IN THE KITCHEN | NAKED CHRISTMAS CAKE

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After summer, December is easily my favorite time of year in the city. The streets are lined with twinkling lights and there’s an energetic buzz you can’t ignore. This time of year I’m prepping for the festivities, buying presents, picking out the perfect holiday dress, and looking forward to getting together with friends and family. If you’re anything like me and don’t like to arrive empty handed at parties, this cake is a (believe it or not) fairly easy option for wowing your host!

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| THE PREP WORK |  Full disclosure, I did not have the time (or desire) to bake my cakes from scratch, so I opted for a Betty Crocker French Vanilla box cake. My good, luckily, non-judgmental friends at Sur La Table recommended adding a little Vanilla Paste to make the cake taste more homemade. I think it’s important to point out I was a total rookie at this and was figuring it out as I went (thank God for Youtube instructional videos). Watch this video  here  to see the trick I learned to easily level the cakes. This is an important step in the layering process to ensure the cakes stack nicely, so I’ll leave the instruction up to the professionals. In a  8” Round Cake Pan  I was able to make two cakes per box, for a total of four layers.    | ASSEMBLY |  The Buttercream frosting was made from scratch and was super easy to make (score!), you can find the recipe I used  here . I started the process by spreading a little dollop on the wood to secure the cake from sliding, and then began stacking the layers. I purchased this  Wood Bark Charger  at World Market.  In-between each layer I spread about 1/4” Buttercream. If you like your cakes heavy on the frosting you could add 1/2”. Because this is a “naked” cake, with minimal frosting on the outside, the layers between the cake provide you with the balance between cake and icing, so feel free to add as little or as much as you’d like!  In the process I learned this cake is pretty forgiving to mistakes. If you didn’t get your cakes perfectly level when cutting the tops, the frosting can help make up for that. Get down at eye level and see if one side is looking a little lower than the other. If you want to get really precise you can even use a ruler. Simply add a little extra frosting where needed to restore balance for the next layer.

| THE PREP WORK |

Full disclosure, I did not have the time (or desire) to bake my cakes from scratch, so I opted for a Betty Crocker French Vanilla box cake. My good, luckily, non-judgmental friends at Sur La Table recommended adding a little Vanilla Paste to make the cake taste more homemade. I think it’s important to point out I was a total rookie at this and was figuring it out as I went (thank God for Youtube instructional videos). Watch this video here to see the trick I learned to easily level the cakes. This is an important step in the layering process to ensure the cakes stack nicely, so I’ll leave the instruction up to the professionals. In a 8” Round Cake Pan I was able to make two cakes per box, for a total of four layers.

| ASSEMBLY |

The Buttercream frosting was made from scratch and was super easy to make (score!), you can find the recipe I used here. I started the process by spreading a little dollop on the wood to secure the cake from sliding, and then began stacking the layers. I purchased this Wood Bark Charger at World Market.

In-between each layer I spread about 1/4” Buttercream. If you like your cakes heavy on the frosting you could add 1/2”. Because this is a “naked” cake, with minimal frosting on the outside, the layers between the cake provide you with the balance between cake and icing, so feel free to add as little or as much as you’d like!

In the process I learned this cake is pretty forgiving to mistakes. If you didn’t get your cakes perfectly level when cutting the tops, the frosting can help make up for that. Get down at eye level and see if one side is looking a little lower than the other. If you want to get really precise you can even use a ruler. Simply add a little extra frosting where needed to restore balance for the next layer.

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| NAKED FROSTING |  I purchased an  Icing Spatula  from Sur La Table and it made all the difference when spreading around the Buttercream. Once I had all four layers in place, the next step was filling in the “cracks” between the layers. This gave me a smoother foundation to work with, leading into the next step. Finally I used a  Dough Scraper  to smooth out the top and the sides the cake.  Pro tip: I used a Lazy Susan throughout this process. This allowed me to spin the cake effortlessly when working with the Buttercream.

| NAKED FROSTING |

I purchased an Icing Spatula from Sur La Table and it made all the difference when spreading around the Buttercream. Once I had all four layers in place, the next step was filling in the “cracks” between the layers. This gave me a smoother foundation to work with, leading into the next step. Finally I used a Dough Scraper to smooth out the top and the sides the cake.

Pro tip: I used a Lazy Susan throughout this process. This allowed me to spin the cake effortlessly when working with the Buttercream.

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The final touches.

At this point the cake could be totally customized for any holiday or event, depending on the decorations you choose. For a Christmas theme, I chose cranberries and spruce. To get the snowy affect, I lightly coated them in Corn Syrup and dusted them with sugar.

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To finish the cake off, I layered the spruce and cranberries around the base of the cake and in a crescent shape on the top, going for a more minimal look. You can use the Corn Syrup again to help hold the garnish in place. Continue to add until you’re satisfied and Voila! You have the perfect Christmas Holiday cake for all your get-togethers this December!

To finish the cake off, I layered the spruce and cranberries around the base of the cake and in a crescent shape on the top, going for a more minimal look. You can use the Corn Syrup again to help hold the garnish in place. Continue to add until you’re satisfied and Voila! You have the perfect Christmas Holiday cake for all your get-togethers this December!

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Happy Holidays,  Melissa

Happy Holidays,

Melissa