How to Make A Christmas Tree Cake
The Red Velvet Cake was baked in three 6-inch cake pans and two 4-inch cake pans. I carved one of the larger layers down to 5-inches in diameter and trimmed one of the smaller cakes to have a slight dome on top. After layering the cakes with a vanilla-almond whipped buttercream, I carved them down into a tall tree shape. With the cake scraps and some leftover icing, I formed a cake cone for the top of the tree.
Decorating the cake was super simple. I divided the remaining buttercream into three different shades of green buttercream, (this adds a little more texture and dimension). For the tree, simply fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip (I used Wilton 4B) and pipe shells around the tree. Start at the bottom and work your way around and up the tree. Add the various colors of buttercream to the piping bag at random for the free-flowing effect. Be sure to add the sprinkles as you go so that they stick to the buttercream before it begins to crust. And if all else fails, literally throw the sprinkles to the side of the cake (instead of from the top where they can sometimes bounce off everywhere). A simple fondant star made with a cookie cutter and some gold luster dust mixed with vanilla extra adorns the top.
For the Red Velvet Cake
2 ¼ cup cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 ½ sticks)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
red food coloring (optional)
¾ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 4-inch round cake pans and three 6-inch round cakes pans and set aside.
Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add in the cocoa, vanilla, red coloring, and eggs – one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients followed by the buttermilk and vinegar. Add the second half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 23 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
For the Whipped Vanilla-Almond Buttercream
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
Beat butter at medium-low speed of electric mixer until smooth and creamy (1 to 3 minutes.)
Gradually add 4 ½ cups powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, and almond extract with mixer at low speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Mix until blended.
Beat at medium-high speed 3 to 5 minutes, until buttercream is light and airy and nearly white. If needed, add the additional powered sugar or milk until desired consistency. Divide and tint with green gel food coloring.
See post above for assembly instructions.