How to Ditch the Fondant and Make Your Own Naked Wedding Cake
Thinking about DIY-ing a wedding cake but intimidated by finicky fondant or perfectly smooth buttercream? Why not try an icing-less naked cake?! Instead of attempting to meticulously ice a cake, leaving the sides exposed is not only trendy, but also a beautifully rustic and easy option for weddings, birthdays and nearly all celebrations. This minimalist look can be dressed up or dressed down with a variety of decorations, cake toppers or even just fresh flowers and fruit (as we have done here). But before you dive in, take a look at our tips and tricks for filling and stacking the perfect naked cake.
Tips for Making a Naked Cake:
1. Take care to prepare your cake pans properly. Since the sides of the cakes will be exposed, now is not the time to have them getting stuck in the cake pans. Generously grease and flour the pan before adding in the batter, line with parchment or use whatever method the recipe calls for.
2. Trim the tops of the cake layers. Again, since the layers will be exposed, you will want them to be as even as possible. Not only does trimming the tops of cakes promote stability, it makes for clean, even layers. Simply use a serrated knife to cut off any “domes” on the top of the cakes that may have formed during baking.
3. Apply filling with a piping bag. For even layers of filling, pipe a ring of frosting around the top edge of each layer of cake, then fill in the center. Using a plain, round tip will create clean layers of filling. If you’d like more of a rustic or homemade feel, use an offset spatula once the frosting is already applied to make it look “perfectly imperfect.”
4. Choose stable cakes and fillings. Since a wedding cake typically sits out for long periods of time before being served, choose cake and fillings that do not need to be refrigerated (i.e. no whipped cream) and that are structurally sound. Frosting the outside of a cake helps hold the layers together and can help keep softer, more delicate cakes (like chiffon or even moist carrot cake) stay intact. Since a naked cake does not have the extra frosting to keep it all from toppling over, choose sturdier cakes like butter, mud or pound cakes (especially for beginner cake makers). Also, buttercream, ganache and fudge fillings tend to be more stable and won’t squish out between the layers of cake like lemon curd, fruit preserves and mousse fillings can do on occasion.
5. Create a timeline. The frosting on the outside of fully-iced cakes helps keep them from drying out too quickly. The exposed layers of a naked cake are more susceptible to drying out, since they don’t have this “protection.” When planning on making a naked cake for a big or important event, you can prepare the cakes and fillings in advance and store them separately, but don’t assemble until the day it will be served. Most cakes will stay fresh wrapped in a double-layer of plastic wrap in the refrigerator for about five days. If the cake needs to be assembled in advance, be sure to loosely cover the sides of the cake in plastic wrap and try to store in a cake box or cake keeper. For extra assurance, you may brush each layer of cake with simple syrup to keep it nice and moist.
6. Get creative. Choose decorations to match the theme of the wedding or occasion. Try handmade or purchased cake toppers, whimsical cake bunting, fresh flowers or even just sprinkles! You may want to use edible garnishes that reflect the flavor of the cake like coconut flakes, chocolate curls, fresh berries, candied citrus and chopped nuts. Fresh herbs give off a more rustic vibe while seasonal florals add instant romance. Be sure to choose nontoxic flowers, and don’t insert the stems directly into the cake (either lay them on top or wrap the stems in floral tape).
- baked and cooled layers of cake
- large batch of frosting of choice
- cake toppers such as fresh flowers, fruit and sugar pearls
- piping bag
- plain, round piping tip (about 1/2 inch in diameter)
- offset spatula
- long serrate knife
1. Once your cakes are baked and completely cooled, use a long serrated knife to trim them. Simply remove any domes that may have former during baking and level the cakes so that they are all the same height.
2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain, round tip with your frosting of choice. Pipe a ring of frosting around the top edge of the cake, and fill in the center.
3. Stack the next layer of cake on top and repeat.
4. Stack the last layer upside-down so that the top stays flat and crumb-free.
5. Use an offset spatula to frost the top of the cake.
6. Get decorating! Try arranging the fresh flowers, fruit and sugar pearls in a crescent shape (as we have done here), letting the smaller blossoms and berries tapper off at the ends. You can also try creating a dramatic arrangement in the center of the cake or around the edges to make a floral crown!
- Once your cakes are baked and completely cooled, use a long serrated knife to trim them. Simply remove any domes that may have formed during baking, and level the cakes so that they are all the same height. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain, round tip with your frosting of choice. Pipe a ring of frosting around the top edge of the cake, and fill in the center. Stack the next layer of cake on top, and repeat.
- Stack the last layer upside-down so that the top stays flat and crumb-free. Use an offset spatula to frost the top of the cake.
- Let’s decorate! Start with the larger blooms, then add in the smaller elements as you go. Little sugar pearls and tiny white blossoms are great for filling in small spaces and adding texture.
- The hardest part might be knowing when to stop decorating! So, who’s ready to make their own naked cake? What types of decorations will you choose?
Be sure to tag your creations on Instagram using the hashtag #iamcreative.
Artist Dev Heyrana On How Bravery, Resilience and Sunshine Influence Her Work
Ever meet someone who you feel immediate kinship with on a deep almost spiritual level? That is legit every person's experience upon meeting Dev Heyrana, the star of this edition of Creative Crushin'. A fine artist, hip hop dance teacher and constant collaborator, Dev's particular brand of creativity is one-of-a-kind. She manages to be warm, welcoming and woke, with a focus on inclusivity, social justice and motherhood that comes through in every piece of art she creates.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and one of many humans who has benefitted from Dev's boundless generosity and kindness. We first connected at a launch event, then I asked her if she and her family would like to model for a B+C shoot (they did!), then months later, I asked the IG universe if anyone would be down to co-parent with me for a day so I could speak at a conference. Dev said yes! And for those that know her, none of these serendipitous moments are surprising.
Now it's time to delve more into Dev's story, her creative inspiration, her thoughtful approach to parenting and what makes her more passionate than ever about bringing her point of view and artistic voice into the universe.
Anjelika Temple: First, foundations. Where did you grow up? What is your heritage? What did you study in school? Where do you live now?
Dev Heyrana: Born in The Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 9 years old. Me and my family are from the island of Cebu and I'm a proud Cebuana. My childhood in the Philippines felt like freedom. I had my swimsuit in my backpack for whenever we decided to swim and I biked everywhere.
Immigrating here at 9 yrs old was a transition, to say the least. My parents had big dreams but the move was heavy on them. It wasn't easy. I had to grow up fast. I took care of my sisters while my parents worked night shifts. By the age of 12 I would cook dinner and get my sisters ready for bed. Something I didn't realize was that kids my age didn't do those things until I got older. We would play these make-believe games to make, in hindsight, our hard situation brighter.
I think this is really when art played a big role in my life. It was something I could escape in and always felt healing.
I witnessed racism towards my family and didn't know how to make sense of it. These events left a mark. I was a quiet kid and observed everything and everyone around me. I think about my grandparents, Lolo Jose and Lola Rita, a lot as I walk through life. When I make decisions. As hard as it feels, you have two choices, do you let it take you down or take it one step at a time forward. I kept going and it really shaped me as to why I am the way I am today.
I studied Fine Arts at The Corcoran in DC. I owe that decision to my art teacher, Mr Giles, in High School. He was retiring and wore a Hawaiian shirt every day during my senior year. He was a curmudgeon and I felt incredibly special since out of everyone in the school he really believed in me. As grumpy as he seemed to the class, he would tell me things like "Go into the other studio and break some glass, then put it on a canvas." He's the reason why my abstract pieces have elements like clay and sand in them.
I've had incredible mentors and all were teachers. Mr. Giles in High School and Christine George in College. Christine was the one who told me to go either to New York or San Francisco because "D.C. is no place for an artist like you." She told me to not listen to anyone, how I can still paint, be a graphic designer, and, if I choose to, have a family. I've never had anyone tell me anything like that before.
I took a chance because of her. Moved and went to Design School in 2006 and I've stayed in the Bay Area ever since, raising two girls with the love of my life.
Anj: You are one of those magical human beings that has figured out how to be a full-time artist. What was your career path like before you were able to dive fully into your creative passions?
Dev: The most radical thing I could have done in my family, I did, I went to college for Fine Arts. A mix of being so young and having to do it on my own, I went with the school that gave me more scholarships. Even then I worked three jobs to be able to get through it. Hard work is ingrained in me.
With my sculpture background, I fell in love with Print and Packaging and why I came out here to San Francisco. I appreciated the security of having a career in Graphic Design. I also learned how to work with clients and the business side of things. Even then, I never stopped painting.
A few years ago I went through a pretty hard time with my health. I dealt with six surgeries in one year and I still have to do some follow-up ones. That experience almost broke me and what got me through was my family and painting in bed while I recovered.
When I finally got back on my feet, my heart just wasn't in Graphic Design anymore. So I made a two year plan. With a toddler and a mortgage, I wanted to make sure my steps were thought out. I put myself out there as an Artist while I still worked in Design. After a year I worked part time as a Graphic Designer and stepped down from my Creative Director position. I loved it, to be creative as an Artist and as a Designer. I looked at 2018 as my year to make the jump. If my work as an Artist balances out with my salary then I would quit in the Summer of 2019. And so here we are. I also am sharing a studio with my good friend, Naomi PQ, and I feel like my creative drive is just beginning.
Anj: What do you love about painting? How do you feel when you're in a creative flow state?
Dev: Like every part of me is free. Free to express myself through the stroke of my hand. How all of it leads back to my heart. These elements I use to paint have a mind of their own and how I need to respect the process.
It centers me and reminds me that the process is just like the life we lead. I know I still have so much more to learn but while I'm painting no matter how it's going, I'll embrace this moment.
Anj: You reference your roots quite a bit in your work. Talk to me more about how your roots inspire your work.
Dev: One of my earliest memories is of my Lolo Jose teaching me how to water mango saplings. He converted to Buddhism when my mother was young, so he viewed the world with love and kindness. I didn't realize it then but watering those mango trees were life lessons. We need to take the time to nurture, practice patience, and respect all living things. I still imagine him walking beside me often, carrying his teachings as I find my way in this world.
Nature and the Sun drive my pieces. My abstract works are fragments of moments. Like the sunset I grew up with when I was seven years old in the Philippines, like how I saw the water in Cebu when I dove in as a young adult, and like when I saw the redwoods with my children for the first time.
I see earth in our skin and especially when I paint people. How our mango trees grew and blossomed because the dark earth was rich with nutrients. I imagine the Sun piercing through these women I depict. I paint their love and bravery because their resilience cannot be contained. I want to celebrate all of it.
This is the beauty of Art, I am able to paint exactly how I see it.
Anj: Motherhood and your daughters are also central themes in your work. How has motherhood changed your approach to creating artwork?
Dev: Everything. I was still deep in my Design Career and I would paint at home. One day Quinn, who was 3 years old at the time introduced me at the park to a mom. "This is my mom, she's an Artist." It struck me that my toddler knew who I was more than I knew myself. That's really when I really owned it. I am more fearless because of my girls.
I own my body, I thank people when they compliment me, and I am selective but fearless when I use my voice. I am more in tune how I speak about myself because of them. When I paint these women I want to celebrate them. I notice how I embrace myself is translated in my paintings.
Anj: What advice can you give to parents who are trying to tap into their kiddos' innate creativity?
Dev: I don't have a lot of guidelines set up. I'll say "Let's draw the biggest fish we can draw" or "how many silly lines can we make" and I let them lead me. They ask me questions, show me things, and I sit there with my coffee watching their eyes wide with excitement. Watching them in their creative process is pure joy for me. Those silly lines can turn into a dragon or waves and next thing we know, we're drawing a big beach scene. My advice would be that you can suggest something to start it off but be open to how they take it. It is such a beautiful window into their minds.
Anj: Shifting gears to HIP HOP DANCE! Talk to us about his component of your creative expression.
Dev: I loved the Hip Hop scene in DC and discovered how much fun the clubs were in college. My friends told me about this Hip Hop Crew I should try out for, I was so scared because I've never taken a dance class in my life. I got in and it was like having another family. We competed all over the East Coast, it was a blast!
I found hipline when I started my first Design Job and needed an outlet. It was exactly what I needed and one of the owners asked if I was interested to teach. I've been teaching there since 2009 and am still going strong. It's a wonderful community of women. Now we're virtual and reaching clients all over.
Anj: What does a typical [pandemic] day look like for you? How does it differ from your rhythm before COVID?
Dev: I've been practicing being kinder to myself lately. Both me and my husband work full time and so having the girls at home is a challenge. Some days we are amazed by how smooth it went and then there are others where if the girls are clean and bellies are full, it's a total win.
Now that we're on month 8 our rhythm before covid felt more chaotic to be honest. I felt like we were always rushing out the door while carrying so many bags. Now my husband and I try to have coffee together, if he has a break from his meeting, and we sit with Quinn before school to see what she has to do for the day. Rowan's preschool closed down but we were able to find a wonderful speech therapist for her and she has an Adventure Pod we go to two times a week.
The one thing we really try to do is go outside once a day. Have some magic in their childhood no matter how small. It could be just going up for a hike by our home and picking up leaves, riding our bikes, or watching the sunset from our window. Seeing how the girls' react to these adventures we have is pure magic.
Anj: When you get creatively blocked or burnt out, how do you reset? Do you have tips you can share?
Dev: I go outside. I go out for a hike or go to the beach. Even if it's 15 minutes, something about grounding yourself in Nature is really healing. I also do exercise where I doodle for two minutes because it feels doable. Judgment-free doodles, always opens the doorway to more.
Anj: I know firsthand that community-building is huge for you. Tell us more about what your support system and creative community looks like.
Dev: I feel a lot of love and strength when I think of my community. My relationship with my sister led the way what women supporting women looks like. It's listening, asking questions, remembering, cheering for all the wins, being there even if it's hard, and taking time to invest in them. The way me and my sister show up for each other is why I have these amazing women in my life. I can talk to them about my family, motherhood, and we're all trying to balance it all while sharing my most recent project. I feel really blessed especially looking back in my college years where I don't know where Art would take me.
Anj: When you need to give yourself a pep talk, what does it sound like?
Dev: I usually take a deep breath then say or think "One step forward". Most of the time, I'm scared (as shit) but the thought of not trying scares me more. That one step forward can be hard as hell and maybe even heartbreaking, but I have to try.