Merry Christmas! To celebrate the big day, I want to share a brand new recipe for a vanilla Christmas Tree Cake. The cake is very delicate and flavorful and is paired with a rich, creamy buttercream frosting. On top are three waffle cone Christmas trees covered in green frosting and a dusting of powdered sugar “snow”. This recipe is a bit more involved than some of my others, so be sure to read through the whole recipe before diving in.
In order to have the best quality baked goods, one needs to use high quality ingredients. This is especially true for the Christmas Tree Cake. Lately, I’ve been using King Arthur flour, which is a good brand, but I still much prefer local, organic flours whenever I can get my hands on them!
I also tend to be very fussy about the sourcing of my dairy products. Organic Valley is one brand I can always trust for their high quality, local foods. The organic cows get to spend time on pasture whenever weather allows and the farmers from the Organic Valley Co-op take such great care of their animals. Try using some of their butter or half and half in this recipe and see what a difference top-notch ingredients can make!
How do I make the Christmas Trees?
Making the trees on a Christmas Tree Cake is actually very simple. All you need are three waffle cones (or more if you prefer). Once the cake is frosted (see recipe below for directions), carefully break off pieces at the opening of each cone until it is your desired height. I chose to make one short one and two tall ones. Then arrange them on the cake and fill a piping bag fitted with Wilton Tip 18 with green frosting. Other small star and flower tips should work well too, so feel free to experiment with some different ones to find what you like best!
Starting at the bottom of each cone, pipe stars all over them. Sometimes it can be a little tricky to frost the trees if they are all on the cake at once. After you have the cones arranged where you want them, it might help to pick up each one to frost them that way. If you want to get extra fancy, add large sprinkles as ornaments. When the trees are all done, put some powdered sugar in a mesh strainer and sprinkle it over the top of the cake to look like snow!
Cake Decorating Tools
As I continue making more cakes, I always seem to be acquiring new tools and supplies. I’d like to share with you my favorite tools that I use and find most helpful. The links I’m posting here are not affiliated–just personal recommendations.
By far, my favorite cake tool is my 6-inch Ateco offset spatula. It’s extremely cute and so handy for all sorts of things during the cake decorating process. Plus I can use it throughout my kitchen for other uses too.
To get the sides of my cake perfectly smooth, I use an Ateco icing smoother. I hold it at a 45 degree angle against the cake. As I rotate the cake on my Wilton turn table, the smoother does the work to even out the frosting.
However, before we get to that step, it’s important to get an even layer of frosting all around the cake. Use Wilton tip 789 to pipe wide ribbons of frosting all the way around the circumference. You could also use the offset spatula to apply frosting, but it isn’t always as evenly distributed.
When the cake is almost perfectly smooth, I place a damp Viva paper towel on the cake and use a fondant smoother to iron it out. Although I don’t like Viva towels for everyday use, they are the only ones that work for cake frosting because they have no pattern. Hopefully this gives you some guidance if you’re looking for some good products to help you up your cake game! I also plan to put together a full frosting tutorial in the future!
More Cake Recipes to Try
I hope you enjoy this festive Christmas Tree Cake! If you give it a try, I’d love to hear about it in the comments and and see your creations on Instagram (tag @roots_and_rosemary). Here’s a list of some of my other cake recipes to try out as well. Merry Christmas!
- Chocolate Cappuccino Cake
- Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
- Coffee Infused Cake with Mocha Frosting
- Chai Tea Latte Cake
- Milk and Honey™ Chocolate Cupcakes
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake
Christmas Tree Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup corn starch
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp Celtic sea salt
- 4 oz white chocolate chips
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz Organic Valley salted butter (softened)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup aquafaba
- 240 g plain Greek yogurt (unsweetened)
- 12 oz Organic Valley salted butter (softened)
- 1035 g powdered sugar (plus extra for dusting)
- 5 Tbsp Organic Valley half and half
- 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Green food coloring
- 3 waffle cones
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, starch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Place the white chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl and pour the piping hot water over the top.
- Whisk until all the white chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and set aside.
- Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for about 30 seconds to make it extra creamy.
- On medium-high speed, gradually add the sugar. Beat for 4-6 minutes until light and fluffy. Periodically, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Gradually beat in the aquafaba, 3 tablespoons at a time.
- Decrease speed to low and add the chocolate mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
- Add ⅓ of the flour mixture. When it is mostly mixed in, add half of the Greek yogurt. Continue alternating with the flour and yogurt until it is all mixed into the batter.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl throughout the process. When all the ingredients are well-combined, but not over-mixed, evenly distribute the cakes between the prepared pans.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and when it comes out clean, they are done. Try not to open the oven more than you have to.
- When the cakes are removed from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans. I always recommend freezing cakes before frosting them. Wait until they are completely cool before wrapping each layer in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and sealing them in a freezer bag.
- Add the butter, sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract to a large stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Turn the mixer on low speed as the sugar gets worked into the butter. (If it starts too fast, sugar will be flying everywhere!)
- Gradually increase the speed as the sugar gets incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically.
- Beat until light and fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add more syrup or half and half. If it is too thin, add more sugar.
- After frosting the cake, set aside the remaining frosting and add green food coloring until it reaches your desired shade. This will be used to make the Christmas trees.
Decorating the Cake
- Remove the frozen layers from the freezer and unwrap. If they are uneven, use a sharp, serrated knife to level them. Place the bottom layer on a 10-inch cake board and set on a turn-table.
- Separate some of the frosting into a separate bowl for the crumb coat. Taking from this "dirty" bowl, place a dollop of frosting on the cake and smooth it around using a 6-inch offset spatula.
- Place the next layer on top and repeat the previous two steps with the remaining cake.
- Using the offset spatula and only taking from the dirty bowl, frost a thin layer of buttercream all around the cake. Get it as smooth as possible. If the frosting gets too cold from the frozen cake, dip your offset spatula in a bowl of hot water, wipe dry, and continue frosting. Hot tools can be incredibly helpful with a stiff buttercream.
- When the crumb coat is finished, place the cake in the refrigerator to set up for about 10 minutes.
- When the crumb coat is set, continue frosting the cake. Fit a piping bag with Wilton Cake Icer Decorating Tip 789. Using the flat edge, pipe ribbons of frosting all around the cake, starting at the bottom and working your way up.
- Hold an icing smoother at a 45° angle to the cake. Lightly hold in place on the frosting as you rotate the turn-table to smooth the frosting. Again, it may be helpful to heat up the smoother depending on how stiff the frosting is. Continue smoothing the cake until you are satisfied. If needed, fill in gaps or air pockets with the offset spatula.
- Place a dollop of frosting on the top of the cake and smooth with the offset spatula.
- To achieve a perfectly smooth cake, dampen a Viva paper towel (this is the only brand that works) and gently place it on the cake. Use a fondant smoother to "iron" out the frosting.
- Take the remaining frosting and add green food coloring until it is as dark as you would like.
- Put the green frosting in a piping bag fitted with Wilton Tip 18.
- Take a waffle cone and pipe stars of frosting all over it, staring from the bottom and working up. Place the cone on top of the cake. Repeat with the other two cones.
- When all the trees are set, put some powdered sugar in a fine mesh strainer and sift a dusting of powdered sugar over the cake.
- Transfer to a cake stand before serving. The cake should be stored in the refrigerator, but brought to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!