Making a naked cake (the hard way!)

I blinked and he was two years old.. The time has gone so quickly that my little baby I gave birth to yesterday is now two.. I love a good theme for parties and this year we went for a jungle theme. I had all these decorations and activities planned ages ago and of course corona came and pooped all over my plans, but we decided to plough on anyways even though his little friends were not able to  celebrate with us. We will for sure do a jungle party at some point once it’s all safe. I will be posting about the jungle decorations soon as well so if you are planning a jungle themed party then watch this space. So! Jungle theme needs a jungle cake!

I made a naked cake last year with a woodland theme and as it was so good I thought I’d follow the same steps and tweak the decoration on top. My plan was to colour the whipped cream green and create a little jungle on top. Spoiler alert – It didn’t quite go according to my plan, but I got there in the end. So this is a story how to do naked cake the hard way haha!

The cake base is this recipe from the domestic goddess herself Nigella Lawson. I do love her baking recipes. The cake comes out really moist and rich, lovely even on it’s own. I don’t do the fudge icing and I use whipped cream and stack my cake bases to create naked cake style. Her recipe is simple, you just need three bowls and ability to mix!

Ingredients

Cake base

  • 400g self raising flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • ½ ts salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 142ml sour cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 175g unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 125ml corn oil
  • 300ml cool water

Topping

  • Whipping or double cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 banana
  • Few drops of green food colouring 
  • Candles, I used these
  • 1 giraffe calf with a party hat (I love Schleich animals and party hat was made with gold vinyl I had on hand)

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Switch your oven on to 180°C/ 160°C Fan/ gas mark 4/350ºF and grease your cake tin. This recipe will give you either two 16 cm/6 inch cakes or one 21 cm/8 inch, so if making a big cake like my woodlands one below in the post then you need to double the recipe.

Firstly mix all the dry ingredients together. Nigella uses plain flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, but I actually substituted all that with self raising. I sieved cocoa, but rest I just chucked in and gave it a good stir.

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In a second bowl mix eggs and sour cream until combined.

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And finally in a third bowl mix corn oil and melted and cooled butter. Then chuck the oil/butter mix into the dry ingredients and stir until all combined. Then add the last bowl of eggs and sour cream and mix it all together. I used electric whisk, but you can do by hand too.

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Then pour into a greased tin and bake in the oven for 50-55mins. I only had one little tin so I poured half of my mixture and baked it.

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You can see if your cake is ready by putting a skewer in and if it comes out clean then it’s ready. Let it cool in its tin on a wire rack for 10-15 mins and then tip it out to cool completely on the rack. I washed and greased my little cake tin again and then baked the second layer. Once both cakes had cooled completely I used a big knife to cut out uneven bits off and then stacked them on top of each other to ensure I wasn’t going to end up with a leaning tower of Pisa of a cake. Don’t worry if the top doesn’t look smooth, it will be covered. 

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I actually baked my cake bases the day before so I put them on a plate and cling film over them and they were absolutely fine the next day. 

I thought I would put mashed banana and whipped cream in between the layers. To get the naked cake effect you just dollop a lot of whipping cream in between the layers, so much so that when you squish the top layer down a bit, it oozes out on to the sides. Then using a spatula smash the cream against the cake sides and work your way around the cake. Use the spatula to scoop some more whipped cream and smush it on to the side.

So if you remember I wanted my cream to be green so once I had whipped my cream I separated a little bit to add green colourant. Now here is the mistake.. I put waaay too much of it in.. “Ooooh, I’m sure it’ll look ok on the cake” I thought to myself as I started to spread it..

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No. No. No. Noooooo…. It was not looking good.. Our video call with grandparents was due to start in ten minutes and I started to have sweaty pits and now a toddler running around in my ankles.. I finished it, but it looked absolutely terrible! It looked like it was a love child between Halloween and St Patrick’s and not at all what I wanted! Womp womp..

As I stood there and thought how this hideousness would be photographed and forever recorded in my memories I thought “no way, not in my name!” and decided to scrape it all off! Of course not all of it came off and time was ticking on, so stubbornly I carried on.. I then put white whipped cream (luckily I had separated the bowls and had some ready whipped!) and worked it around the cake again with a spatula.

By this point my nerves were in shreds and I didn’t think I could pull it back – so no pics. BUT! the white cream mixed with bits of the horrible green cream mixed with scraped brown cake it started to look a bit more earthy and pastel-ly? Okay okay.. maybe I got this? I kept going, aware of the time, aware of my toddler now asking for cake repeatedly in increasing intervals, aware of the mess I had made in the kitchen and mostly aware how this green colouring had coloured my fingers up to my knuckles! Once the cake was covered with my weird mixture of whipped cream, tiny bit of green colouring and some cake that had lifted off it looked.. minty..?

I sighed a relief and started to work on the top of the cake. So first choose which bit is the best lookin’ one and determine it to be the front. Then I put on my little giraffe calf in the middle with his party hat on and then the candles slightly angled. Finally I topped it off with mint sprigs. I created a little height behind the candles to balance the giraffe and then surrounded the giraffe on the cake perimeter. I also had added a few leaves on the bottom to create a little interest there too.  

So if you want to achieve this look then either do what I did (and put good deodorant on) OR use your colouring sparingly!

For reference, this was way too much

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All in all very happy how it turned out after my mini drama in the kitchen haha! And it tasted divine too! Toddler of course would have eaten it regardless, this one was for mama. 

cake

If you want to do woodland theme then this is my cake last year for his first birthday. It’s made with 21cm / 8 inch cake tin with two layers as we actually had guests too.

Woodland naked cake

I put whipped cream all the way to the top of the cake on this one and then sieved cocoa powder on top of the white whipped cream to create a darker base to avoid it looking snowy in June.. For animals I had a mama deer and baby deer on top and fox at the base. I arranged the deer on top first and used mint as well to create a little greenery. I tried it with rosemary for a little practise cake and uhm… you could totally taste it if you got that piece, so stick with herbs you like the taste of and go with cake!

I also made a little banner for it using bamboo skewers and a bit of linen fabric that I cut to diamond shape and then glued together with a string running through it. I then used a permanent marker to make the letters once the glue was dry and strung it between the bamboo skewers.

In between layers I used raspberry jam instead of mashed banana and it was really delicious too! Actually I preferred the taste on the woodland cake, but then I really like chocolate-raspberry combo. Even my wedding cake was that flavour. And no, I didn’t bake that one. My mother in law did 😀

This cake and how you decorate it is so versatile! It’s the perfect base for a naked cake even for a novice baker like me. Just take it easy with food colouring if using.. I’m going to stick to white cream from now on!

If you end up giving this a go,  I would love to see what you create! Please send a photo or tag me on Instagram!

 

 

2 thoughts on “Making a naked cake (the hard way!)

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