‘The perfect pretty summer cake’
The world is dressed in green, birds are nesting, the sunshine is like powdered gold and the world smells of roses, it’s June, the official month of summer. “So let’s celebrate with the prettiest cake”, I say!
By far, these rustic stripped down semi-naked cakes are visually my favourite. The delicate minimal look is simply perfect at every level. I love all the flower decorations that you see on pinterest or ones that are topped off with berries, olive branches, herbs or some drizzle. They offer texture that frosting can’t replace and the exposed layers and soft garnishes look stunning and chic. Semi-naked cakes are perfect for garden parties, baby showers, tea party’s and of course weddings. I love a cake that is quite tall and narrow in diameter giving it a delicate shape. Today, a naked cake is a staple in trends and it leaves room for playing around with flavours you like, making it adaptable to so many seasons and events.
First-timer & succeeded! Even though I’m not much of a baker, I have been wanting to learn how to make a ‘naked’ cake for some time now. I finally took the challenge up and was pleased with the end result! This means, you can do it too! The cake does require a bit of organizing as it has so many components to it. The great thing is that some of the parts can be made in advance, which saves so much time, mess and hassle on the actual day of the party. The lemon blueberry curd can be made well in advance and it just intensifies in flavour after a few days. Also, the cake layers can be done before as they need to be placed into the freezer prior to the assembling process. Because I only used one cake mold, the baking process took a bit longer as I made 3 layers, which meant I had to bake 3 times. Of course, a more time efficient solution would be to have several cake molds in use.
“It’s all about the flavour”, they say. I wanted a cake to reflect the beautiful colours of the blooming lilac trees, something fresh but luxuriously sweet. The intense deep blueberry curd combines beautifully with the creamy butter frosting creating a vibrant hue around the outer layers. To keep it a soft white outer layer just making sure the blueberry does not spread out from in between. Do this by creating a frosting rim around the cake layer and spoon the blueberry inside, this way it is sealed. The layers are infused with vanilla and the rich buttercream frosting binds all the flavours together. While eating a slice, I scooped more lemon blueberry curd on top as I couldn’t get enough of it! For decorations I wanted a natural feeling to it; blueberries, mint leaves and a few lilac flowers created a beautiful crown to the cake.
Basic facts about naked cakes to make your lives easier: Firstly, you need to freeze the cake layers before you assemble them together as this ensures no crumbs breaking off into the frosting. Generally, a good 6 hours of freezing is good. I did mine the day before and froze them overnight which saves an amazing amount of time on the day of the party. However, make sure the defrost a bit before cutting. To help cut even layers, I measured all four sides with a ruler and placed toothpicks on them to help keep the cutting straight. It helps to have a sharp serrated knife to level off the layers of the cake so they are perfectly even. Lastly, if your naked cake is tall with many layers, it needs a built in support. I’ve made a 3 layer cake and this works perfectly without support.
Ingredients for cake base (x3)
- 3 eggs
- 1dl sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 dl + 1 1/2 tbs flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla powder
* oil for lining the cake tine / milk when assembling the cake
Ingredients for Butter frosting
- 2 cups unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Ingredients for Blueberry Lemon curd ( makes 1 jar)
- 200 g frozen blueberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- about 100g salted butter cubed (room temperature)
- 1 dl sugar
- 3-4 egg yolks
Cake Base Directions (cake tin 16cm Ø )
Baking the cake layers:
In a bowl, add together the dry ingredients (minus sugar). In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy with the help of an electric whisk. Through a sieve, combine the dry ingredients to the egg/sugar mixture. Gently fold the batter together.
Pour some oil into the cake tin so the bottom and sides are coated, pour excess out. Pour batter into the cake tin and place into the bottom part of the oven for 40 minutes at 175 °C. Check the cake by inserting a tooth pick into the centre and if it comes out clear, it is fully cooked. Cool in cake tins on a heat rack (about 10 minutes); remove cakes from tins and cool completely on wire racks for about an hour.
Repeat this process 2 more times to form three cake layers.
Freeze Cake layers:
Freeze cakes once cooled, as this process makes the assembling much easier. Wrap each cake layer individually in plastic wrap and freeze for 4-6 hours. This part is optional but it ensures that crumbs don’t break into the icing, so if you are short in time, freeze at least for an hour. If you freeze them overnight, give them a bit of time to defrost as they are hard to cut otherwise.
When you are ready to frost the cake, remove layers from freezer and unwrap. Level the layers with a serrated knife to make sure the surfaces are straight. I removed the top half of the cake layers as they were dome-shaped.
Now the next part you can do 2 ways: Either slice your layers in half so you get 6 layers in total. Or then just keep the 3 layers as they are. Of course the more filling you have, the more moist it will be. However, I wanted to keep just 3 layers and keep the cutting minimal.
Frosting and Blueberry curd:
Blueberry Lemon Curd Directions
In a saucepan, add the frozen blueberries and lemon juice. Bring to a gentle simmer so that the blueberries become very soft. Mash lightly and press through a sieve into another saucepan. Place back onto low heat; add lemon zest, cubes of butter and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter has melted and add the beaten egg yolks. (First I added 3 but ended up adding one more as the sauce was not thick enough) Stir continuously until the liquid begins to thicken (may need to raise heat but make sure eggs don’t scramble) If you are having problems with it thickening, you can always add a little bit more butter. But be gentle, it can take 10-15 minutes. Once thick, remove to another bowl to cool. Once cooled, place into refrigerator to intense in flavour and to set even more. Store in a jar, up to a week.
Butter Frosting Directions
With a handheld mixer, whisk the butter on high-speed until a pale colour and fluffy. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula twice while beating.
Turn mixer into low-speed and gradually add the sieved sugar. When combined scrape the bowl again. Slowly drizzle in the milk and vanilla. Scrape bowl again when combined.
Whisk on high-speed for about 10 minutes until the buttercream is extremely fluffy.
READY TO ASSEMBLE
Assemble the cake
Use your “ugliest cake bottom” for the base of the naked-cake. Save the prettiest bottom for the top part. Place a bit of frosting on your cake plate and place the first layer on top. This keeps it from moving. Moisten each layer with a bit of milk.
Fill each layer with buttercream frosting and blueberry curd. I made a rim around the edges with buttercream and placed the blueberry curd in the centre to keep it sealed. Repeat this process until the top and place the last layer “with the bottom half of the layer facing the surface” so it looks flat this way. Add buttercream frosting around the edges of the cake and scrape to almost bare with a sharp knife. Place into fridge (or freezer) to set the frosting before decorating.
When working with fresh flowers
Add the garnish closer to the party, especially if you are working with flowers that don’t hold their shape for long, like lilac. For this cake, add blueberries on top, the ends of mint leaves and the little flowers of lilac. If you plan to decorate with lots of fresh flowers like roses for example, it would be best if they do not come into contact with the cake. YouTube is very helpful for this, but basically just add toothpicks to your rosebud ends and wrap the stem with a bit of gardening tape. Press this into the cake. For delicate flowers like baby’s breath, they can just be loosely set in between other garnishes. Roses, some carnations, olive branches and baby’s breath hold their form very well! Figs and herbs are an elegant choice as well.
After we indulged, I allowed the remaining cake to rest overnight in the fridge and it held its shape perfectly and actually tastes even more moist this morning. So I would not see it as a problem, to make the cake in advance (minus decorating) if you are short on time!