The Naked Cake: Vanilla Layer Cake with Clementines and Lavender Flowers

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It’s the cake scandalising party-goers everywhere. Baring it all in the flesh, naked cakes are the real deal. Just a rustic sponge sandwiched with a buttercream frosting. Owner of Momofuku Milk Bar New York, Christina Tosi, is credited with the creation and popularisation of the Naked Cake. She once told abc NEWS, it was a desire to cast recipes and flavours as the “visual stars” of her creations that pushed her to re-invent more traditional models.  I would like to share with you my take on a naked cake. I love that they are budget friendly: no more fiddly fondant or daunting decorating. You can decorate them with just about anything. Mandarins and clementines have just come into season and they pair perfectly with French lavender. By all means feel free to mix and match your favourite combinations. Due to the lack of covering, this cakes won’t last as long as the others so it is best eaten within 24 hours. Not that it will last that long of course. Happy Cooking!

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  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g castor sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 150g plain flour
  • 150ml milk


  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp milk

Specialty equipment:

  • 4x 10 cm cake tins
  • Serrated knife
  • Palette or butter knife
  • Cake stand or plate

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Do your prep. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Grease four 10cm cake tins with butter. Cut a circle from baking paper the same size as the tin.

For the cakes combine the butter and sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters until light and fluffy. This usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes. Add one egg and continue to mix until it is well incorporated. Continue with the remaining eggs. Add the combined flours and milk and carefully stir with a large metal spoon or silicon spatula. Do this very slowly or the milk will splatter. Divide between the four tins. Place the tins on a baking tray, on the middle shelf of your pre-heated oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cakes have risen, are golden brown, and a cocktail skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before proceeding.

For the buttercream beat the softened butter and icing sugars in a large mixing bowl, using electric beaters at low speed, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and milk and stir until combined. Allow to stand for a few minutes to firm up.

Assemble the cake. Place one cooled cake on a flat surface. There will be a bit of the cake that rises above the tin. This is called the crown. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the crown off the cake. Repeat with the remaining cakes until you have four even layers. You can use the leftover cake to make cake pops, or simply enjoy with leftover frosting for afternoon tea.

Place a small dollop of icing onto the centre of the cake stand. This will hold the cake steady as you ice. Place the first cake layer over the dollop. Spread ¼ of the icing mixture over the surface of the cake and gently top with the second layer. Repeat twice for the remaining cakes, finishing with a cake layer for the top.

Use the leftover icing to cover the surface of the cake. The best way to do this is to dollop the icing in small patches all over the cake and spread it thinly over the surface. When you are happy with your icing job, allow the cake to stand for twenty minutes to allow the icing to set. Decorate with your favourite fruits and flowers and serve.

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Writer’s note: A version of this article was first published in Grapeshot Magazine Issue 5|Volume 6| August 2014: 50th Anniversary Special.

Happy Cooking and Keep Smiling,

Brendon 🙂



10 Comments Add yours

  1. milkandbun says:

    Oh my gosh!!!! I love this cake!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much. I really enjoyed making it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love naked cakes! This is stunning 🙂


    1. Thanks very much for the lovely comment 🙂


  3. Ria says:

    Hey Brendon! Wow, this site is pretty amazing! And I have to say, it’s refreshing to see food bloggers who actually take time researching the food they are blogging about! Quality wins over quantity =)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ria,

      Thanks very much for your kind words. It really means a lot that you took the time to leave this message. I definitely enjoy taking the time to research a piece, and I believe, as a media producer, it’s only the right thing to do. It ensures that my readers are getting the best possible information about a particulate topic. Also it’s a lot of fun to share these ideas with like minded people. Thanks for your kind words and I hope you enjoy the rest of the blog 🙂


  4. Absolutely love your naked cake…I think I will take some inspiration with me next time I do a little cake-baking. Thank you for sharing!


    1. Thanks very much, I really appreciate your kind words. It was a really fun cake to make as well. Cheers and keep smiling 🙂


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