This Piping Technique Turns Chocolate Cake Into A Tree Stump Masterpiece

Blurring the lines between reality and illusion, some talented pastry chefs are able to create intricate edible masterpieces that almost perfectly resemble ordinary objects. While some might say that the realistic cake trend has gone a little too far in recent years, it's hard to imagine anyone could have a disparaging word to say about tree stump cake.

A decadent play on a giant Swiss roll, tree stump cake is crafted with layers of rolled, chocolate sponge cake separated by rich chocolate ganache or buttercream, and is typically decorated to look like tree stump with the addition of chocolate bark, and edible add-ons like meringue mushrooms and frosted cranberries. For an even creamier final product, some bakers prefer to forego the candy bark in favor of a bark design made from piped buttercream frosting.

Not only does the addition of buttercream lend to the decadent chocolate flavor and rich texture of the cake, but it can also create a stunning visual that is sure to make you this year's holiday dinner winner. But In order to create the illusion of neat – but textured – bark on your tree stump cake, Valentina, creator of Valya's Taste of Home, says that you're going to need a Wilton 1m piping tube attachment and a solid piping technique.

Cake decorating success is all about technique

Transforming a massive cake roll into an enchanted tree stump with nothing more than a bag of chocolate buttercream may sound like it requires some serious baking chops. But with a Wilton 1m attachment on your piping tube, it's not quite as difficult to achieve as one might think.  

To begin, Valentina recommends scattering rosettes at random across the cake roll, which will work to create the illusion of burls, otherwise known as tree knots. Buttercream is considered the best frosting to use for piping because the smooth texture makes the piping bag easier to maneuver. With the help of the wide-mouth Wilton tip, it becomes easy to create swooping, buttercream rosettes with a few quick flicks of the wrist. 

Because the Wilton 1m attachment also has a distinct star shape, the serrated metal edges create deep ridges in the frosting as it is squeezed from the piping bag, giving it a distinctly bark-like texture. Working from the bottom and moving steadily towards the top of the cake, simply fill the space between the rosettes with uniform, vertical strips of buttercream. Once the outer edges of the cake are completely covered in textured rows of chocolate buttercream, the only thing left to do is add decorations — edible or otherwise — and wait for the fairies to move in.