaii Weddings by Tori Rogers
Maui Wedding Cakes
Is your cake getting naked for your wedding? Inspired by pastry chef Christina Tosi of the Momofuku Milk Bar, the naked cake has become an accessory to the rustic, organic themed wedding. Chris Spinosa, Chef at Ko Bakery on Kauai, explains, “For those couples attempting to achieve a more rustic feel for their event, naked cakes can provide an opportunity to express that in the visual aspect of the food they are serving.” These unfrosted, unfinished pieces of art have their pros and cons, and we interviewed three different pastry chefs in Hawaii to get the inside scoop.
The appeal of a naked cake? Like Marie GiGi Audant, Baker and Owner of Ghiselani Designer Cakes on Maui, says, “There are no surprises when you see a Naked Wedding Cake displayed on the Wedding Cake Table. The colorful texture of the cakes are on display: Red Velvet, Lemon and Vanilla. The scents attract you. Right away you know what you are going to eat.” In this way, they truly are pieces of art. The inside of the cake becomes as much of an integral part of the cake’s appearance as the natural elements you select for its décor. The cake’s batter and fillings will vary in color and texture, and it is the contrast that creates part of its unique appearance. The entire cake is a photo op. not just its exterior.
Ghiselani Designer Cakes
Those ordering these trendy treats for their weddings are unconventional couples who live a more naturally healthy lifestyle and want to do away with tradition. Chef Chris elaborates, “By selecting a naked cake, couples would certainly feel like they are doing something of the moment. When they look back at photos of their event in later years, I think they will be transported to this particular point in time.” The couple who appreciates the skill required to create this cake is necessary, too, because these cakes require even more preparation time and skill than a frosted cake. Marie shares that it is challenging to create a flawless looking, undamaged tier of cake, and have it withstand the décor that it is added to it. While the outdoors can dry out your cake, an iced cake will sweat and fall, whereas a naked cake will withstand the heat and humidity.
Chef Chris divides naked cakes into these three types or categories:
1) Crumb Coats – in this instance, the final product essentially looks like a cake that just has a crumb coat, a thin veneer of buttercream. This is generally the least pristine finish for a cake. It is very, very difficult for a decorator to keep the inevitable crumbs from being seen in the buttercream, because the layers are only lightly skimmed with buttercream.
2) Linear Exposed Sides – these cakes are typically “built” using a ring mold, thus keeping any extra buttercream from spilling out past the edge of the cake. With these cakes you would get a very clean, linear profile to the sides and no buttercream covering the cake layers at all.
3) Free-Form Exposed Sides – with this type, the buttercream bulges slightly from between the layers. You can still see the exposed cake (with no buttercream covering the sides of the layers), but the buttercream tends to extend slightly beyond the vertical edges of the cake.
Our concern regarding naked cakes as wedding planners is dryness and change in flavor. No one wants to eat a cake that is dried out or flavorless. Cheryl Logsdon, Owner of Maui Wedding Cakes on Maui, reveals that the request for the true version of the naked cake “is morphing into what I call the Semi-Naked Cake trend. When we do the Naked cake we will only use buttercream based fillings. If you used whipped cream based fillings they will be exposed to the air both in the fridge and when they are on the cake table, and the heat and humidity will cause the edges to get crusty pretty quickly. However, if you go with the Semi-Naked cake, then you can use the more flavorful whipped cream based fillings as the light coating of buttercream icing on the outside is just enough to keep the air off of the filling. For Hawaii weddings we feel this is a better way to go.” Chef Chris agrees that without the buttercream, both the consistency and structure of the cake can be affected, especially with larger cakes and during transport. He explains, “By removing a third of the buttercream in selecting a naked finish, the flavor and texture profile will be altered substantially. Couples should keep this in mind when they are considering how they want their cake to taste, not just look;” Marie’s tip to avoid a dry naked cake is to “try to seal the sides of your cake with a glaze coating to keep the moisture in…like a Citrus Grand Marnier glaze, to excite your appetite.”
Maui Wedding Cakes
Another concern as wedding planners is securing the decorations in the cake long enough for display and photos and without compromising its structure. Typically the icing provides a sort of glue for the décor, but a naked cake’s décor is placed directly into the cake. Chef Chris explains there are limitations for the cake decorator in terms of where and how to place florals and other decorative elements onto a naked cake. He says, “It may not be possible to have fresh flowers cascade down the face of the cake. As you will see in most example images online, the flowers or fruit tend to be placed only on the top of the uppermost tier, or on the tier ledges, but not trailing down the entire face of the cake.” Logsdon recommends finishing the cake with fresh fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries blackberries) and smaller strawberries. She adds that “sprinkling the fruit and cake with a light dusting of powdered sugar gives it a dreamy look.” Fresh flowers, wildflowers, twigs, and leaves give it a rustic look, and she says that succulents are popular but should be used sparingly.
So, how does one display this gorgeous creation without taking away from its natural beauty? Logsdon recommends that a single tier and two tier cake be placed on a wooden or vintage looking cake stand, but the larger cakes be placed directly on the table with something underneath, like a lace doily. Even a wooden slab would complement the cake’s rustic appearance.
Whether your cake is naked or semi-naked, just make sure it is stable, edible and reflects your wedding personality. When these three things are considered, it is hard to make a mistake when creating your perfect naked cake!!!