Naked cakes: Couples favoring simpler designs, particularly for rustic weddings
Current wedding trends show a particular fondness for rustic venues.
Many area couples are choosing to marry outdoors, exchanging vows in barns, lake side or in front of silos.
They often decorate with Mason jars and wildflowers, eschewing any “fussiness.”
The “less is more” design also is showing up in wedding cakes, some area bakers say.
Instead of layers of fondant, or inch-thick frosting on the sides, some brides are going naked. Or, at least, their cakes are.
Jennifer Christy, pastry chef and owner of Sweet Treats Bakery in Freeport, Armstrong County, says she started noticing the trend last fall.
Christy, who prepares cakes for many weddings at Twisted Thistle and Lingrow Farm, both in Leechburg, thinks the more rustic settings are leading to the requests.
“There are full naked cakes, and semi-naked cakes. Full naked is zero icing on the outside. Semi-naked is a thin (exterior) icing layer,” she says.
“The thing that sets off (naked cakes) are flowers or berries. You can't have it without those,” Christy says.
One of her favorite naked cakes, she says, has a pink and blush color scheme with gold leaf, and received a lot of on-line interest.
Several bakers say that wooden die-cut toppers are popular on naked cakes.
Rather than traditional bride and groom figurines, couples are selecting simpler designs and expressions, reading “Love” or “My happy ever after” or “Let the adventure begin.”
Boho shower cake
Amanda Todora, 24, of Star Junction in Fayette County, asked good friend Maria Hoose to make her a naked cake for her bridal shower in June.
“I was just looking on Pinterest. My theme for my shower was ‘boho.' That was the kind of cake that kept coming up, a naked cake with flowers or fruit. I thought it was really pretty,” she says.
Hoose was a bit disappointed at being asked to make an understated cake, Todora says.
“She did a good job,” she says.
The three-layer cake lightly decorated with a bit of white frosting, with real burgundy and green flowers placed on top, sides and bottom, was a hit with her guests, Todora says.
“A lot of people were really impressed with it and took pictures of it because it was different. Everybody really liked it,” she says.
Janelle Hayes, owner of Mixed with Love Cake & Cookie Co . in Pittsburgh, says about 30 percent of the wedding cakes she baked for clients this year were naked or semi-naked.
“They are super popular for people who want something rustic but elegant,” she says.
Hayes says trends travel, and the naked cake trend appears to have begun popping up in Europe before stateside brides learned about it.
Websites like Pinterest and The Knot also feature the cakes, leading many brides to ask about them during appointments with bakers.
“Most people either really like or don't like the naked cakes,” Hayes says.
She's made cakes with peanut butter frosting or strawberry butter cream to provide a bit of color to otherwise plain “brown” cakes.
“I mostly do semi-naked cakes. I try and steer clients (toward those) because it helps keep the cakes fresher and moist,” Hayes says.
Most clients opt for a “plain and simple” cake, she says, with little or no frosting on the top tier and maybe flowers and a rustic topper.
Cupcakes to doughnutsand back again
Trends come and go, notes Stacey Spinola, proprietor of Spinola's Bake Shop and Coffee Room in Murrysville.
“It's all very cyclical. Three summers ago, I bet, half of our wedding cakes were tree trunks (designs) with hearts carved into them. The next year, we were back to more traditional cakes,” she says.
Spinola has baked doughnuts, cupcakes, cake pops and pies for weddings as couples try to find a distinctive dessert for their special day.
“We have been doing naked cakes for several years, I think partly because wedding magazines and wedding shows are always looking for something different to show brides,” Spinola says.
She estimates a small but steady number of her wedding clients, about 15 to 20 percent, request naked cakes. Decorations typically include flowers or fruit, sometimes sugared fruits to add some sparkle.
“We offer ours with fillings and a light (exterior) frosting, with some spots bare,” she says.
Simple syrup and plastic wrap help keep the cakes moist until delivery.
And Spinola likes the idea of layering different colors and flavors, like red and white to give a candy cane stripe effect.
As a way of celebrating the new bride and groom, bakers say, everyone likes cake, dressed or undressed.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaryPickels.