Put down that piping bag and spare yourself the fussy icing swirls. With these naked cakes, it's time to bare all …

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Image: In the buff: best-ever naked cakes

Photo: Naked Cakes by Hannah MilesPhoto: Steve Painter

You won't want to decorate a cake ever again …

 

So what is a naked cake? 

Don't worry, this isn't about baking in nothing but your apron (cheeky). We're talking naked cakes here, which means stripping back the icing and revealing each layer of cakey goodness for everyone to see.

 

According to MasterChef finalist and Naked Cakes author, Hannah Miles, the surge in bare-it-all tiered sponges started as a wedding cake trend … but now every discerning baker is at it. "Decorations should be simple, but spectacular," says Miles, and throughout her book you'll see ombré-coloured sponges and wreaths of freshly picked blooms atop her naked masterpieces. 

 

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Bunting cake

Photo: Naked Cakes by Hannah MilesPhoto: Steve Painter

What are the rules? 

"There are very few hard and fast rules with naked cakes, but the one essential requirement is that the sides of the sponges are on display and are not covered," says Miles.

 

But because the rules are made for breaking, there are exceptions: "It is acceptable for them to have a small drizzle of icing, a dusting of icing sugar, or the thinnest layer of buttercream, providing you can still see the sponge through the icing."

 

What makes naked cakes a big deal?

They're rustic, charming and great for people who don't like buttercream. But the reason we love them is because they're perfect for picnics and gatherings in the sun – an icing-free cake is much easier to transport and won't melt into a sugary mess.

 

Want one for yourself? Here’s our pick of the best naked cakes around:

 

1. Bunting cake

As you can see in the photo above, this totally nude cake has reason to celebrate. Although its topping isn't edible, the DIY fabric bunting is a real sight to behold. With whipped cream and strawberry jam, it couldn't be more classic if it tried.

 

Recipe available from Naked Cakes: Simply Stunning Cakes, Hannah Miles (hardcover, RRP £16.99, Ryland Peters & Small).

 

2. Naked wedding layer cake

Once you've mastered the naked layer cake, there will be no stopping you. Add a few more tiers, style with wild flowers and lavender, and you've got yourself a million-dollar-looking centrepiece. Huzzah.

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Naked wedding cake

Photo: Naomi Kenton via frenchmade.co.uk

 

3. Naked honey tea cake

A real treasure in Manila, this delicately flavoured honey cake is inspired by the bakeries of the Philippine capital. Make it shine with a sprinkling of icing sugar and a few fresh picks from the garden.

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4. Strawberry and cream cake

This two-tier naked cake is held together with sturdy buttercream, yes, but it's the succulent strawberries that really steal the show. How very Wimbledon.

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5. Naked chocolate meringue cake

This simple beauty is all smooth sides with a meringue halo on top. For this effect, the meringue is spooned on top of the raw cake mixture and they're baked together in perfect harmony. 

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Naked chocolate cake

Photo: mbakes.com

 

6. Naked mini citrus cakes

For something smaller, how about these traffic-light mini sponges, flavoured with lime, lemon and grapefruit. These have a naughty drizzle of icing, but you could go completely nude and they'd look just as sweet.

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7. Rhubarb and almond cake

Ah, rhubarb – why on earth would you ever cover up those long, pink stems? Subvert the norm and reveal all with this fruity bake that's definitely best served with a dollop of cream.

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8. Naked grape, lemon and thyme bundt cake

The bundt shape is ideal for naked baking and a light dusting of icing sugar highlights its sumptuous curves. Aimee at Twigg Studios suggests serving this herby cake with honeycomb and yogurt cheese. Sounds good to us!

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9. Naked Madeira cake

Naked and proud, all you need for this bear-it-all moment is a generous helping of juicy berries. Icing and buttercream – your moment is officially over.

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10. The Charlotte royale

"This cake is so naked that the sponge itself forms the decoration," says Miles. Serve this up at your next birthday party or soirée and someone might just enter you for the Great British Bake Off.

 

Recipe available from Naked Cakes: Simply Stunning Cakes, Hannah Miles (hardcover, RRP £16.99, Ryland Peters & Small).

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Charlotte Royale

Photo: Naked Cakes by Hannah MilesPhoto: Steve Painter

 

11. Pistachio layer cake

This one is the cover star of Hannah Miles' Naked Cakes for a reason. The ombré-colouring effect is the prettiest naked-style of all – simply add increasing amounts of food colouring to each layer's mixture. 

 

Recipe available from Naked Cakes: Simply Stunning Cakes, Hannah Miles (hardcover, RRP £16.99, Ryland Peters & Small).

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Pistachio ombre cake

Photo: Naked Cakes by Hannah MilesPhoto: Steve Painter

Dare to bare it all? Tell us about your glorious naked cakes in the comments box below or tweet us @Homemade