Choice of cake is completely up to you; a couple of my favorite recipes can be found here (vanilla) and here (chocolate). Whichever flavor you choose, make sure you crumb coat well and apply a second layer of frosting after your crumb coat has set in the fridge for about 10 minutes. My favorite vanilla cream cheese buttercream recipe is a great option if you’re looking for a frosting recipe! Don’t stress too much getting it perfectly smooth; birch trees are never smooth anyway!
Supplies / Equipment:
- cake layers and frosting of your choice; ideally frosted on a cardboard cake circle
- Few drops of brown gel food color
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! I do HIGHLY recommend having a cake turntable for this cake style though; it’s very difficult to keep the lines even without one!
- Small offset spatula or the back side of a butter knife
- Small new or food-safe paintbrush
Tips for creating the Birch Tree texture:
- I find well-chilled cakes easiest to work with for this style – this keeps the buttercream from pulling and deforming too much as you add the lines!
- I left the top of the cake alone per request, but sarahhardymakes.com has a great tutorial on carving the top of the cake to look like a tree!
- Mix a couple of drops of brown gel food color with a couple tablespoons of vanilla extract (the alcohol helps the liquid evaporate more quickly).
- Pour your color onto something you can dip your knife or offset spatula into – I found this easiest to do on a small fairly-flat plate.
- This is the part where a turntable is particularly helpful! Turning your cake slowly, add a series of unevenly-spaced shorter and longer dashes with your spatula or knife. Make a few of them shallower and deeper for a more realistic texture. You can add ‘knots’ and larger dark spots as well! Continue texturing until you’re happy with the look of the cake!
- If you’d like to carve a name or initials into the side of the cake, you can use your spatula and/or a small knife to carve the buttercream down to the cake layers – a bit of brown food color can darken the carving as well.
And you’re done! Congratulations on your amazing cake! If you gave this technique a shot, let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!