Tree Trunk Cake

It’s my 43rd birthday, and as always, I’ve baked my own cake. I love the woods, so I decided to make an orange almond honey cake and decorate it like a tree trunk. It was actually much easier than I expected because my main tool was a small offset spatula, which worked really well for the bark and tree ring details. I did pipe some ferns and mushrooms as well, and I’d intended to make a little hedgehog to sit on the top, but I ran out of frosting. Maybe next time.

Fair warning: this cake is in no way, shape, or form low calorie, low fat, or remotely healthy. All told, the cake and its frosting include six eggs and five sticks of butter. Granted, I’m not eating the entire cake myself, but if you’re the dieting type, I’d say this may not be the treat for you.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 1/2 oranges

For the frosting

  • 1 1/2 (2 1/2 sticks) cups butter, softened
  • 5 – 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons honey, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Lightly grease two deep, 7-inch round cake tins and line the bases with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add honey and blend to combine, then add eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl between each addition. Add self-rising flour and almond flour, then milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract, and beat to combine until you have a smooth batter.

Pour batter into prepared tins and bake for 40-45 minutes, until well risen and the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add 5 cups powdered sugar and beat on low speed until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter. Add honey and extracts and beat to combine, then add enough additional powdered sugar to make a medium-stiff consistency frosting.

To decorate: Divide frosting into one larger portion and two smaller portions. Tint largest portion dark brown and cover the sides of the cake with it, then use a small offset spatula to pull frosting upward to make bark ridges, reserving a small amount to swirl into the top of the cake. Tint one of the smaller portions light brown and frost top, using your spatula to make tree rings. Add small portions of darker brown and swirl to accent the rings. Reserve remaining light brown for mushrooms.

To make the ferns, tint one portion of frosting moss green. Fit a piping bag with a plain tip and pipe stems, the switch to a leaf tip and pipe leaf shapes. Tint remaining frosting darker for a second color and repeat.

To make the mushrooms, fit a piping bag with a petal tip and fill with remaining light brown frosting. Pipe stacked horizontal ribbon-like rows on waxed paper squares on a flower nail and chill for about 5 minutes, then press into the sides of the cake. Add a few leaves of fern-like foliage onto the tops.

Store cake at room temperature; makes about 12 servings.