Hello everyone! I hope you all had an amazing holiday. Unfortunately, I was sick (for Christmas and New Years), so I’m not sure mine was quite as amazing as it could have been, but it was still great to spend lots of time with family. I got a few exciting baking-related presents this year; some fun muffin/cupcake cups, a heat sealer for my cookie packages, and a bright red plaid apron (I don’t normally wear aprons, but I keep getting flour and powdered sugar all over my clothing so I think it’s about time I start wearing one).
I did a huge amount of baking before the holidays, and I also successfully defended my thesis! Now I’m on the hunt for work, but hopefully I should also be back to more regular posting since I have a lot less going on in my life now that school is done.
One of my holiday bakes was a Christmas wreath cake, accompanied by some mini cupcakes. I’ve seen a few wreaths on Instagram and Pinterest, so I drew on those for inspiration in this cake. I started with a 6″ chocolate cake and an orange flavoured buttercream. I left the buttercream white, to provide a nice blank canvas for the wreath. I also added some raspberry pie filling in between the layers because it pairs well with the chocolate and the citrus in the buttercream.
I started with a #2 round tip and some icing that I dyed brown. I was going for something that looked like the branches of a fir, so I started with my stems in brown. I didn’t plan this out too much, I just tried to make sure that the branches were constrained to be in a rough “c” shape to leave room for my Christmas message (Merry Christmas). Because the cake was so small, I wanted to make sure that there was lots of room to write the room Christmas, so I chose a “c” shape instead of a full wreath around the entire cake. You’ll see later this was a smart choice, because even with the half-wreath I just barely fit the word ‘christmas’ onto this cake.
Once I was pretty happy with the basic shape of my branches, I started to add the green. Using the same tip, I just drew small lines along the stems of my branches, so each bit of green looked like a little needle. I tried to keep these pointed slightly toward the ends of the branches, as they would be in nature (see above). Once I finished one layer of green, I wasn’t entirely pleased with the look, so I added a second layer to give these branches a bit more volume, as you can see below (I also added a few more branches, as needed, to fill out the look):
You’ll notice that the brown is basically entirely hidden at this point, but I still think it’s very important to have it piped on before; it would be so difficult to pipe on the green right away and still get a nice look.
I let these set in the fridge for a few minutes while I got ready with my flowers. I pre-piped several flowers in advance so I was ready to just pop them on top of the cake. I used red and white for the flowers, and I also did some pine cones in the smame brown as the branches. I piped out some red poinsettias and some red roses, and in the white I added some white roses and something that looks a bit like a spiky carnation (I’ll admit, I’m actually not sure what this flower is, I just saw one done in buttercream and I really liked how it looked).
These flowers sat in my fridge and freezer until I was ready to pop them on the cake, so at this stage I took them out and started setting them on top of my fir branches. I didn’t want to cover too much of the green, because I liked the colour contrast (and also because the green took so long to pipe!), so I tried to keep the flowers and pine cones in a nice tight formation. I started by placing a rose in the gap between the two fir branches, and built up around that rose. Once I was pleased with the overall look, I added my Christmas message in green in the remaining white space (you can see that I struggled a little to fit the last two letters of ‘Christmas’ onto this cake):
To finish off, I thought that the white side of the cake looked a little empty, so I added on two extra flowers and a pine cone on the open side of the wreath at the base of the cake, and drew on two extra fir branches to match the colour scheme on the top of the cake:
If I were to do anything differently, I would choose a slightly smaller white flower for the side of the cake; it was a little too big, and covers the pine cone underneath. I was pretty pleased with how the pine cones turned out, so I would have liked to have a little more of it showing.
To add to this cake order, I also made some mini cupcakes and added two different Christmas-themed icings. In total I had a dozen cupcakes, six vanilla and six chocolate. There were also two icing flavours, orange and raspberry. I used a different icing style for each flavour to help distinguish between the two. For the orange, I piped a swirl with an open star tip, and used the leftover red and green icing from my cake to pipe on some tiny holly into the centre of each cupcake. For the raspberry icing, I chose a closed star tip, and I painted one red stripe and one green stripe up opposite sides of the bag with food colouring. I twisted the bag while puling the bag upwards to give the twisted look below.
I’m happy to say the cupcakes were a hit, and I look forward to making more holiday themed cakes in the future!