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Fresh berries on top of a naked cake with a stack of plates in the background.

Naked Cake

Simple but elegant, this Naked Cake is perfect for any occasion. If you're not a fan of frosting a cake, then this recipe is for you!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 914kcal


  • Mixing Bowls
  • Stand mixer or electric mixer
  • 3 (8-inch) cake pans


For the Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (360g)
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cups unsalted butter softened (284g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups whole milk room temperature (320ml)

For the Vanilla Buttercream:

  • cups unsalted butter room temperature (340g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (720g)
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons heavy cream room temperature (75-90ml)


For the Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter 3 (8-inch) cake pans or spray with baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Wrap with water-soaked fabric baking strips, if desired.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each one is well incorporated before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the bowl between each egg. Beat in the vanilla.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the milk. Repeat, alternating between flour and milk until both are fully combined. Stop and scrape down the bowl occasionally. Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool for 20 minutes in the pans. Invert onto a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely. (You can then freeze the cake layers for 30 minutes for easier frosting, but this is optional!)

For the Vanilla Buttercream:

  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, vanilla, and salt together on medium-high speed until the butter is light and easily spreadable, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, gradually mix in the sugar, about ½ a cup at a time, alternating with a tablespoon of cream on occasion. Stop and scrape down the bowl a few times during mixing.
  • Once the sugar and cream are incorporated, increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

For the Assembly:

  • Place one cooled cake layer on a cake stand. Spread 1 cup of frosting over the top, all the way to the edge. Place another cake layer on top and spread another 1 cup of frosting over the cake. Top with the remaining layer.
  • Spread a thin layer of frosting on the sides of the cake and a thicker layer on top with the remaining frosting. Run the side of a large offset spatula or a bench scraper around the side of the cake to remove excess frosting. Top with fresh berries, if desired. I recommend chilling the cake for 30 minutes before slicing. Leftover cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days.


  • I use cake strips to help the cake bake without a dome. If you don’t want to buy cake strips, I have a post on how to DIY cake strips. Cake strips work by keeping the outside edge of the pan cooler to ensure that the entire cake rises at the same rate, preventing a dome from forming in the middle.
  • Avoid over-mixing the batter as you risk over-developing the gluten leading to a tough, dry, and dense cake.
  • I highly recommend using a scale to measure your flour as it’s the most accurate method. If you add too much flour to the cake batter, you’ll have a dense cake. If you don’t have a scale, fluff your flour with a spoon and then spoon it into your cups before leveling it off with a knife. This method is the best way to measure flour without overpacking the measuring cup.
  • The longer you can refrigerate the naked cake, the better. It helps stabilize the cake, and the buttercream will stick to the cake layers better.
  • If you are making the cake in advance, hold off on adding the berries or other decorations on top of the cake. Placing the berries on top before serving helps keep them from leaking any juices and staining the cake as it sits.


Calories: 914kcal | Carbohydrates: 119g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 184mg | Sodium: 277mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 94g | Vitamin A: 1526IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 2mg