This easy tutorial on how to frost a naked cake or semi-naked cake for beginners is super simple to follow - making even the most cake decorating challenged person able to master it! This gorgeous rustic and chic style features either no frosting on the sides or minimal frosting with the cake layers and fillings peeking through.
Keto Naked Cake Or Semi-Naked Cake
Technically speaking, a naked cake has no frosting at all on the sides. Typically when people refer to a naked cake though, they're referring to a semi-naked cake that has a minimal amount of frosting on the sides with the cake layers and fillings peeking through.
This is also known as a "half-dressed" or a "crumb-coated" cake.
Naked cakes are simple, beautiful, rustic, and chic all at the same time. There are many different styles and ways to decorate them, so I'll just show you the basics and then you can add your own touch of creativity!
And for the frosting, I recommend this Vanilla Keto Buttercream, Keto Cream Cheese Frosting (will need to be doubled), or Chocolate Buttercream. For this tutorial, I used my Keto Vanilla Cake And Vanilla Keto Buttercream recipes.
Before getting started, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Have the right tools. You will need either a straight spatula or an off-set spatula to apply the frosting and a bench scraper (affiliate links) to smooth out the sides of the naked cake. Many people use a turntable, but this is optional and I don't use one for this tutorial. If you do use a turntable, you can use cake circles (affiliate link) to transfer the cake to the cake stand after it's frosted.
- Properly prepare the pans. If your cakes stick to the pan, it will ruin the cake. You need to line the pans with parchment paper and grease them. To line the pans with parchment paper: 1) Place the pans on a large sheet of parchment paper. 2) Trace the bottom of the pans with a pencil. 3) Cut the parchment paper using the lines you traced. 4) Grease the pan, place the parchment paper in the pan, then grease the parchment paper. This will ensure easy removal and the cakes will slide right out.
- Decide the decor in advance. Before beginning, decide how much frosting you want to use on the sides. Do you want them almost bare or just a little of the cake peeking through? What will you decorate with? There are many options such as fresh flowers, berries, herbs, sprinkles, or small keto treats such as chocolate, cookies, and candies.
- Refrigerate the cakes. Cover the cake layers tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour before frosting. This will ensure they are completely cool so the frosting sticks to the cake.
- Level the cake layers. Before frosting, use a serrated knife to level the tops of cakes to ensure they are completely level. Flat cake layers will add stability to the cake.
- Chill the cake after frosting. Chill the naked cake in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before cutting. This will ensure the frosting adheres to the cake and makes for a neater slice. After it's set, you can place the cake out at room temperature for the party or gathering.
Start by using a serrated knife to level off the top of the cake layers for a flat surface. Then, place the first cake layer on a cake plate or cake stand with 4 pieces of parchment paper underneath.
I add parchment paper because I'm SUPER messy and it makes for easy cleanup. I also recommend using 4 pieces and not 2. When using only 2 pieces, they become hard to remove from the weight of the cake.
I use a cake stand that I turn by hand since I don't have a turntable, but turntables are awesome! So if you have one go ahead and use it! If using a turntable, place a cake circle underneath it so you can easily transfer it to your cake plate after frosting.
I like to pipe frosting around the edge of the cake layer. While it's not required, it helps me make sure the frosting is even all the way around with a nice edge.
How to use a baggie as a pastry bag
If you don’t have a fancy pastry bag, it’s super simple to make one with a Ziplock or plastic baggie! Here are the easy steps:
- Cut a very small piece off of the bottom corner of a large plastic baggie then place the piping tip into the cut corner.
- Place the baggie into a cup with the piping tip down.
- Fold the excess baggie over the outside edge of the cup.
- Add frosting.
- Remove the baggie from the cup and push the frosting towards the tip, removing any air.
- While holding the baggie straight up and down, pipe on the frosting. Easy-peasy!
Then use a straight spatula or an off-set spatula to evenly fill in the frosting.
Add the next cake layer and press it down into the frosting to get out any air bubbles. Frost between each cake layer as we did in the previous step, turning the top layer upside down to ensure a flat top.
Tip for a 3 or 4-layer cake: When stacking the cake layers, very slightly off-set the middle layers (as in a few centimeters!) so parts of the cake stick out farther in some areas.
However, the top and bottom layers should be completely parallel to make straight sides. This will create varying depth in the semi-naked frosting.
Frost the top layer the same way you frosted the previous layers. I didn't use the piping around the edges for the top layer but I wish I had because it makes it so much more even and easier to frost.
For a naked cake
For a naked cake, stop here. A true naked cake has completely bare sides with no frosting. It's simple and beautiful. Decorate the top as desired and remove the parchment paper or transfer to cake stand.
Then, transfer cake to the fridge for at least an hour or two to allow frosting to set. After it's set, you can place the cake out at room temperature for the party or gathering and serve.
For a semi-naked cake
For a semi-naked cake, we'll add minimal frosting to the sides with the cake and fillings peeking through. To do this, use your spatula to add frosting to the sides of the cake, starting at the bottom and working towards the top. No need to be perfect, and you can add as much or as little as you prefer.
Now for the fun part! Use a bench scraper to smooth out the sides and allow the cake to peek through. Don't push too hard or you may puncture the cake.
When I do this, I work in sections, scraping with my right hand and turning the cake stand with my left. This is where a turntable comes in handy, but if you don't have one like me you can still make it work!
As you scrape, wipe the excess frosting off of the bench scraper into a bowl. If there are holes in the frosting, simply add more with the spatula then smooth it out with the bench scraper until you get the look you want.
When the sides are done, you'll need to smooth out the top edge. Using your spatula, smooth the excess frosting inward toward the center of the cake. Try to make a level, sharp edge. Then smooth out the top of the cake so there's not a dome from pushing the excess frosting inward.
Then gently remove the parchment paper from underneath the cake or transfer it to your cake plate. Touch up the bottom of the cake if needed.
Decorate with fresh berries, flowers, herbs, sprinkles, keto chocolate, candies, cookies ...or whatever your heart desires! Then, place in the refrigerator for an hour or two for the frosting to set. After it's set, you can place the cake out at room temperature for the party or gathering.
These cakes are gorgeous with a ganache drip! Simply pour the ganache over the center of the cake and use a spatula to spread the ganache over the top. The ganache will make beautiful drips as you spread the chocolate out over the top.
Here is my Keto Ganache Recipe that can also be made Vegan and dairy-free. I recommend slightly thinning it out with a little extra cream so it's not too thick and makes beautiful drips!
If you’ve tried this method on How To Frost A Naked Cake please let me know in the comments below!
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How To Frost A Naked Cake Or Semi-Naked Cake For Beginners
Keto Cakes To Choose From:
Keto Frostings To Choose From:
- Fresh Berries
- Fresh Flowers
- Small Keto Chocolates, Cookies, or Candies
- Allow the cake layers to come to room temperature. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Use a serrated knife to level off the tops of the cakes to make them level. Then, add a small amount of frosting to the middle of the cake plate, turntable, or cake stand and place the cake on top. While the frosting is optional, it helps prevent the cake from moving around while frosting. If using a turntable, place the cake layer on a cake circle for easy transfer to the cake plate. If decorating directly on a cake plate or stand, slide 4 pieces of parchment paper underneath the edges of the cake for easy cleanup.
- Pipe frosting all the way around the top edge of the cake (optional), then use a straight spatula or an off-set spatula to add frosting (around 1 to 1 1/2 cups) to the top of the cake. Evenly spread the frosting over the top, filling in the circle you just piped.
- Add additional cake layers, frosting between each layer as we did in the previous step. Gently but firmly press each cake layer into the frosting and turn the top layer upside down for a perfectly flat top. Then frost the top of the cake also. Tip for a 3 or 4-layer cake: When stacking the cake layers, very slightly off-set the middle layers (as in a few centimeters!) so parts of the cake stick out farther in some areas. However, the top and bottom layers should be completely parallel to make straight sides. This will create varying depth in the semi-naked frosting.
- For a naked cake: Decorate the top as desired and remove parchment paper or transfer to cake stand. Transfer cake to the fridge for at least an hour or two to allow frosting to set. After it's set, you can place the cake out at room temperature for the party or gathering and serve.
- For a semi-naked cake: Use your spatula to add frosting to the sides of the cake, starting at the bottom and working towards the top. No need to be perfect, and you can add as much or as little as you prefer. Use a bench scraper to smooth out the sides of the cake until they are smooth and you have some areas of cake peeking through. Don't push too hard or you may puncture the cake. If there are areas that need more buttercream, simply add more with the spatula then smooth out the bench scraper until you get the look you are going for. To smooth out the top edges: Using your spatula, smooth the excess frosting on the top edge of the cake inward toward the center. Try to make a level, sharp edge. Then smooth out the top of the cake so there's not a dome from pushing the excess frosting inward. Decorate the top as desired and remove parchment paper or transfer to cake stand. Transfer cake to the fridge for at least an hour or two to allow frosting to set. After it's set, you can place the cake out at room temperature for the party or gathering and serve.
Nutritional information is approximate and may vary.
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