This weekend I made a woodland theme cake and cupcakes for a baby shower! My friend's nursery adventure/woodland theme is going to be so cute! I was really nervous to make this cake because I haven't ever made a big cake for a public gathering, but after scouring tons of pictures on Pinterest I finally settled on a design that I was pretty sure I could replicate! Since I haven't made fondant before, I knew that I didn't want to go that route even though there are tons of cute ideas that incorporate fondant! Because I don't know when I'll do a big baking job like this again I made sure to take lots of pics! :)
I used box cake mixes (cheating, I know!) but used Rachel Ray's tips for making box cakes better! Sub out the vegetable oil for melted butter. In chocolate cakes use hot water and add 2 extra egg yolks. For white cakes sub out the water for milk and use egg whites - my box mix already instructed me to only use egg whites. Normally if you use egg whites instead of a whole egg you would need to incorporate some extra fat into the recipe to replace the fat that's in the yolk.
I made butter cream frosting and tinted it brown for the outsides and top of the cakes, the frosting between the layers I just left white (used less colorant that way!). THIS recipe for butter cream is my favorite! I have made it with cream cheese and without! It pipes perfectly onto cupcakes as well. To make the rings I tinted the frosting three shades of brown and piped it directly on the top of cakes and stuck it back in the fridge to chill. After the frosting was cold I was able to shave off a little bit of the top of the frosting to make the rings look more smooth. The tree bark was really easy to make. After melting candy melts you spread the melted chocolate onto parchment paper and then place another piece of parchment paper on top and smooth it all out. Then roll up the parchment paper layers and put it in the fridge to cool. After the chocolate has hardened, when the parchment paper is unrolled the chocolate will crack and form what looks like tree bark! Sugar Hero blog has a great tutorial!
The 'Welcome Baby' banner was made out of scrapbook paper, letter stickers, and basic hemp twine that I tied onto actual tree branches. (I first cleaned and cut off the outer layer of bark since I would be sticking it into the cake) I made the little toadstool mushrooms out of mini mushrooms and icing dotted cherry sours candies that I cut the bottoms off of (I definitely ate all the halves I cut off..ha ha!) It was perfect timing that the shower took place in December because I was able to use mini Christmas trees and little animal figurines from the holiday decor section at Joann's! The wooden arrows are also from Joann's. The moss is crushed up Graham crackers with green food coloring! So easy!