Naked Lemon and Olive Oil Layer Cake

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naked lemon and olive oil layer cake recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

You saw one at your cousin’s wedding and assumed it was way too tough to make at home. But the naked cake trend (that’s a cake with only a tiny bit of frosting so you can still see the layers underneath) is actually really easy to pull off. Try making this naked lemon and olive oil layer cake for dessert and see for yourself.



3 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1½ cups granulated sugar

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1½ cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons lemon zest

¼ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

4½ cups sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup whole milk

Lemon zest, as needed for garnish

Berries, as needed for garnish


1. Make the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 6-inch cake pans.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar until pale yellow and thick, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add the olive oil, buttermilk, lemon zest, lemon extract (if using) and vanilla extract to the egg mixture and mix well to combine, 1 minute more.

5. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, 45 seconds to 1 minute.

6. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

7. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

8. Make the Frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter while gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time. Mix until light and fluffy.

9. Beat in the lemon zest, vanilla extract and milk. Mix well to combine.

10. Assemble the Cake: When the cakes are cool, use a serrated knife to cut the domed top off of each cake and then cut each cake into two layers. (You’ll have four layers total.)

11. Place one cake layer on a platter or cake stand and scoop 1 heaping cup of frosting on top of it. Using the spatula, spread the frosting into an even layer, all the way to the edge. Place another cake layer on top. Repeat until you’ve used all four cake layers.

12. Spread the remaining frosting in a thin coat on the top and side of the cake. Run your spatula around the edge of the cake to scrape away any excess frosting. (You should be able to clearly see the cake through the thin layer of frosting.)

13. Sprinkle with lemon zest and garnish with berries. Slice and serve the cake at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts
  • Cake

  • 484 calories

  • 24g fat

  • 61g carbs

  • 7g protein

  • 32g sugars

  • Frosting

  • 517 calories

  • 19g fat

  • 91g carbs

  • 0g protein

  • 90g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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