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Apple And Olive Oil Semi-Naked Cake With Maple Frosting

A quintessential autumn dessert; an apple and olive oil semi-naked cake with creamy maple frosting. This is a new fall favorite I recently developed and I’ll be making this throughout the season. This lovely cake highlights seasonal flavors we’ve all come to adore: apples, cinnamon, and maple. The twist is Extra Virgin olive oil, which makes this cake rich in flavor with moist layers. Topped with a simple semi-naked frosting, almost anyone can master, this cake is the cake of the season.

apple and olive oil cake

What Are Naked Cakes

There are actually two types of naked cakes. This apple and olive oil cake is cake is a “semi-naked, cake, also known as a “nearly-nude“, or “half-dressed” cake. A semi-naked cake has a minimal amount of frosting around the sides. In culinary terms, this means a semi-naked cake is a crumb-coated cake. A “crumb coat” is a thin layer of frosting that bakers apply to a layer cake before the final frosting. The crumb coat keeps stray crumbs from coming loose during the decorating process.  In contrast, a “naked cake” is a cake where the sides of the cake are completely bare of any frosting. And that’s why it’s “naked” because the crumbs are exposed.

apple and olive oil cake

The History of Naked Cakes

Naked cakes are everywhere after exploding onto the culinary scene in 2014.  Christina Tosi, the chef, founder, and owner of Milk Bar, began selling naked cakes for $400 apiece. Tosi believed that the most exciting, texturally, interesting parts of the cake were the layers-and she didn’t understand why bakers chose to hide them.

The biggest complaint about naked cakes is dryness. Without frosting to seal in the moisture, cake layers can often dry out too quickly. But this apple cake is different, the addition of olive oil in this cake makes the frosting, less essential. A semi-naked style cake is also a bit less likely to dry out, compared to a fully naked cake, since there is a little bit of frosting holding in the moisture. Some critics say this style of cake appears “unfinished“, but I totally disagree and welcome their simplicity.

apple and olive oil cake

Baking With Olive Oil

Olive oil is really the secret ingredient in my apple cake and what creates moist, tender, flavorful layers. What many home bakers don’t know, is that olive oil can be used in place of many traditional cooking oils. You can easily swap out the same amount of vegetable or canola oil for Extra Virgin olive oil without issue. In terms of the best Extra Virgin olive oil to use, you want a mild, buttery olive oil with low bitterness and fruity notes.

You can also use mild olive oil instead of butter in most baking recipes. Typically this works best if the recipe calls for melted butter. For baked goods, one should just use slightly less olive oil than better. Meaning, that three parts olive oil to four parts butter is the general rule of thumb. In cake baking, butter can be aerated with sugar to create air bubbles which gives the cake lift. Olive oil does not do that. Instead, the lift comes from leavening agents (baking powder and baking soda) and whipped egg whites, as is the case in this recipe. Another olive oil-based cake I adore is one I make in cupcake and cake form often.

apple and olive oil cake

If you’re not yet a naked cake fan yet, I urge you to reconsider. There are actually several advantages to it. For starters, this playful style has a rustic vibe that works well with casual gatherings. And, perhaps the best part, a naked cake prevents you from having a frosting disaster which, let’s be honest, we have all had at one point or another.

The truth is, sometimes simplicity is the easiest. And I know it may be a bit of a stretch to say it, but perhaps a naked cake is even a little healthier. I made this cake on the less sweet side generally, but less frosting will also lower the overall sweetness of the cake as a whole. So, the takeaway, if you’re the type who prefers the cake layers a little more than the sugary frosting (such as my husband), you’ve just found your ideal go-to cake.

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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