I realise it’s a bit late in the game to be trying out my first ‘naked’ cake, but better late than never, eh?
Ever since I first saw naked cakes I’ve been looking for an opportunity to make one. The only reason I haven’t up till now is that, frankly, my family would rather have a cake slathered in icing, than one where the icing’s scraped off! Hmm, good point!
I knew I was going to have to win them over, so I thought little mini layer cakes (i.e. a small amount of cake with a decent amount of icing inbetween each layer) might be a good compromise.
I chose this lovely Banana & Coconut Cake with cream cheese icing recipe from Food To Love.co.nz. But, instead of making one large cake as per the recipe, I made a sheet cake in a large shallow baking tray, then cut out multiple layers (21, to be exact) using a cookie cutter.
The result was spectacular, if I do say so myself. A soft, tender sponge (which I adapted to gluten-free) perfectly flavoured with banana and coconut and sandwiched with cream cheese icing – oooooh yeah baby!
The idea was to top the cakes with big fancy frosting swirls, but I ran out of icing so was forced to raid the garden for some flowers. Being late Autumn, all that was left were a few small white carpet roses – as it happens, they were kind of perfect. Of course, if you’d rather ditch the flowers and have a great whack of icing on top (can’t say I blame you), I’d suggest you increase the frosting by half. Enjoy!
- 150g (5.2 oz) butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 ripe medium bananas, mashed
- 1/2 cup light sour cream (I used full fat sour cream)
- 2 cups self-raising flour, sieved (I used 2 cups gluten-free flour blend, plus 2 teaspoons baking powder)
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
- 125g (4.4 oz) butter, at room temperature
- 250g (8.8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), sieved
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence (I used 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract paste), to taste
- 2/3 cup shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Grease and line sheet tin - I used a 43 x 28cm (17 x 11 inch pan) - with baking paper.
- Beat butter and sugars with electric beaters in large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with addition. Add vanilla extract, mashed bananas and sour cream; beat to combine. Beat flour and coconut into mixture until well combined.
- Pour mix into lined sheet pan, level it with a spatula, and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool slightly in tin, then turn onto wire rack. Peel off baking paper and let it cool completely.
- Whip butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar, vanilla extract and coconut essence and beat for a further few minutes. Store in fridge until needed, but it will take it out to un-chill before using.
- Take a cookie cutter - I used a 7cm (2.7 inch) cutter - and stamp out your cake layers (I got 21 layers out of mine).
- Place about two thirds of the cream cheese icing into a piping bag with plain tip (or simply cut the tip off the bag itself). NB: Piping the icing makes it less likely you will pick up crumbs from the cake's surface. Put the remaining icing into a small bowl to use for icing the outside of the cakes.
- Place one cake layer onto your bench surface (or plate) and pipe some icing onto it (be fairly generous as given this is a semi-naked cake, most of the icing is inside rather than outside). Place the next layer on top and gently press down. Repeat with icing. Place third cake layer on top. Now, using a metal offset spatula, take some of the icing from the small bowl and slather on top of the cake and around the sides.
- Wipe the spatula clean and drag it around the cake to smooth the sides. Do the same for the top. Put the cake into the fridge for the icing to set while you repeat the process for the remaining cakes. If you find the icing getting too warm and difficult to use, put in the fridge until it firms up a little.
- Once the cakes have set in the fridge, you can dress them as you please. If you have any left over icing, you can pipe a nice rosette, or similar, on top. I had no icing left over, so dressed with unsprayed roses from the garden.
To ripen bananas quickly, place in a brown paper bag in a warmish place until brown.
To give the cake a nutty flavor, fold 1 cup of chopped pecans into the mix after adding the sour cream.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Combination of natural lighting and continuous fluorescent lighting softbox