The Tool Christina Tosi Uses To Make Cake Decorating A Breeze - Exclusive

Pastry chef extraordinaire and Milk Bar founder-CEO Christina Tosi is famous for many dessert innovations, but one of her most iconic is the naked cake. Rather than covering her cakes in an outer coating of frosting, she leaves the sides bare, exposing the layers of delicious fillings so you know what's going on inside the cake. This is the approach she took with the Cheetos birthday cake she made for the brand's 75th anniversary — the naked sides allow you to see the violently orange Cheetos buttercream tucked between each layer of vanilla Funfetti-style cake.

As she told Mashed in an exclusive interview, Tosi employs a special piece of equipment to build perfect-looking naked cakes. "We use something called acetate, and it creates this flawless plastic collar of sorts, and you can reuse it over and over again to build cakes."

Tosi starts by using an acetate plastic sheet to make a clear cylinder, then lays in a circle of cake the same diameter as the acetate ring. The cake gets topped with whatever fillings you want (Tosi likes to use two fillings and something crunchy in between each piece of cake), and then another cake circle is placed on top. Repeat the process for more layers, then remove the acetate — and you have a naked cake with sharp, picture-perfect edges.

Other methods of creating naked cakes

You can buy a roll of food-grade acetate at a pretty cheap price online, but if you don't want to purchase a bunch of extra plastic for a project you're only going to do once, there are ways to get a similar effect with something you might already have on hand: a spring-form pan. Per Christina Tosi, "When you bake a cake, the easiest way to get it to look great is to build it in a spring-form pan that is wrapped in a little bit of Saran wrap."

You don't necessarily even need a ring-shaped mold if your frosting is the right consistency. Extra-thick frosting should have enough structural integrity to hold your cake together without acetate or a spring-form pan. The edges might not be as clean as if you did it with professional tools, but that doesn't really matter for a home bake. As Tosi emphasized, the naked cake decorating method is all about producing a nice-looking cake without worrying too much about the fussy little details. "There's something to be said about marching to the beat of your own drum, leaning into that playfully mischievous approach to making a great cake, and making it look just so," she said.

The Cheetos 75th birthday cake is available for purchase from the Milk Bar Store while supplies last.