Tree stump cakes are a recent cake trend. After seeing picture after picture of beautiful cakes, I decided I needed to join in the fun! After some research, I learned that most of what I saw involved liberal use of fondant to get the right look, but I don’t really like the taste of fondant and my first priority when making a cake is always taste – though aesthetics are also important! Luckily, I stumbled across a technique for getting the same stumpy look using pure chocolate. I just had to try it, of course!
I wanted to also use this opportunity to test some baking principles I’ve been developing. Making my own recipes instead of relying on other peoples’ is a goal of mine, so I’ve been doing a lot of research on what goes into making a cake recipe. That’s why most cake recipes look more or less the same – they have to stay close to the “cake formula”. I’ve added a couple pages on my website that contain everything I’ve learned so far. Take a look and learn along with me! There are two pages so far: this one details the process of making your own cake recipe, while this one contains general baking tips. And because I’m a data/math-y person, I also created a calculator that runs off of my current cake formula to tell you how many of each ingredient you need with just a few starting inputs. I tested the calculator by using it to create my tree stump cake and it worked out well!
To make the tree stump cake, you’ll need:
- 1 banana cake
- Chocolate ganache for filling and frosting
- Melted Chocolate to create the bark
- Crumbled cake and meringue mushrooms for decoration (optional)
12 Tbs butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 cups cake flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 bananas, mashed (letting them turn black will make them already mushy and sweet)
1 tablespoon vanilla
Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour into a large bowl and combine with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, vanilla, and mashed bananas. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to the mixer just until combined. Split batter between two 9” round pans and bake at 350℉ for about 30 mins.
4 Tbs Butter
1 Tbs rum
Melt chocolate in a bain-marie. In a saucepan, heat the cream on low until bubbly. Pour the cream over the chocolate one-third at a time until incorporated. Let cool before using. Whip the butter, chocolate mixture, and rum until smooth.
Follow directions from Natashas Kitchen.
- Fill and frost the two banana cake layers with the chocolate ganache.
- Use a toothpick to carve out “tree rings” on the top of the cake.
- To make the bark:
- Spread a thin layer about 5×27 inches of tempered chocolate on some parchment paper.
- Place another parchment sheet on top and roll it up. Wait five minutes to let the chocolate harden. Unroll, and stick the pieces of chocolate “bark” around the cake.
- Using a pastry brush, paint more chocolate on top to get a more textured look.
- Place cake on its final display plate
- Crumble up some extra cake, some cookies, or similar baked goods (I used more leftover frozen cake) to create dirt-texture. Spread the crumble around the cake. I also added some dried sage to the dirt for “moss”, but this is up to you!
- Place a few meringue mushrooms in the “dirt.”
- Complete with any other decorations you like. I added some birds!
And can you guess what this cake was for? Another first birthday celebration cake!
I was very happy with the way it ended up looking!
Also, YUM! It was very rich and chocolatey and not too sweet, just perfect. You’re probably going to want a glass of milk with this. And as someone at the party said “This is the best cake I’ve ever had,” so I’d call it a success 🙂
Your bonus Cream and Cocoa Picture: