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I have eaten some home made cakes which never had any icings, they still tasted brilliant.
What are those cakes called which don't need an icing on them? I heard they are called "Sponge cakes". Is that correct?

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    This question is way too vague to allow for a meaningful answer. You need to describe exactly what the cake looked and tasted like, and maybe where you got it.
    – FuzzyChef
    Feb 13, 2012 at 3:38
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    Any cake that is sufficiently tasty and moist can do without icing - I've seen more good cakes ruined by too much icing than the other way around. I agree with @FuzzyChef, if you're looking a specific kind of cake we need more details. If you want to know what cakes don't have to be iced, the answer is 'any that doesn't need it'.
    – rfusca
    Feb 13, 2012 at 3:52
  • @FuzzyChef and rfusca, so they aren't called anything specially? Okay. Perhaps sponge cakes are something else? Close vote from me. Feb 13, 2012 at 11:08
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    @Caleb That isn't the question here. Feb 13, 2012 at 11:50
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    I find the question good enough to answer. While the English speakers here might find it self-explanatory that "a cake without the icing is a cake", other languages have different categorization of cakes, so somebody not familiar with English baking terms can easily assume that there should be such a word in English.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 13, 2012 at 12:34

4 Answers 4

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In English, all cakes are called just cake, no matter if iced or not. Sponge cake is a name for a cake made from a specific type of batter - it consists of one part fat, one part egg, one part sugar, and one part flour, made by foaming the fat and sugar (with creaming instead of foaming, a batter from the same proportions is called pound cake, at least if you follow the classification established by M. Ruhlmann). You can make other types of cake - angel food cake, chiffon, genoise, etc - and not add icing, they are differentiated by the type of batter only.

In other languages, there is a difference. In German, the ones without icing are called "Kuchen", and the ones with rich, decorated icing are called "Torte" (and usually seen as a subset of Kuchen"). But in German, a pie is also considered a type of "Kuchen", so this is more of an umbrella term, even though the standard thing someone pictures upon hearing the word "Kuchen" is some kind of iceless cake, usually on the lines of a marbled Gugglehupf. But in English, there is no special term for a cake without the icing.

In some sources, English speaking authors use a category for the opposite of what you are asking. However, it is not centered on the baking attributes of the cake, but rather on its purpose - I have seen authors create bookchapters called "celebration cakes", "wedding cakes", "birthday cakes" etc. It is implicit that they place the richly decorated cakes in these categories, while the plainer ones stay as "everyday cakes", in UK sources sometimes as "tea cakes" or even get no special name at all. In the end, the same cakes which fall on the "celebration" side in this categorization scheme tend to be the ones that are called "torte" in German.

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  • That's a very beautiful answer. I thought that was a stupid question. Feb 13, 2012 at 13:00
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    +1 for getting at the heart of the issue - terminology seems "obvious" to people who grew up with it, when it may not make any sense to someone who grew up with different terminology or categories for the same items.
    – Sam Ley
    Feb 13, 2012 at 18:25
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    As a native speaker of German I can't verify the fact that every cake with icing is a Torte but apart from that: good answer.
    – Umbranus
    Oct 10, 2016 at 14:00
  • Are you sure about the "creaming" bit? I thought pound cake was created by creaming butter and sugar to develop air pockets for leavening - sponge cake is created by whipping eggs to provide the leavening (it tends to produce bigger pockets of air, thus sponge cake is more airy and less dense than pound cake). This is mostly an American distinction I think - in the UK, it's mostly just "cake". Source: books.google.co.uk/… Jun 24, 2020 at 10:22
  • @DanGravell there is probably no single classification of cake names. The one I use is the one Ruhlmann suggests. I find it good because it makes a difference between a cake made with the muffin method and a cake made with the creaming method - they taste differently even though they have the same proportions (1:1:1:1). Egg leavened cakes usually have different names (e.g. a genoise) but they typically also have a different ratio of ingredients. I have never made a recipe which required the pound ratio, and prescribed separately whipped egg whites (or whole eggs) in addition to creaming.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 24, 2020 at 14:05
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It's called Cake

Cake with icing is called "iced cake". Iced cake is mostly a modern aberration, and a "normalisation of party food"*

* a common trend often linked to the expanding waistlines of today

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  • There is no special name for those which aren't supposed to be iced? Feb 13, 2012 at 11:09
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    Coffee cakes typically are non-iced as well as many bundt cakes which I suppose you could argue are one in the same. Pound cakes, Twinkies (which have the icing in the middle instead and are a form of sponge cake), fruit cakes etc etc etc. all void of icing yet with distinct names of their own. The list really could be quite long if we do enough research. Feb 15, 2012 at 2:21
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They are called "naked cakes".

For example, this article states

A naked cake is easily recognized by its absent or minimal outer layer of frosting, which shows off the cake’s natural texture and filling. Some naked cakes have zero frosting on their outer edge, while others have just a wisp of buttercream.

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In my house we call it "plain cake"

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