Naked Birthday Cake


Total Time:

2 hours



Guess what today is??!? It’s my birthday! And I’m celebrating with a Naked Birthday Cake!

Naked Birthday Cake from (@whatsgabycookin)

Layers of cake, lemon curd, crushed meringues, swiss buttercream and sparklers. Boom. What more could you ask for? I’ve been dying to make a naked birthday cake forever – basically one that’s barely frosted on the outside so you can see all those glorious layers on the inside!! And because it needs to be bright and cheerful (just like me) we threw on a bunch of pink and yellow candies and flowers PLUS some sparklers on top. Because it’s not a birthday without sparkles and a billion calories! If you need me I’ll be taking a fork to this cake and hanging out because calories don’t count on your big day!

Naked Birthday Cake

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 2 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


For the cake layers:

  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter room temp
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk

For the Swiss Buttercream:

  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 9 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ¼ pounds butter room temp, cut into small pieces

For frosting layers

  • Lemon curd
  • crumbled meringue cookies

Optional toppings

  • Sparkler Candles
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Flowers
  • Meringue cookies


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 9-inch cake pans.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together for 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, Beat in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add half the flour mixture. Add 1 cup of buttermilk and mix until combined. add remaining flour mixture and beat. Add remaining buttermilk and beat. Remove from the mixer and finish mixing by hand if needed. Divide the batter amongst the 3 prepped cake pans.
  • Bake until golden brown and done, about 30-35 minutes. Let cakes cool for a few minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a standing mixer's bowl above the water. Whisk the sugar, the egg whites, lemon juice, and salt in the bowl by hand. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the bowl to a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until they almost hold a stiff peak and are fully cooled, about 10 minutes. Beat in the butter, a little at a time, until the icing is smooth and spreadable.
  • To assemble the cake, place one layer of the cake on a cake stand. Spread 3 tablespoons of lemon curd on top of the cake and sprinkle with some of the crushed meringue cookies. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of the Swiss Buttercream on top and carefully place the 2nd layer of cake on top. Repeat the process with additional lemon curd, sprinkled meringues and more Swiss Buttercream. Add the last layer of cake of top. Frost the top of the cake with more of the Swiss Buttercream and add a super thin layer of the Swiss Buttercream to the sides of the cake. Frost until smooth. Decorate with any desired toppings and serve as needed.

Photo by Matt Armendariz / Food Styling by Adam Pearson / Recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking

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Recipe Rating


  1. naomi

    Oh, happy birthday, Gaby!!! Yay, to month-long bday celebrations, right?! Love the cake!

  2. Rosemary

    Happy Birthday Gaby from Arizona!

    Hope you enjoy your day and that wonderful Birthday cake.


  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    Happy Birthday and I hope you have a wonderful day, year, and lots of cake (and drinks!) are in store 🙂

  4. Karalyn

    Happy Birthday. I’m a June girl too. This cake sounds marvelous. I’ll have to try it too.


  5. Heather Christo

    just so beautiful!!! happiest birthday wishes darling girl!

  6. Helen Kennedy

    Penblwyd Hapus! Happy Birthday! Have a fabulous day.

  7. June @ How to Philosophize with Cake

    Looks gorgeous! Naked cakes are the best 🙂 Perfect for a birthday!

  8. Sandra Sue Knight

    Love you recipes. Hope you have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY !

  9. Sandra Sue Knight

    Love your recipes. I hope you have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY !

  10. Julie @ Table for Two

    Beyond gorgeous cake, Gaby! Hope you had a wonderful birthday!!! xoxo

  11. Lauren Gaskill | Making Life Sweet

    What a beautiful cake! Happy belated birthday to you!! 🙂

  12. Mary (The Godmother @ Goodie Godmother)

    Happy birthday! I adore the sparklers and pink… so cute!

  13. Megan @ A Dash of Megnut

    This is absolutely gorgeous! I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

  14. Cara’s Healthy Cravings

    This is stunning! Birthday cakes are the best and I love the lemony flair to this one.
    p.s. in the recipe you wrote lemon curb, instead of curd. No biggie, but I would want someone to tell me if it were my recipe 🙂

  15. Danielle @ So Munch Love

    And a very happy birthday to you! I love, love the idea of this cake. I am always trying to find new tricks to making a less sweet frosting, when really what I want is less frosting! It’s just too sweet. This cake is gorgeous despite the fact that it isn’t covered in mountains of frosting. Awesome!

  16. Kathleen @ Yummy Crumble

    This is beautiful. The sparklers are the perfect touch! Happy Birthday!

  17. Shem

    Happy Birthday! The sparklers are a true show-stopper atop this beautiful cake!

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  20. Sandy

    So I’ve never made this intricate of a cake before. Is it really 1 1/4 pounds of butter for the frosting? That just seems like so much. Maybe I just haven’t made frosting in awhile.

  21. Slutty Brownie Cake (Triple Layered!) – What's Gaby Cooking

    […] excited with the idea and ran with it. I took my favorite layer cake recipe (the one we used for my birthday cake a few months back) and divided it into 3 bowls and then flavored each bowl to be reminiscent of […]

    • Gaby

      you could make the layers ahead of time – wrap them up each very tightly – and then freeze. and then take out, thaw and assemble the day of!

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  23. Sandra

    I love your beautiful, refreshing cake……. where can I purchase the sparkler candles?

    • Sandra

      Like a Hobby Lobby? I was hoping to odor over the internet…. we live a distance from a large city. But Thanks I will look into it..

  24. Jerry

    What a great Cake recipe. This is must for Mother’s Day Gifts. I like and appreciate this.

  25. Laura

    Hi Gaby, love your idea! Going to make this for my Mum’s birthday! Did you use real flowers on top?

    • Gaby

      yes!! any of your favorite flowers- just take them off before eating unless they are of the edible flower variety!

    • Laura

      Thanks 🙂 can’t wait to give it a go!

  26. Jess

    Do u cut the tops of the cake layers before layering? Not mentioned in the recipe.

    • Gaby

      no – we didn’t as they baked straight across – but you certainly can if it baked into more of a dome shape!

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  28. natalie

    can the cake be left out with this type of frosting? or rather how long could this be left out thanks

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  30. Aledia Jones White

    My granddaughter wants this cake but i don’t know what lemon curd is.

    • Aledia Jones White

      One more thing, do you make the meringue cookies ahead of time or do you buy them somewhere?

    • Helen Kennedy

      Lemon juice and rind cooked with egg yolks and sugar to make a soft paste. It’s easy to make, there are probably lots of recipes on line. A good one is tangy and not too sweet.

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  35. Grace

    I’ve tried so many times to make a naked cake, but I always end up covering it up with frosting as I don’t like how messy/crumbly the sides look. What’s your secrey for perfect cake sides that are worth it to be left out like your beautiful semi naked cake? Thanks Gaby!

  36. Nia

    Hi! I think I read that you used real flowers. What did you do about the pesticides or were they organic flowers? I am baking a cake that will be topped with flowers as well but can not find edible or organic. Did you just wash them off before putting them on top of the cake?
    Very beautiful cake!

  37. Pam

    In your cake recipes are you using regular butter versus unsalted? I see salt in your ingredients list and just want to make sure that I should use salted butter? Will be making your Slutty Brownie Cake tomorrow and just wanted clarification.

    Thank you

  38. Lauren

    I just made the cake, and the texture is perfect but it tastes a little like corn bread. I’ve had this happen before with homemade yellow cakes. Any ideas what I should do differently next time?