What you should know about naked wedding cakes

September 2017

Naked wedding cakes came into fashion about 5 years ago and couples love them for their wedding. But there are a few things to think about before you undress your cake.

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Today I interviewed Leigh Smith who is a cake designer in Glenfarg, Perthshire. Her cakes look stunning, and taste very yummie. But I had a question for her which I have been itching to ask for a while. Over the past few years, I have seen a few naked or - what I learnt today: semi-naked - wedding cakes at weddings I photographed. They look really cool, and I can totally understand the charm these cakes represent. However, there are a few things to bear in mind.

At the end of this article you will know what a naked or semi-naked wedding cake is and how to look after the cake on the wedding day so that you and most importantly your guests will enjoy it when it is finally getting cut and served to your guests in the evening.

What is a naked wedding cake?

Naked wedding cakes are sponge cakes that are usually stacked in at least three tiers and the decoration is a thick coating of butter cream between the layers. You can see the cream filling between each layer. Sometimes there is a thick scraping of butter cream on the outside cake.

The main feature of a naked cake is that you can see the outside of the cake through the cream which is usally vanilla butter cream. The cakes are often decorated with fresh flowers, fresh fruit or a combination of both.

naked wedding cakes
Naked wedding cake

They are very fashionable at the moment, and have been trendy for about five years.

Another option similar to naked cakes are semi-naked cakes. Semi-naked wedding cakes have a bit more buttercream on the outside, but you still see the bare sponge in places. Leigh thinks that "the only reason why semi-naked cakes appeared is because people realised that toally naked cakes run the risk of drying out within a few hours, and a thin layer of butter cream will postpone the drying out a bit longer".

Semi-naked wedding cake, naked wedding cakes
Semi-naked wedding cake

Cake makers are divided as to whether they like them or not. Some cake designers refuse to take orders for them, and here are the main reasons for that:

  • there is too much risk of the cake drying out, and if wedding guests are served a dry piece of cake it reflects badly on the reputation of the cake maker. The last thing a cake designer wants to hear is negative comments about the cake they spent hours designing and putting together.
  • The cake has to be assembled at the venue. The cake designer won't have their usual utensils at hand, there might not be a lot of space or light, other staff might need to squeeze by or watch while the cake is being put together. This will be a more stressful situation for the cake designer.

Most weddings I photograph, I am normally at the venue well before the wedding ceremony. The cake is usually delivered between one to two hours before the ceremony and is out for display until the cake is being cut in the evening. In Scotland, traditionally the cake is being cut before the first dance which is often around 8 pm. So if the cake is delivered at 12 pm, it will have been on display for 8 hours, hence the cake maker would be worried that the cake is still at its best when its served to the guests in the evening.

A traditional wedding cake will not dry out during that time because it’s protected with the icing. Most cake makers use fondant icing or buttercream coating for wedding cakes. The royal icing is not used by many cake makers anymore because it’s too hard to cut and not pleasant eat.

Traditional wedding cake, naked wedding cakes
Traditional wedding cake

Another thing to bear in mind is if the cake is dressed with fresh flowers, the cake maker should also research which flowers are toxic and could potentially cause irritations.

For any wedding cake display, you should make sure that the room is not too warm and that the cake is not exposed to direct sunlight, or light sources that emit heat directly onto the cake.

Here's what to do to keep your naked cake in good condition

I can see the attraction naked cakes have and I must admit I love the look of them.  If you have organised a naked cake, make sure to discuss with your wedding venue that the cake should be refrigerated until after the ceremony in order to shorten the time the cake is exposed before it's being cut.

Keeping your naked cake in good condition, naked wedding cakes
Keeping your naked cake in good condition

Alternatives to traditional wedding cakes and naked cakes

Wedding cakes evolve all the time and brides and grooms and cake designers keep coming up with new ideas regularly. Here are a few things I have come across:

  • A cup cake tower.
  • Mini cakes - every guests receives a miniature cubed or rounded cake that is covered in fondant icing. Every guests get their own cake.
  • Cake pops - I love them - bitesize, cake lollipops.
  • A French macaron tower.
  • A lace wedding cake (the lace is edible, but not very tasty I am told).
  • A cheese wedding cake.

Why not check out my little article about the top 7 wedding cake flavours.

Little wedding cake, naked wedding cakes
Little wedding cake

Every guest at that wedding had their own little wedding cake. They looked totally cute and each cake was displayed at each guest's place on a tiny cake stand.

Cup cake tower, naked wedding cakes
Cup Cake Tower
A cake tower with a large square topper for cutting, naked wedding cakes
A cake tower with a large square topper for cutting.
A french macaron tower and a cheese wedding cake, naked wedding cakes
A french macaron tower and a cheese wedding cake.
Lace wedding cake, naked wedding cakes
Lace wedding cake

Find out more about:

Who is Nadin Dunnigan - Wedding Photographer in Edinburgh

Hey, I am Nadin! (same as "Nadine" - just without the "e"). I am a wedding photographer in Edinburgh, Scotland, specialising in big family weddings in Edinburgh, Scotland, and internationally. I have photographed so many weddings, and it is my mission to help couples with planning their dream wedding. Any questions I come across repeatedly - either in person or online, I will pop in here and provide more insight.

I hope you will find them useful :)

Nadin Dunnigan Photographer