The old saying, "It's what's on the inside that counts," certainly applies to the naked wedding cake trend. No, you don't have to blush at the sound of this dessert—this is one aspect of your wedding day where it's totally acceptable to be in the buff. Instead of frosting the outside of the cake with layer upon layer of fondant or buttercream, many bakers are increasing the filling between layers and leaving cakes completely or semi-exposed for a fresh (and delicious) look.
What Is a Naked Cake?
The naked cake is a cake style that omits the majority of frosting you would typically see on the exterior of a cake. Cake layers are baked and stacked with plenty of filling to add flavor and moisture to the cake and served without an outer layer of frosting.
Naked cakes rose to popularity in 2013 as more bakers began to offer these creative confections. But this style has been refined and completely elevated over time to present a look that is definitely deserving of a place on your wedding dessert table.
"Most of our clients choose a naked or semi-naked design simply because they love the look and it fits the rustic or sometimes industrial theme of their venue and wedding reception," says Ashley Lattier of Ashley Cakes. A semi-naked cake follows the same style, with a bit more frosting on the cake. For this style, the baker typically adds a very thin layer of frosting to the cake, scraping the edges to let the cake layers show through.
Meet the Expert
Ashley Lattier is the owner of Ashley Cakes, a boutique wedding cake studio based in North Carolina.
With just as many ways to customize naked wedding cakes as their fully frosted counterparts, you'll be able to work with your baker to achieve a look that reflects your wedding style, whether you're planning a rustic barn wedding, a garden-inspired dinner, or a modern soirée.
But matching your wedding style isn't the only benefit to this cake design. According to Lattier, it may also be the perfect option for those who aren't huge fans of sweets or the couple looking to cut down on overall cake costs. "We have had clients go with this style because they may not have a big sweet tooth, and obviously with this style of cake, there is less icing," says Lattier. "Pricing is another benefit to this style in a lot of cases. Without having to ice the cake to a smooth finish, your baker will have less time involved in the decoration, which may save some cost."
One con to keep in mind when it comes to naked wedding cakes is the potential for the cake layers to dry out before serving. While it doesn't happen often, it's best to double-check with your baker if they can bake and assemble your cake the day of your wedding to prevent any potential for drying.
Ready for some major naked cake inspiration? Here are 36 of our favorites.
Bright Fall Inspired Semi-Naked Cake
According to Lattier, one of the best ways to design a naked cake for a wedding is to view the cake as a blank canvas. "There are so many ways to tailor the finished cake to each individual clients’ wedding style," she says. "One way we like to do this is by playing with the color palette or arrangement of the florals. I love adding fresh flowers to a cake, and it’s a great way to incorporate the cake into your reception design." With semi-naked layers, flecks of gold, a colored drip, and beautiful florals, this is such a gorgeous cake for an early fall wedding.
Rustic Semi-Naked Cake With Florals
This classic-yet-rustic cake comes lightly frosted with white buttercream and garnished with fresh flowers and succulents. Place it on a wooden server, as it's shown here, for a picture-perfect boho vibe.
Indulgent Berry Naked Cake
This cake style is perfect for the couple wanting to stray from tradition. The rustic hazelnut cake is filled with mascarpone cream and blackberries throughout the layers, with additional berries and greenery to top it off. We love the idea of serving this confection at a backyard wedding, or pairing it with other sweets to create a dessert table display.
Fruity Semi-Naked Cake
What a way to make a statement with fresh fruit! "A fun idea that we have done is to substitute fresh fruit instead of flowers for a summer wedding," says Lattier. "Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries add so much color, and make the cake look extra fresh and delicious!"
All-Chocolate Naked Cake
A naked chocolate cake fit with berries and figs is perfect for a whimsical, woodland wedding. We love the simplicity of this chocolate confection, complete with the sweetest cake topper.
Sweet Pink Ombré Semi-Naked Cake
This pink ombré confection is a subtle way to use the trend, and it has a more classic feel thanks to the pink tulips that are bunched on top. This would be the perfect addition to a late-spring wedding, or a garden-inspired soirée. You could even mix up the ombré color to match any palette.
Chocolate Semi-Naked Cake With Caramel Drizzle
Adding a drizzle of caramel or chocolate is such a great way to make a semi-naked cake that much more irresistible. According to Lattier, this is a great style to put on display in an industrial venue with exposed brick, concrete, or wood beams. "I find the unfinished and exposed texture of the semi-naked style to fit them perfectly," she says.
While naked cakes omit frosting, don't be afraid to bring other components into the mix to add flavor and moisture. Check with your baker on the potential for adding a drizzle of chocolate, a raspberry sauce, or a flavored caramel such as bourbon or vanilla.
Elegant Semi-Naked Cake With Purple Florals
While naked cakes are typically found in more rustic settings, it's absolutely possible to bring the look into a more elegant wedding. This cake features just a hint of the naked look to give texture and contrast to the cake, paired with stunning purple blooms.
Tall Tiered Semi-Naked Cake
Who says all of the tiers of your naked cake need to be the same? "Changing the height or shapes of the individual tiers is another great way to change up the look," says Lattier. This stunner utilizes a super tall bottom tier with a two-layer top tier to create contrast, paired with beautiful florals and greenery to pull together the look.
Desert Inspired Semi-Naked Cake
If you're getting married in the desert, ditch the flowers and go naked. Go almost completely bare on the sides and then top your cake with a cactus for a chic ode to your location.
Bright White Floral Semi-Naked Cake
We love the bright white color palette of this cake and the simplicity of the design paired with greenery. Can you picture this confection at a garden-inspired wedding? "Adding beautiful floral and greenery cascades just give the cake a natural, organic style that fits the outside garden setting so well," says Lattier.
Fig and Chocolate Drizzle Naked Cake
Naked cakes can offer the ability to cut back on the sweetness of a cake, but they also have the potential to do just the opposite, depending on your décor. This decadent confection layers chocolate cake and frosting with chocolate ganache, figs, and berries for a divine look, perfect for a winter wedding.
Tall Statement Semi-Naked Cake With Florals
While naked cakes tend to be more rustic, there are ways to make them fit into a more modern theme. "Tall, skinny tiers have a more modern look and fit really well into that style of venue," says Lattier. We love the way this semi-naked cake makes a beautiful statement.
Figs and Greenery Semi-Naked Cake
There are so many ways to add elements of elegance to a naked cake display, and completely frosting one of the tiers is absolutely one way to pull it off. This stunning cake screams European elegance with a tall bottom tier and a small semi-naked tier on top, paired with greenery and figs to complete the design.
Semi-Naked Cake With White Chocolate Drizzle
Don't be afraid to switch up the design for each tier of your naked cake. Opt to include one semi-naked tier, along with one fully frosted, for a contrasted look. And with a drizzle on top, complete with berries and greenery, this completed look is absolutely gorgeous.