Rustic Naked Wedding Cakes What You Need To Know

The start of naked wedding cakes – Milk Bar

The style is homey, fun, rustic, and if done well can be stunning. In some cases, however, this cake design can also look messy, unfinished and cheapskate. It started trending in 2007 and Christina Tosi at Milk Bar are the trendsetters that have been credited for making it popular, with their Funfetti wedding cakes and similar cakes. Today, there are now many versions and concepts of the design ranging from the all-natural, rustic, rough, country/ backyard, homemade look, to the more stylish smoother even classy look. Personally, naked wedding cakes are not my favourite style of cake, although when the semi-naked icing is thicker with only bits of cake peeking through, then I actually think it’s lovely. Let’s start by comparing the different finishes and understand the terms used to describe each one. Be sure to check out similar posts at Brides Corner.

What Are The Differences Between Naked Cakes, Semi-Naked Cakes And Iced Cakes?

When ordering or making this style wedding cake, make sure you get the right finish you like. The original idea for this cake concept was to see what was underneath the icing and to show it off as it were. This next photo is a perfect example to show the effect the icing has on the decorated cakes.

Rustic Naked Wedding Cakes - Naked, Semi Naked and Iced
Here are from left to right – a naked cake, semi-naked cake and an iced cake.
Source: Miss Ladybird Cakes

Icing on a cake does more than just add sweetness to the overall flavour, it also acts as a protection. If you have ever left plain cake out in the open for a while, you will know that it goes dry very quickly.

To ice a cake usually the procedure is that you dirty ice or crumb coat your cake, chill it, and then you add a second thin layer over that to get a nice clean finish. (See the iced cake in the picture.)

The Naked Cake would get no icing or frosting on the sides.

The Semi-Naked Cake would get the first crumb coat.

The Iced Cake would get the crumb coat and then a second coat of icing.

An example of a naked wedding cake
Naked Wedding Cake – filling peaking out

A layer of icing seals in the soft cake layers keeping them moist and fresh.

Cake at Vic Falls

The Rustic Charm Of Naked Wedding Cakes

The trick to making this cake design pop is, beautifully baked and evenly cut sponge layers and no crumbling or damage on any of the tiers. Poorly done, and it can look like it was just slapped to together without much thought or care.

The filling between the layers can make or change the overall look. Compare the two cakes here. The first cake has the icing peaking out, but the second is more precise and decorative.

An example of the icing in between a naked cake done well
Naked Cake where the filling makes it pop. Source: Sarah Bakes Gluten Free

The layers of cake and filling give it a clean different naked look. This would make a beautiful wedding cake with fresh flowers next to those yummy berries!

Ombre Cakes go well with the unfrosted idea. You can see the varying cake layer colours on the outside and so the overall effect is not dependant on cutting the cake.

It is possible to get many variations of the “Naked Cake” or unfrosted cake.

Why Would You Choose A Naked Or Semi Naked Wedding Cake?

  • You don’t like sweet things generally
  • You need the cake, like tomorrow, it’s an easy design to make quickly
  • You live in a hot climate, buttercream would melt, so you have chosen a naked cake with minimal meringue frosting instead.
  • You love the look
  • You want to make the wedding cake yourself and this style seems less complicated and won’t require tools, other than what you already own in your kitchen.

What Steps Are Needed To Create This Wedding Cake Style For The DIY Bride?

Example of a Naked, Semi-Naked and Iced Cake
  • Bake the cake
  • Make the icing
  • Decide on the decorations
  • Have a cake board or stand to build your cake on
  • Slice the cake into layers
  • Assemble this with, cake, icing, cake etc. ending in icing (secure with bubble tea straws through the layers.)
  • Decorate
  • Chill
  • Transport to venue
  • Set it up on the cake table

What Could Spoil The Overall Naked Look?

  • Over baked cake – particularly white or yellow cakes as they get a caramelised crust. (It may or may not bother you). Darker cake crusts aren’t that noticeable.
  • The icing is blended in and doesn’t stand out against the sponge.
  • Detailed additions like drips are added to Naked Cakes, making it messy. Drip edges are better on Semi-Naked cakes.
  • There is a lot going on with the decorations – keep things simple. Have a few focal points and keep the number of kinds of flowers or whatever to a minimum. Less is more.
  • The cake is lopsided, damaged and crumbling. Mistakes happen, try to use the bad patches as the focal area. You can then cover it with your flowers or fruit to hide much of it. If that won’t work, change direction, do a Semi Naked cake as icing will correct the faults and give you your edges back.
Naked Wedding Cakes - What You Need To Know.  Infographic.
Please, can you re-pin this infographic – Thank you.

What Time Frame Does A Naked Cake Need?

The cake gets baked two days or so before the wedding (perhaps earlier and frozen), and then it is put together the day before or on the day of the wedding. Even if it’s kept in a sealed container in the fridge till the reception, there will be a couple of hours out in the open air at the very least before it gets eaten. This means your cake can be a little on the dry side by default.


What You Should Know About Decorating Naked Wedding Cakes

Being bare it exposes the inner parts. Icing or filling between the layers and any bits in the sponge cake will be seen and will give it a very natural look. So remember rustic means simple, plain, country etc. Think natural, as-is and untainted…

  • Fresh flowers marry well with this style
  • as do fresh fruit and herbs or petals
  • leaves still on small branches
  • burlap, string and similar
  • artificial silk flowers would also work in a pinch

Do you like this style? It is an easy design for a bride to make and decorate. Naked wedding cakes are still trending and if you aren’t much into icing, it seems like the perfect balance of icing and cake.


What You Should Know About Semi Naked Wedding Cakes

Rustic Naked Wedding Cakes - Semi Naked two tier drip icing
This Semi-Naked Wedding Cake Looks More Classy – Source: The Bake Pod

Semi-Naked Wedding Cakes is when a cake is iced with some form of frosting or buttercream, and then it gets scraped off so you can see the cake beneath it.

Rustic Naked Wedding Cakes - Semi Naked Wedding Cake
Semi-Naked Wedding Cake. The excess icing from the layers has been spread over the sides of the cake.
Source: Sweet Bonheur

The amount of icing left on the cake varies and creates an entirely different look each time. Semi-Naked Cakes are essentially dirty iced or crumb-coated cakes.

Rustic Naked Wedding Cake - Two Tier Cake
A thicker layer of icing on the sides changes the overall look – Source: Delicious By Sara

A Naked Wedding Cake is likely to dry faster than a Semi Naked Wedding Cake.

Semi-Naked Cakes can be done up in the same way as the Naked Cakes. Additional things like drip icing, cake toppers, meringues etc sit better on these cakes due to the semi-solid bits of icing. The bare look is less pronounced, and decorative highlights are seen better against the more solid background. This means that the overall look, can change from rough rustic to shabby chic and in some cases to a classic look.

Rustic Naked Wedding Cakes - Semi Naked
The exposed cake only shows through at the bottom – Source: Petite Sweets Perth

Ways To Ensure Your Cake Doesn’t Dry Out

Naked Cakes serve with cream or sauce
Serve Naked or Semil Naked Cake with cream or a sauce.
  • Serve the cake with cream, ice-cream or a sauce
  • Add sugar syrup also called simple syrup, or something similar, to each cake layer before you add the middle icing
  • Or ensure your filling or icing between the layers is thicker than usual (this could result in the layers sliding so don’t forget to push a few bubble tea straws through the whole cake to stabilise it. Make sure these can be covered up with flowers or other decorations so the holes are not seen.)
  • Bake and freeze your cakes ahead of time. When the cake defrosts, the ice particles melt and add extra moisture to the cake.
  • Ask your cake decorator what they can suggest to ensure your cake is moist and delicious – rather than dry and unappetising.
  • Buy a cake cover and display the cake in this on the cake table. The effect is beautiful on the cake table and can add a special delicate touch to the cake table setting.


Key Take Away

Naked Wedding Cakes What You Need to Know
  • Naked Cakes have no icing on the sides and can dry out quickly
  • Semi-Naked Cakes show cake through the thin layer of icing and can dry out too
  • Both designs are easy to decorate and make it perfect for the DIY Bride
  • There is a delicate balance between messy and naturally rustic – really think this one through to ensure you get the look you are going after.
  • Get a clear cover so the cake is protected from the elements
  • Add additional sauce or cream as an option for those who like a sweeter more moist cake

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