8 Dazzling Ways to Build a Naked Cake

It turns out that less is (way) more when it comes to cake decorating. With these beautiful ideas, you won't miss the extra frosting at all.
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Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Photo By: Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com ©Heather Baird SprinkleBakes.com

Skimp on the Icing

The naked cake is the perfect example of how restraint can be a good thing — even when sweets are involved. By leaving the sides bare, you appreciate the cake layers' texture (and the ingredients between the layers) in a whole new way. Plus, the frosting and decorations on top can truly shine. Try one of these eight ideas for your next celebration — or mix and match your favorite components to create a confection you'll love.

Dulce de Leche Brownie Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

This truly indulgent confection plays with all your party guests' favorite vices. Start by doubling your favorite brownie recipe and baking it in three 6-inch round cake pans. Spread an irresistibly thick layer of peanut butter frosting between the cakes, and top it all off with dulce de leche, artfully dripping down the sides. Finish with peanuts and mini chocolate chips for extra crunch.

Try the Technique: The Perfect Drip

Dulce de leche is often found next to the sweetened condensed milk or in the Hispanic-foods aisle at the grocery store. Heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds to make it a little easier to spread. Use a spoon to push it over the edges of the cake for a drippy effect.

Bright Macaron Cake

Double the dessert is double the fun — especially when cake and cookies make their entrance in such bright hues. Buy ready-made macarons in any three colors you love. Divide white cake batter into three portions and use food coloring to tint the portions to match the macarons. Bake as directed, and trim the cake edges with a serrated knife or pastry ring so the brilliant colors are even more visible. Brush the cake layers with jam and stack them. Frost the top of the cake with buttercream and finish with a circle of macarons standing on their sides.

Try the Technique: A Pretty Palette

For the most-cohesive look, choose macarons in colors that will pair closely with the food coloring at your disposal. A complementary palette, like these vibrant pastel hues, ensures that your cake will look deliberate and pretty — not totally crazy.

Double Bundt Cake with Sugared Berries

A smart stack of Bundt cakes looks impressive but still delicate. Bake two cakes: one in a 12-cup Bundt pan and the second in a 10-cup Bundt pan (here, we used pound cake batter). After the cakes cool, brush them with apricot jam and stack the smaller cake on top of the larger one. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar and sugared berries.

Try the Technique: Sugared Berries

Reconstitute some meringue powder with water (the right ratio should appear on the package directions). Dip berries in the mixture and then roll them in granulated sugar. Leave to dry at room temperature for 1 hour. The sugar and meringue will harden into a crust that discourages the berries from macerating.

Mini Lemon Thyme Cakes

It's a sheer delight to see a personal-sized cake appear on your plate. Bake a lemon sheet cake in a 13-by-9-inch pan. Cut out mini cakes using a round pastry ring. Heat a simple syrup (one part water mixed with one part sugar) with lemon extract and thyme leaves. Brush each mini cake with the syrup, and then cut the cakes in half crosswise, creating two layers. Frost with lemon buttercream, and garnish with lemon zest and fresh thyme sprigs.

Try the Technique: Cake Cutouts

Pastry rings, biscuit cutters or cookie cutters can be used to create a bunch of smaller cakes out of one sheet cake. Three-inch-wide portions will provide a generous single serving for each guest.

Raspberry Rose Cake

Brush vanilla chiffon cake layers with rosewater-infused simple syrup. Layer the cake with cream cheese frosting, including a healthy serving on top. Scatter fresh raspberries and insert pink rose stems for a beautiful buffet centerpiece that's perfect for a bridal shower or garden party.

Try the Technique: Floral Decor

When decorating a dessert with flowers, it's important to pick blooms that have not been treated with pesticides. Ask your local florist to point you in the right direction — an edible variety (like these roses) can often be a good choice. Cover the stems in plastic wrap before you insert them into the cake, for additional protection.

Confetti Birthday Cake

Covering up a confetti cake with frosting sort of defeats the point, doesn't it? Let's see those colors! Add rainbow sprinkles to yellow cake batter and bake in three 8-inch pans. Use a knife or pastry ring to trim away the edges of the cake layers to best reveal the confetti interior. Add sprinkles to vanilla buttercream and layer it between the cakes. Frost the top of the cake, and add more confetti and a bevy of candles.

Try the Technique: Vibrant Patterns

Birthday candles make exciting and inexpensive cake toppers. Chose a variety of shapes, colors and patterns for a truly festive display.

Red Velvet Cake

Double a red velvet cake recipe and bake the layers in four 6-inch round pans. Slice the rounded top off each layer to level it, but save the scraps. Frost the layers with a dark chocolate frosting. Crumble the cake scraps with your fingers to create crumbs, and use them to decorate the top of the cake. Finish the look with an extra indulgence — store-bought chocolate curls.

Try the Technique: Amped-Up Frosting

Simple cocoa buttercream or ready-made fudge frosting gets elevated to even tastier heights with 6 ounces of melted dark chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly before stirring it into the buttercream.

Tropical Fruit Cake

Exotic, eye-popping fruit makes this cake extra special, but we also added a little coconut extract to the chocolate frosting for even more fun. Layer the frosting between three 9-inch chocolate cake rounds. Frost the top of the cake and sprinkle with shredded coconut. Garnish with tropical fruits like papaya, sliced kiwi, mango and lime slices.

Try the Technique: Cool Fruit

Choose bright, blemish-free fruit for the most-impressive presentation. Tropical greenery like palm fronds and bromeliad make for a fun, thematic accent, too.