Vanilla Naked Cake

How to make a beautiful naked cake with fresh berries, vanilla cake, and vanilla buttercream. Homemade wedding cake on

Welcome to the March Baking Challenge! We’re baking, designing, and styling NAKED CAKES. Naked cakes, with zero to minimal frosting on the outside, expose the cake layers and filling. This rustic and chic cake presentation has been all the rage for the past few years, popping up everywhere on the wedding, baby shower, bridal shower, and party scenes. Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi is credited with starting the trend back in 2013 when she began highlighting the cake layers, instead of just the frosting. Now naked cakes are a bakery staple!

Naked cake is the perfect baking challenge recipe for March. Wedding celebration season is upon us, along with Easter, spring, and Mother’s Day. Like most monthly challenges, you have creative control this month. You can decorate and style the naked cake in your own unique way, which makes the challenge 100x more fun. Today I’m sharing my tips for decorating a naked cake, a video showing you how, the vanilla cake recipe I used, plus plenty of inspiration for you to get started.

There’s a lot of ground to cover today, so let’s get right to it!!

How to make a beautiful naked cake with fresh berries, vanilla cake, and vanilla buttercream. Homemade wedding cake on

There are 2 types of naked cakes. The cake in today’s photos is called a “semi-naked” or “half dressed” cake. There’s a minimal amount of frosting swiped around the sides. So in other words, a semi-naked cake is a crumb-coated cake.

Or you can simplify the design even further with a true naked cake. This means the sides of the cake are bare. Both styles are simple, approachable, and beautiful.

How to make a beautiful naked cake with fresh berries, vanilla cake, and vanilla buttercream. Homemade wedding cake on

Let’s focus on a semi-naked cake because that’s how I decorated the cake in today’s photos and video. To begin, you’ll need a layer cake. You can use any of my layer cake recipes, the vanilla layer cake recipe below, or any layer cake recipe you love. Three or four layer cakes provide enough height to work with, but you can easily decorate a two layer cake this way. See my red velvet cake as an example. (I recently made and reshot that recipe!) Tiered cakes are great too. Feel free to use my cake batter recipes for different size pans to create a tiered cake.

I dotted fresh raspberries between my cake layers. Admittedly, I only dotted them around the edges because I ran out of raspberries. Oops! But I love how they peek out the sides. The fresh raspberries also provide a lovely texture variation. If you decide to do this as well, be warned that the raspberries will leak some juice around the edges after a day or so. I would leave the berries out if you’re making this cake in advance for a party or celebration.

Vanilla buttercream is my favorite for the half-dressed cake style. It’s simple and shows off the semi-exposed cake layers as well as the cake’s decorative pieces. Not fan of vanilla? I have plenty of frosting recommendations below.

Vanilla buttercream for naked cake on

Want to watch me assemble and decorate a naked cake? Here you go!


  1. Make a plan. Think about how much frosting you want. Do you want a naked cake or a semi-naked cake? What about decor? I have plenty of suggestions below.
  2. Prep the cake pans appropriately. Use quality cake pans and grease them well. I always use nonstick spray. Use an equal amount of batter per pan. Easiest and most accurate way to do this is to whip out your kitchen scale. Place your cake pan on top and begin pouring. Make sure each pan weighs the same.
  3. Level your cakes. Level off the top of your cakes so each side is flat. Flat and even layers add stability to your finished cake. You can use a cake leveler or large serrated knife. I always use my serrated knife.
  4. Just keep it simple. Make it easier on yourself. I’ve seen many naked cakes calling for a soak in simple syrup to prevent it from drying out. You can absolutely take this route, especially if you’re making a true naked cake, but I don’t find the need if you’re starting out with an already moist cake. (Like my vanilla cake below.) Lots of naked cake tutorials I’ve seen online call for piping frosting between layers, but I skip this too. I use an icing spatula to spread the frosting. The frosting recipe below yields about 4.5 cups. I used 1.5 cups between each layer and another 1.5 cups on the top and around the sides.
  5. The fridge is your best friend. Always chill your naked cake in the refrigerator for a few hours before slicing and serving. This stabilizes all your hard work! It helps the frosting adhere to the sides of the cake and in between the cake layers, as well as ensuring a neater slice. Then you can set the cake out at room temperature for your party or celebration.


  1. Straight spatula. A lot of cake decorators use an offset spatula to apply frosting on a cake, but I prefer a straight spatula. Maybe it’s the way my hands work, but it’s just easier for me to use!
  2. Bench scraper. Use this for running around the sides of the cake to smooth out the frosting.
  3. Cake turntable. This is optional. Many of you told me I needed one because it makes the job easier. And you were right! I did NOT use it for the cake pictured today, but you can watch me using it in the video. You can transfer your decorated cake to a cake stand by using these cake circles. I used one in the video.


Any cake flavor and frosting counts for the challenge. Mix and match cake flavors, frostings, and decor to create your own truly unique naked cake.

Here are cake flavors you can use.
Plenty of options here, including 2 older recipes with updated photos. These cakes are all pretty moist, so I wouldn’t worry about them drying out– especially if you choose the semi-naked/crumb coat look.

Here are frosting flavors you can use.
You can freeze any leftover frosting for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator for next time.

Here are some decor ideas.
I kept it simple with florals and berries, but you can go wild. I recommend starting simple, then building on what you have.

  • Fresh flowers. Use flowers that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. Avoid strong-smelling flowers as the smell may linger on the cake. And if you can find edible flowers, that’s even better.
  • Fresh berries or any fruit. My favorite!
  • Smaller sweet treats like candies, cookies, meringues, and chocolates
  • Candied citrus
  • Nuts or seeds
  • Fresh herbs
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Sprinkles

Here are some cake stands.
To show off your stunning masterpiece!

Get creative, let your inner cake artist shine, and most of all… have fun!

How to make a beautiful naked cake with fresh berries, vanilla cake, and vanilla buttercream. Homemade wedding cake on

If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate March Baking Challenge:

After you make the baking challenge recipe or alternative, share your photos throughout this month using #sallysbakingchallenge on Instagram or Twitter, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group. Or email it to me! (You can also message me your photo on Instagram if your account is private.) By doing so, you’re automatically entered in the $250 giveaway!!

Vanilla Naked Cake


  • 3 and 3/4 cups (431g) sifted all-purpose flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract (yes, Tbsp!)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (420ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • optional: 1-2 cups fresh raspberries (or other berry, see note)

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5-6 cups (600-720g) confectioners' sugar
  • 5-6 Tablespoons (75-90ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • finishing decorations (see post above for inspiration!)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick.
  4. There is about 8 cups of batter total, so each layer will be 2 and 2/3 cups. Pour/spread batter evenly into prepared cake pans. If you're worried about uneven cake layers, you can use a kitchen scale and weigh the cake pans for accuracy. (The weight of just the batter in my cake pans was about 1 lb 6 ounces.)
  5. Bake for around 25-26 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Add 5 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 5 Tablespoons heavy cream, the vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add 1/2 cup more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin, 1 more Tablespoon cream if frosting is too thick, or a pinch more of salt if frosting is way too sweet. Yields about 4.5 cups of frosting.
  7. Assemble and decorate the cake: Watch the video above for a tutorial on assembling and decorating this naked cake. First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Spread 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting evenly on top. If using, dot half of the raspberries around the rim. Flatten them down into the frosting as best you can so the cake layer on top is sturdy. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with another 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting and more (flattened!) raspberries around the rim. You can sprinkle a few leftover raspberries in the center, too. (Like I did in the video.) Top with the third cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting on top and all around the sides using an icing spatula. Use a bench scraper to smooth out the frosting on the sides of the cake. If you're making a full naked cake, just spread the remaining frosting on top of the cake. If you have leftover frosting, you can freeze it for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator for next time.
  8. Decorate the cake with garnishes.
  9. Refrigerate the cake for 2-3 hours or up to 1 day before slicing and serving. If chilling for more than a few hours, loosely cover with plastic wrap after 1 hour of refrigeration. (The frosting will "set" after about 1 hour and the plastic wrap won't really ruin your frosting at that point.) And if you're chilling for more than a few hours, I suggest decorating with garnishes right before serving (so as not to wilt the flowers, etc).
  10. Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Make ahead tip: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake the next day when you are ready to serve. The frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day-- see step 8. The frosted cake can also be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

Recipe Notes:

*Sift flour before measuring.

*If needed, you can use whole milk mixed with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead of buttermilk.

*The raspberries will leak some juice around the edges after a day or so. I would leave the berries out if you're making this cake in advance for a party or celebration.

Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.

I used this cake recipe for my checkerboard cake. The cake layers are slightly thicker here because this cake is 3 layers instead of 4. If you want to make the naked cake as a 4 layer cake, use 2 cups of batter for each cake layer and bake for 23-24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.


Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | 9-inch Round Cake PansBench Scraper | Frosting Spatula | Turntable Rotating Cake Stand

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

All the tips, tricks, tools, and recipe you need to create a beautiful and rustic vanilla naked cake! This homemade vanilla cake is perfect for showers and weddings. Recipe on



  1. Joyce on March 1, 2018 at 12:10 am

    I’m super excited about this! Naked cakes are just my thing because I like a minimal amount of frosting on my cakes. And it’s challenging because there’s no hiding of broken cakes, discoloured layers and runny fillings behind a ton of buttercream or fondant.

    I usually avoid baking cakes because I dislike cake decorating. But I’ll be taking part in this challenge for sure!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:25 am

      Glad you’re excited about it Joyce! What I love about this cake style is that you really can’t go wrong. No need for over the top cake decor. Simple is best.

  2. Del's cooking twist on March 1, 2018 at 12:13 am

    Your naked cake is just stunning and the pictures are dreamy! Love everything about it and I wish I could grab the plate with the slice right now. Could you send it to Chicago for me maybe? 😉

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:23 am

      Thanks Del!

  3. Del's cooking twist on March 1, 2018 at 12:18 am

    Oh, and I forgot! I LOVE the video tutorial. I ask for more of them! 🙂

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 5:56 pm

      Aww! Thank you! 🙂

  4. naomi on March 1, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Hi Sally, I’m really keen on making the tuxedo cake for my husband’s birthday and i would love to do this challenge as well. do you think the tuxedo cake will hold up as a semi-naked cake? thanks in advance!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:23 am

      Sure will!

  5. Gayatri on March 1, 2018 at 1:01 am

    Sally these photos are GORGEOUS! Seriously, it’s like a work of art!! I’m thinking of making your red velvet cake this way, fingers crossed!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:23 am

      Thanks Gayatri!

  6. Natalie on March 1, 2018 at 1:20 am

    This is such a beautiful cake! I love naked cakes – they always look so good and appetizing. YUM!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 5:56 pm

      Thank you Natalie!!

  7. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower on March 1, 2018 at 1:27 am

    This cake is soo gorgeous, Sally! I really can’t wait to give it a try. I’ve always loved the minimalist look of the naked cake, and this one sounds perfect. And I had no idea that Christina Tosi started the naked cake trend. I recently had the chance to visit Milk Bar in Las Vegas, and I’m so obsessed with it now. Thanks for sharing this, Sally!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      Thank you Andrea! How fun that you were able to visit the Las Vegas Milk Bar 🙂 Happy baking!

  8. Liz on March 1, 2018 at 2:48 am

    I am confused about how you are doing a crumb coat, but there are no crumbs. How does this work? Refrigerate the layers first?

    BTW, it’s beautiful.

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:20 am

      Hey Liz! This vanilla cake isn’t very crumby to begin with. You can see some crumbs, but there weren’t many when I was decorating it.

  9. Patricia @Sweet and Strong on March 1, 2018 at 7:09 am

    This cake is SO beautiful!  I’ve been to the Milk Bar in DC but only ever gotten the soft serve, would love to try their naked cake too.  

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Thank you Patricia! Add naked cake to your list the next time you’re at a Milk Bar location 😉

  10. cookie on March 1, 2018 at 7:34 am

    I love your video tutorial. The cake is so beautiful and easy to make.

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Thank you so much! Happy baking 🙂

  11. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) on March 1, 2018 at 7:57 am

    ahhhh it is beautiful!! I’ve never been a fan of too much frosting (and I suck at decorating) so I love naked cake on multiple levels!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      Thank you Kayle!! The perfect cake for people who love just a little bit of frosting but a whole lot of pretty 🙂

  12. Mary Penn on March 1, 2018 at 8:19 am

    You’re cake is gorgeous Sally! Thanks so much for your detailed baking blog.
    I can’t wait to make this naked cake:)!!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      Thank you Mary! Happy baking 🙂

  13. Kayla Brownlow on March 1, 2018 at 8:25 am

    So excited about this! Do you think the Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake recipe would work for this? Or stick with a basic cake batter and do a lemon buttercream with blueberry garnish?!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      My lemon blueberry layer cake would work wonderfully for this! Let me know if you try it 🙂

  14. Lou B. on March 1, 2018 at 8:30 am

    This cake is stunning! And your photography keeps getting better and better. I’m proud of you, Sally. I’ve been following your blog for almost 4 years now and most of what I have learned is because of you! Thank you for challenging and motivating us, you’re the best! 

    Might give it a try with a Chocolate cake and peanut butter frosting.. one of my favorite combos! 

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      You are so sweet, Lou! Thank you for your continuous support 🙂 Your chocolate/peanut butter combo sounds absolutely delicious!!

  15. Jennifer on March 1, 2018 at 9:20 am

    Hi Sally does it matter if I make a mini cake?

    I only have one cake pan and have the idea to use a biscuit cutter to cut out little rounds and use those as the layers in the cake.

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 11:08 am

      Doesn’t matter how large or small the naked or semi-naked cake is!

      • Jennifer on March 1, 2018 at 12:04 pm

        thanks! so excited for this challenge! 🙂

  16. Tori// on March 1, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Omg, Sally! It’s gorgeous and I simply love the video! I don’t know why you have such little confidence in your decorating abilities, everything you make always looks beautiful!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 11:08 am

      Thank you so much Tori!! I’m feeling more and more proud of my cakes/cookies each time I decorate!

  17. ashley @ thedelightfulbite on March 1, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Oh my goodness, how I love naked cakes! I had a semi-naked cake for my wedding cake a year and half ago. They are my absolute favorite, they are simple yet so beautiful. I tried to make one a few weeks ago and was just scraping the sides with my spatula. It didn’t quite give me the look I was going for. WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THE SCRAPER?? After I saw you use a scraper in the video, it was a definite ah-ha moment!! Thanks, Sally! Going to give your vanilla naked cake a go!!! Your photos are goregous btw!!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Ashley, I used to use my spatula too. You don’t get anywhere NEAR the same smooth look! Let me know how yours turns out. Thank you for the compliment on my pictures!

  18. Jill on March 1, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I’m not a fan of buttercream frosting….it’s just too much butter….could this style of cake be made with a seven minute frosting? Any suggestions ?

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Hi Jill! You can try it. I would recommend a whipped cream over 7 minute frosting though.

      • Jill contich on March 1, 2018 at 2:37 pm

        Do you have a lightened buttercream frosting recipe? Is that possible 🙂 Thanks !

      • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 3:19 pm

        I don’t, sorry!

  19. Lane on March 1, 2018 at 9:59 am

    What a beautiful cake!! I’m dying to do this challenge. I have a friends 30th birthday party coming up and she loves chocolate. Might try it with your chocolate cake recipe!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Oh how fun! The perfect birthday cake 🙂 Happy baking!

  20. Sam on March 1, 2018 at 10:16 am

    I tried making a naked cake last summer…got to the end and didn’t like how it looked and frosted the entire thing! But I’m definitely going to try again!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Oh I hope you do try it again 🙂 You can absolutely do it!! Happy baking!

  21. Jamie on March 1, 2018 at 10:26 am

    So, so excited about this! I have to make a semi-naked cake (or scantily clad as my friend calls it LOL) for a bridal shower in April! Will have to use your tips. Your cake is a beauty!!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Hahaha scantily clad cake

  22. Feirouz on March 1, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Hello Sally
    I would like to tell you firstly I am a huge huge fan.. I am a baking addict and your recipes inspired me and my baking blog!

    I would like to clarify the following with you, you advised in the recipe to use 4 9 inch pans however I can see only 3 layers on the pictures and video, so would it be only 3 pans then? Will the batter quantity be OK?
    Thanks again from a French fan living in the UAE!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 11:12 am

      Hi Feirouz! What I mean is that this vanilla cake recipe is the same exact recipe as my 4 layer checkerboard cake and that you can make the cake as 4 layers. The bake time will be shorter.

      • Feirouz on March 1, 2018 at 2:07 pm

        Ooh fine my bad! I guess I misread the article which I usually read very carefully! Thanks for the reply

  23. Austria Azaceta on March 1, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Sally!
    This cake is SO beautiful & I’m so excited to make one myself!! I love how simple (yet so elegant!) it is.  And your photos are just incredible!! That first one should just be framed & hung up somewhere!  
    Gonna make the new blueberry muffin cookies tomorrow & I cannot wait to eat them! 
    Thank you for this awesome blog!! 

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:04 pm

      Thank you so much! Hope you love the blueberry muffin cookies 🙂

  24. Sally on March 1, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    I am totally making this for my friend’s wedding shower. The theme is rustic with green, pink, purple, and gold. It fits perfectly!! You’re recipes are the best!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      How pretty!! Let me know how it turns out 🙂

  25. Nuria on March 1, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    I LOVE your recipes and I love that you always include measurements in grams, I’m an OCD weigher when baking. 
    Looking forward to this challenge.

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      Thank you so much! Happy baking 🙂

  26. Jenny from on March 1, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    So I made your banana layer cake a few days ago and wrapped each layer carefully in plastic wrap. The cake layers are sitting in my freezer as I have company coming over on Saturday and I wanted to do the frosting shortly before serving. Guess what, now I want to make it a semi-naked cake and I am already so excited!

  27. Melissa Howell on March 1, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Sally, your pictures here are just stunning! This cake is like a work of art! Almost too pretty to eat! It’s like on The Great British Baking Show where the judges cut into the bakers’ masterpieces and I cringe because they’ve just destroyed them!

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      So sweet Melissa! Thank you 🙂

  28. Laura | Tutti Dolci on March 1, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    So gorgeous, Sally! I’ve always wanted to make a naked cake and you’ve definitely inspired me – love the video too! 🙂

    • Sally on March 1, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      Thank you Laura!!

  29. Savilla on March 1, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    Hi, Sally! I’m making this cake as a smash cake for a one year old photo shoot. Using 6 inch pans instead of nine. I’m sure there will be plenty of batter, but you said these layers are taller. Should I just fill pans halfway? Thank you!

    • Sally on March 2, 2018 at 6:24 am

      Yes, I would fill them halfway. 🙂

  30. Tonyia on March 1, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Can I make a caramel semi naked cake and still be eligible to enter? ☺️

    • Sally on March 2, 2018 at 6:22 am

      Sure can!


  1. Nancy on May 10, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Absolutely loved these recipes. I had never made a cake like this before but, I made it for my daughter’s bridal shower this past weekend. Actually, I made it three times as it was a 10 layer tiered cake! Everything came out perfectly and tasted delicious. Everyone was delighted and were amazed it didn’t come from a bakery. I wish I could show you a picture! Thank you so much Sally for the perfect recipes and handy video.

    • Sally on May 11, 2018 at 9:35 am

      Hi Nancy! A 10 tier cake is incredible and I bet it was stunning. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review on the vanilla naked cake! You can always email me a picture at [email protected] 🙂 I’d love to see!

  2. Mikayla on July 12, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    I love this recipe! I’ve just recently started taking cake orders from people and this is the recipe I keep coming back to. Whether doing a naked cake or a fully frosted cake, I use it for all the vanilla cakes I make. It’s sturdy and dense enough to hold my stacked layers, but its not dry. I’ve made enough of Sally’s recipes to know they are all so good. She’s my go-to!

    • Sally on July 12, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      This has become my go-to cake as well. 🙂 Thank you so much for the recipe review!


  1. Hazel on April 30, 2018 at 2:31 am

    Hi Sally! Do you think I could make a two-layer cake instead? If so, how do I change the recipe?

    • Sally on April 30, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      You would need to use 2/3 of the recipe so I would recommend either making cupcakes with the remaining batter or baking and freezing the third layer to enjoy later!

  2. Deanna Smith on May 2, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    How long does the buttermilk have to sit to reach room temperature? I have a very sensitive stomach, so leaving milk of any kind out concerns me.

    • Sally on May 3, 2018 at 6:50 am

      I leave the cold ingredients out for 1 hour before beginning.

  3. Abbie on May 4, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Sally! Could I bake this in 2 9″ pans and then torte the cakes?

    • Sally on May 7, 2018 at 10:15 am

      Hi Abbie! Only if your 9-inch cake pans are very tall. This is a lot of cake batter.

  4. Kaelin on May 9, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    Would this recipe make cupcakes okay?

    • Sally on May 9, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      This cake batter can be divided up to make cupcakes, yes! Same oven temperature and about 18-21 minutes bake time.

  5. Sue on May 16, 2018 at 4:56 am

    Can you substitute with gluten free flour?

    • Sally on May 16, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      I have not tried it but let me know if you do!

    • Kae on June 18, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      DId you try? I have a gluten allergy and I’m tentative to try.

  6. Katherine on May 16, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    If I only have 8 inch round pans, how long do you suggest I bake this recipe for? I have 4 or more 8 inch rounds if splitting the batter more ways is optimal. Thank you. Every recipe I’ve ever tried from your site over the several years I’ve been following you has been amazing!

    • Sally on May 17, 2018 at 6:24 am

      Hi Katherine! You can split the batter between 3 or 4 8-inch cake pans, though I suggest using 4 because the layers will be quite thick if using only 3. I’m unsure of the exact bake time, but you can use a toothpick to test.

  7. Barb on May 16, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I have to make my cake serve 20 people..any suggestions?

    • Sally on May 17, 2018 at 6:22 am

      Hi Barb! I’m unsure. I’ve only baked and assembled the cake as pictured. How about 2 separate cakes or a tiered cake of sorts? You can make the batter twice and bake in different size cake pans to create a tiered cake. The bake time will need to adjust if using different size pans.

  8. Kathleen on May 17, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Sally,

    Can i use the pistachio cake recipe as one of the flavours of the cake?

    • Sally on May 18, 2018 at 9:33 am


  9. ellie on June 1, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    I was just wondering would you recommend this recipe to cover the cake with fondant?

    • Sally on June 4, 2018 at 9:56 am

      This cake holds up very well under fondant, yes.

  10. Amy on June 4, 2018 at 9:33 am

    Hi Sally,

    Thank you for another great recipe! I am wondering how many you estimate this will feed? I am making it for my friends baby shower and there will probably be 25 people to feed.

    Thanks again!

    • Sally on June 4, 2018 at 9:57 am

      Hi Amy! About 12 generous slices, but if you slice it small and thin, you could feed up to 25.

  11. Shan on June 9, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    hi Sally I’m thinking of using this recipe to make a cake for my friend’s birthday next week but I was hoping to make it matcha flavored. if I would like to add roughly 2-3 tablespoons of matcha powder in, should I just take out 2-3 tablespoons of flour accordingly? and which frosting recipe would last out the longest in a really humid climate? thanks so much in advance sally!

    • Sally on June 11, 2018 at 6:08 am

      Hi Shan! Subbing matcha for flour would be my suggestion, but I have never tried it before so I can’t say with 100% certainty. This vanilla buttercream should hold up pretty well.

  12. Jazmin R. on July 3, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Hi Sally,

    My question is How long would the bake time for this vanilla cake recipe be using a
    6in x 2in round cake pan?

    Thank You

    • Sally on July 5, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Hi Jazmin! I’m not exactly sure, but somewhere around 20 minutes. Keep your eye on it and use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  13. Lori on July 4, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Sally, you said the cakes might be a bit thick if they are divided between 3×8” tins, I didn’t find this at all, in fact I was a bit disappointed, they didn’t seem to rise, any suggestions, thanks

    • Sally on July 5, 2018 at 10:55 am

      Hi Lori! Did you make the batter as written? I’m surprised the cakes didn’t rise with all that baking powder and soda. Overmixing produces flat and dense cakes, I wonder if that was the issue?

  14. Jess on July 23, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Hi Sally,

    Have you made this with 6” cake pans? If so, how much batter would you do for each pan? Also, how many cupcakes with this recipe make? Thank you!


  15. Marie on July 27, 2018 at 1:34 am

    Hi Sally,
    So I’ve been using a different recipe for my vanilla cakes for a while but I’m a bit bored with it. Want to change it up. Im going to give yours a try this weekend. In the past I’ve always taken my cakes directly out of the pan and wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer warm. I was told this will make them extra moist. I like the outcome And I like it that it allows me to bake them a few days in advance. I just take them out a few hours before I’m ready to decorate. I’m still a bit new to cake baking. Think I could do the same with these cakes?
    Thanks for your input 🙂

    • Sally on July 27, 2018 at 5:45 am

      I can’t see why not! And thank you for sharing because I’m looking forward to trying that trick too!

  16. Ashley on July 30, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Hey Sally,

    I just made this yesterday and the cake tasted great! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us.

    I have a question, as the frosting has a strange aftertaste. I’m not sure how to even explain it. I’m not sure if it’s metallic, but it’s more of a burnt/toasted flavor that follows the butter and sugar.

    I used:

    – Dairygold unsalted butter (thank you for not calling for shortening)
    – Lucerne heavy whipping cream (I still can’t find an explanation of the difference between heavy whipping cream and heavy cream, though there is plenty to read on the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream)
    – store brand powdered sugar
    – McCormick pure vanilla extract
    – Morton salt

    I don’t know that it’s too sweet. (I don’t know if there is such a thing for my palate!) The husband didn’t seem to think it tasted weird. He said it tasted rich, which I would imagine it to be with all the butter and sugar.

    Could it be that I’m pregnant? Haha. I want to make this for my shower and am unsure about the frosting.

    Could I have used too much vanilla? Does old powdered sugar do this?

    Please help! Thank you!

    • Sally on August 1, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      Hi Ashley, All of your ingredients sound right! The metallic taste could definitely be from being pregnant (Google it – you will see it’s fairly common!) but discuss with your doctor if it’s unbearable!

      • Ashley on August 1, 2018 at 3:59 pm

        Thank you so much, Sally!

  17. Mica on July 31, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Sally! This recipe was a salvation to my three tier cake, and i havent even tried it. What im worried about is that i cant put more than one pan at a time, does the batter hold up well or should i refrigerate it in between?

    • Sally on August 1, 2018 at 9:48 am

      Hi Mica! I recommend covering the remaining cake batter and leaving at room temperature until ready to bake.

  18. Joanna on August 3, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Hi Sally!

    This will be my first time making a cake.
    I was wondering if I want to prepare this a day in advance, after I’m done frosting it, do I have to fridge the whole cake overnight or put it in the freezer? Not sure how to store the cake properly to keep it from drying out! Thank you in advance for the advice!

    • Sally on August 6, 2018 at 11:23 am

      Hi Joanna! Made 1 day in advance, this cake can be covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator.

      • Joanna Kim on August 6, 2018 at 11:33 am

        Will the frosting come off if I cover it with a plastic wrap?

  19. Becka on August 5, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    Yum! I am going to try this. Any thoughts on adding lavender to the cake and honey to the buttercream?

    • Sally on August 6, 2018 at 9:28 am

      Hi Becka! I haven’t tested the recipe with either addition, but let me know how it goes!

  20. Alexis Barnes on August 7, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Hiya.. Can I use Swiss meringue buttercream or is it not stable enough?

    • Sally on August 7, 2018 at 11:42 am

      Yes, absolutely!

  21. P.A on August 20, 2018 at 5:31 am

    Hi Sally,

    amazing recipe I practiced this recipe for my Aunties anniversary, still need to do more practicing however.

    I just wanted to ask how you got the white icing? My icing always ends up a shade of yellow, is it the type of butter you used?

    Also what are the stems with the of white flowers called?

    Thank you!

  22. Mary on August 22, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Sally! Thank you for sharing this great recipe! Have you tried using cake flour instead of All purpose flour what is the diff? Thank you

    • Sally on August 23, 2018 at 7:33 am

      Hi Mary! Cake flour is a wonderful choice when making soft and fluffy cakes. (Here are all of my recipes using cake flour.) Sometimes you can get away with sifting all-purpose flour instead, but that depends on the recipe. It works just fine here!

  23. Kayley on August 28, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I am currently dairy free due to my breastfed daughter’s dairy intolerance. I really want to make this recipe. Do you think I could make it with a substitute milk and a dairy free margarine? If so, any suggestions?

    Thank you

    • Sally on August 29, 2018 at 9:05 am

      Hi Kayley! I wish I could help, but I have little experience with dairy free baking. I haven’t tested this recipe as such, but you can try nondairy milk mixed with a teaspoon of white vinegar and a vegan butter– I hear Earth Balance brand works wonderfully in cakes.

  24. Whitney on September 6, 2018 at 1:04 am

    Hey Sally, I want to make a copycatish Nothing Bundt Cakes white chocolate raspberry cake, but I can’t find a recipe for a from scratch white chocolate bundt cake. Do you think this batter would be ok if I added in white chocolate chips/chunks? And I don’t usually bake bundt cakes, so not really sure of the volume of batter I need. Do you think this would work? Thanks!

    • Sally on September 10, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Hi Whitney! I’m unsure off the top of my head if this batter is enough or too much for a standard bundt cake. I have a feeling it yields plenty though. You can definitely add some white chocolate chips/chunks though!

  25. Allison on September 7, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Sally,I’m excited to use this recipe for a bridal shower cake! It seems like a perfect moist yet stable cake. I plan on making a semi naked cake filled with strawberry and lemon swirled buttercream, topped with a white chocolate drip and decorated with fresh flowers. I am looking for height. If I use 8” pans am I better off baking three tall layers or four shorter layers? Which do you think would give me a taller cake? Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!

    • Sally on September 10, 2018 at 10:15 am

      Hey Allison! Your cake sounds like a dream. What incredible flavors! I bet it’ll be gorgeous, too. I recommend the 4 8-inch layers. They’ll bake more evenly and you’ll have more filling in the cake for height.

  26. Natalie on September 12, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Hi Sally,

    Can I use this recipe to make a tie dye cake? What food color brand would you recommend? Thanks!

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