How To Frost A Flawless Semi-Naked Cake

how to frost semi naked buttercream cake

If there’s one thing that always looks good semi-naked, it’s a cake. The barely-there buttercream is such a versatile look that works well for almost any kind of event. Whether you dress it with fresh flowers, drip it with ganache, or tint the buttercream, you can get pretty creative with this rustic or minimalist look. And the best part is, the semi-naked technique is extremely easy. You just need to know a few key things before attempting it to set yourself up for success.

If you’re more of a video-inclined learner, here’s a quick one I shot of the semi-naked technique. I’ll break everything down in the tutorial in the next section:

You Will Need:

  • Thin Consistency Buttercream (this Vanilla Buttercream recipe is perfect)
  • Baked Cake Layers
  • Offset Spatula
  • Bench Scraper
  • Turntable

Step 1: Prep Your Cake Layers

If you haven’t already, start by torting your cake layers to an even, level height. In my opinion, this step should never be missed, no matter what kind of cake you’re creating. Torting helps to get rid of any domed cake tops, thus setting your entire cake up for being super level and sharp.

funfetti cake layers

Once your layers are perfectly even and level, fill them and start stacking them. Tip: when you’re stacking your cake layers, it helps to very slightly offset the middle layer so that the edge sticks out a little further in some areas. The top and bottom layers should be completely parallel for evenly straight sides, but slightly offsetting the center layer (and I’m talking a centimeter or two) will help create more varying depth with your semi-naked finish.

Step 2: Frost And Smooth The Top Of The Cake

Start frosting the top of the cake by placing a bit of buttercream on the top and smoothing it with an offset spatula, turning the cake on your turntable as you smooth.

how to frost a semi naked cake

You should have enough frosting on the top of the cake that it extends about ¼ inch beyond the top edges.   

Step 3: Frost And Smooth The Sides Of The Cake

Using that same offset spatula, apply buttercream to the sides of the cake, starting at the bottom and working your way up to the top. Since the semi-naked look involves buttercream that looks barely there, try to apply a pretty thin layer.

tips for the perfect semi naked cake

When you’ve got the sides covered, take your bench scraper and smooth the sides of the cake until they’re straight and you have some nice areas of cake peeking through. If you have areas that need more buttercream, simply apply more buttercream and keep smoothing until you like what you see.

how to create a semi naked buttercream finish

Try not to press too hard when you’re smoothing the more “naked” areas, since you could puncture the cake layers and cause them to crumble. If this happens, just smooth it over with more buttercream.

Step 4: Smooth The Top Edges

Now that your sides are looking so rustic and beautiful, you’ll probably notice a little buttercream crown has formed around the top edge of your cake. This is a really good sign, because it means you’re going to have a nice, sharp top edge when you’re done smoothing it.

tips for smooth buttercream cake

Using your offset spatula, smooth the buttercream crown inward, moving the buttercream toward the middle of the cake. The goal here is to create level, sharp edges by swiping through the buttercream crown and moving the excess buttercream across the top of the cake. Smooth the top of the cake until it’s level and you don’t have a dome in the middle from moving the buttercream crown inward.

Step 5: Decorate

Now that you’ve created your very own semi-naked cake, it’s time to dress it up a little! Some awesome next steps would be incorporating some fresh flowers (made food safe) to decorate, doing a ganache drip, or keeping the design rustic with some greenery like fresh herbs or eucalyptus! Here’s what I’ve done in the past: 

how to decorate a semi naked cake

semi naked drip cake by sugar and sparrow

Whether it’s your first semi-naked cake attempt or not, let me know if this tutorial was helpful and show me what you’ve created by tagging me on Instagram! I’d love to see your creations.


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