Make Trees?

Decorating By johnbailey64 Updated 31 Oct 2013 , 10:03pm by lillymolly

johnbailey64 Posted 7 Oct 2013 , 10:03pm
post #1 of 33

I have an order for a cake - the concept is the 'camp' they own by a bayou - so it is going to be designed like the landscape. I need trees that are not to heavy, the cake will have an hour transport. I looked at model train trees, but they are too small.  I'm thinking 5 or 6 inch trees.

It will be some landscape, the dock and water, with a person fishing from the pier.

Help me brain storm. Only thing I can come up with so far is do my own paper mache tree. I want them kinda realistic.

32 replies
miniflowercake Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 12:25am
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How many tiers is it? Are the trees supposed to be standing on the top of the cake or can they be on the sides? If they could be on the side I would say use buttercream or fondant, or maybe just paint it on if it's a fondant covered cake. 

Carmen500 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 12:43am
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I have used ice cream cone piped with buttercream using a leaf tip. It is tall enough for a landscaped design.

BeesKnees578 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 1:08am
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Are you talking swampy trees, then, like the ones with the moss hanging down?  I think they're called live oaks?  I could be wrong on that.


Maybe you could post a pic of said tree (real life example) and we can brainstorm from that?


I have seen de-graped grape stems covered in chocolate on here....maybe you could pick off pieces of the stems and shape it into the shape and size that you want?

milkmaid42 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 1:27am
post #5 of 33

I was just  going to suggest the grape stem idea. This is a pic of a cake I made using grape stems which I dipped in chocolate and while wet, rolled in Rice Krispies that I dyed green.  You could even hang greyish-green extruded fondant to simulate Spanish Moss.

Emma couldn't decide which Disney princess was her favorite, so all were invited to the party at the pink castle. Since this is a friendly castle, there is no drawbridge over the piping gel moat--- rather, a welcome bridge.  The cake is WASC with strawberry buttercream, and strawberry MFF over white ganache. The towers are RKT topped with gumpaste slates. The trees and rosebushes are chocolate covered grape stems dipped into green rice krispies for leaves. Water lilies and roses are gumpaste, as is the birdbath filled with piping gel.  I had so much fun making this cake that I had to hold myself in check, not to over-do. The client provided the figurines.

I'm not pleased with this cake since the turrets look like ears, but at least you get the idea for the trees. (The rose bushes are made the same way.)



BeesKnees578 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 1:46am
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Haha milkmaid42....that is the EXACT cake I was talking about!!

milkmaid42 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 1:58am
post #7 of 33

Lol, we're a small caking world, aren't we? I can really see these as a swampy live oak. Sounds like a fun cake to make.



johnbailey64 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 3:16am
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Thanks for your comments.

I'm thinking just using my 11x15 pan. Just the single layer, torted and they want bavarian cream filling.

BeesKnees578 here is a picture I took at their camp. The 'camp' is a small trailer looking structure, I'm not going to include it. I'm thinking of laying it out much like the picture. Unless someone has a better idea???


WE have plenty of wonderful mossy bayouside lots here, but this one.. not so much! The lady who owns this - her husband has passed away a couple years ago, and they used to fish off the 'landing' together. She goes there often. This is her birthday cake.- her daughter has ordered it.

 They want her sitting in a chair on the little landing, fishing. But the only way it will look anything like it is if the leaning tree is there and the other one. You can't see it from this shot, but there are 'knees' from the tree roots coming up out of the water.


Milkmaid42, I do like the way the limbs and leaves are on those trees.

Miniflowercake, They need to stand on top of the cake.



someone has to tell me how to embed the picture!

BeesKnees578 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 11:38am
post #9 of 33

If you use the grape stems, I wouldn't even dip them in chocolate if you can figure out how to get them in the cake/board.  I would try the rice krispies and get them to stick with a little piping gel onto the branches.  Lightly spray them medium green.  Now for the draping effect of the Spanish moss....maybe fling some pale green colored gelatin on there?  While it's still sticky toss on some pulverized rice krispies which can be sprayed a pale green/brown? 


Just a thought, don't know if it would work or not, but gelatin is so easy that it's worth a shot!


Good luck!  And pics, please.

milkmaid42 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 1:55pm
post #10 of 33

Those are cypress trees; preferred habitat is a swamp, as you can see. The base of the tree is noticeably thickened and often the roots produce a knobby structure known as a cypress knee which protrudes from the water. But coming from Louisiana, you probably already know that.


I was thinking of oaks when I suggested the grape stem idea. Now that I know they are cypress, I don't think it would give you the effect you want. I think I would construct a trunk of heavy floral wire, (several together, in fact), wrapping some foil around the base to thicken it and wrap with brown floral tape. You could build this over a long skewer to provide support in the cake. For the branches, I would wire some smaller, bent and twisted wires, either with brown paper covered wire, or you could dip in chocolate. I think it would be difficult to cover with modeling chocolate. At this point you have a good naked skeleton. Looking at the photo, I don't see Spanish Moss, just the bright green of the cypress leaves. I am having difficulty visualizing the trick with the gelatin. I've made gelatin flowers and bows, but am having trouble  picturing it having enough strength to support itself over a "limb". It is something to toy around with, though. You might also try to use some brightly colored green (to match those leaves) gumpaste or even fondant. I'd cut it short and use a lot to simulate the drooping effect of the leaves.


Anyhow, it sounds like a fun challenge and perhaps others will come up with some more ideas. It sounds like it will be a very emotional cake and I'd love to see the picture when you're through. I'm sure she will be very touched.


Wishing you luck,



johnbailey64 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 3:25pm
post #11 of 33

Good idea for the trunk. I want to keep the weight of the trees to a minimum. That leaning one is going to be a little tricky! lol.

The leaves, I'm struggling with. Cypress trees are not exactly leafy - the knees will be easy.. Maybe even some tissue paper crinkled. Hmmm..... I'm ok with the trees not being edible at all.

I will post a picture when it is done. It is for the 25th of October. I think I'm going to start the fondant 'fishing lady' this weekend. Or maybe try to make my own gumpaste and try that.

I want it to look very peaceful. I want her to be able to hear the birds, and the water and feel the breeze- and know that it is 'their spot'


Should the water be brown? Piping gel?

milkmaid42 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 4:19pm
post #12 of 33

Goodness, I am so into this tree thing that I almost want to try one, myself. (As if I had the time atm, lol.) I think the water would look accurate if you did make it a greenish brown and piping gel would be a good way to go. I like it for water effects. Are you going to be using fondant? The reason being that would influence the color you'd need for the translucent gel.


Keep us informed of your progress. I'm enjoying this vicariously.



johnbailey64 Posted 8 Oct 2013 , 9:22pm
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The base of it will be buttercream. Just some of the decorations will be fondant. I will, Jan. lol.


johnbailey64 Posted 9 Oct 2013 , 4:11pm
post #14 of 33

OOoooOOO... just saw a tutorial on making lace leaves with thread. I think I'm going to try making a  rough cone form and cover it with wax paper, then put loose thread balls with elmers glue on it. If I stack a couple of randomly sparce ones, it may look like cypress 'leaves'.

milkmaid42 Posted 9 Oct 2013 , 4:42pm
post #15 of 33

Interesting.... I tried Googling it and was unsuccessful. (I'm not too computer literate.)  :(   Can you direct me there?



johnbailey64 Posted 9 Oct 2013 , 6:23pm
post #16 of 33


Originally Posted by milkmaid42 

Interesting.... I tried Googling it and was unsuccessful. (I'm not too computer literate.)  :(   Can you direct me there?



 This is the link that got me started thinking about it. I wasn't meaning use this method, but it got me thinking about glue and thread.  I can remember making snowflakes and such with cord type string and glue as a childhood project.

miniflowercake Posted 9 Oct 2013 , 7:12pm
post #17 of 33

I would use the grape stems - on account of that seeming the most sturdy (to me anyways, lol). Although I'm not sure that would give you that same look for the trees in the picture. 

milkmaid42 Posted 9 Oct 2013 , 7:26pm
post #18 of 33

Linda, now you really have me intrigued.  I went to the site and looked it over. I'm dying to see how you interpret the thread technique into your trees. I've done a lot of "couching" technique in my sewing, but never thought of transferring that skill into anything else.


Keep it up. I love to see the thought process of talented people.



johnbailey64 Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 1:38pm
post #19 of 33


Up date on my tree project. Sorry the picture isn't great, but it's the base of my paper mache tree. I used a wilton hollow plastic dowel for the base shape. Some of my 'thread bunches' are just stuck on there to see if its working. I'm going to  paint on a coat of elmers glue, I think, on the tree to seal it before I paint it. I think the thread thing is working. I just need more, more, more!

Oh, the brown is cinnamon. The paper mache recipe said to add cinnamon to make it smell better, I forgot to, so I just sprinkled some on while it was wet. :-)


My Tylose powder came in yesterday to add to my fondant so I'm going to work on the landing and woman sitting / fishing in the chair this weekend.


Gotta look up info on that. Not sure how much to add.

milkmaid42 Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 2:17pm
post #20 of 33

This is fun to see in action. I'm betting you think thread in your sleep! I wish I could advise you on the tylose. I just add it until it feels right, I'm sure you'll find the proportions here. It was a long time ago and I just don't remember now. 

By the way, I like how you have created the base roots of the tree. I am eager to see it when its finished. 



johnbailey64 Posted 23 Oct 2013 , 1:13pm
post #22 of 33

Well, I worked on trees and the chair for t;he fishing lady to sit in last night. the chair was giving me fits. I had pieces cut already and was trying to assemble them...I was trying to make adirondack type, added tylose to the fondant, but it doesn't seem to be hardening. The back of it looks 'adirondack' but the bottom/legs don't. :-/

I left it in front of a fan today, maybe by tonight it will be hardened. The trees with thread bunches are coming along nicely. I like them - just worried they may be a bit too 'realistic' for what the figure will look like.  Hope to get her sculpted tonight. I'm going to do a fondant pier, then buttercream for the grassy areas. I'll lay a brown fondant bed for the bayou and put piping gel on top of that. I think I'll make fondant circle bases for the trees to sit on so the paper mache doesnt sit in buttercream.

Gotta work in a "Happy Birthday, Mom" somewhere. I'm thinking of making a banner hang between the trees, but not sure yet.

Baked the cake last night and its  in the freezer. I have a full time job, church tonight, and I'm going to a Casting C r o w n 's concert tomorrow evening. They are going to pick up the cake Friday evening. Thank goodness I get off work at noon on Friday. lol. I just really need to finish the topper/ decorations tonight! Should have already had it done. I always do this to myself! lol. I'll get it.

Are ya'll like me? Someone asks you if you can do this or that and you say "Sure!" -- and in your mind thinking "gonna have to figure out how to pull that one off'" (logistically and technically) lol

Oh, gotta make a fising pole too. Maybe I'll use a skewer.

johnbailey64 Posted 24 Oct 2013 , 1:06pm
post #23 of 33


Here is my tree project and my fishing woman.  Her clothes only wrap halfway around her.  Gonna be kinda funny if they take her out of her chair, She (birthday woman) actually has a large forehead/receded hairline which is why the hair looks kinda like a cap! lol I'll finish this cake on Friday and post pictures, :-) (the circles are to place the trees on so the base of paper mache won't touch the buttercream)

milkmaid42 Posted 24 Oct 2013 , 1:08pm
post #24 of 33

This is looking so cool! She will blown away with the finished project! Thanks for the continuing updates....



johnbailey64 Posted 24 Oct 2013 , 2:18pm
post #25 of 33

Jan, I've just been looking at your albums. Wow. I feel like I'm in the presence of the cake QUEEN! Amazing work!



The trees are VERY light weight and not top heavy at all so they should travel well once doweled into the cake.

milkmaid42 Posted 24 Oct 2013 , 6:07pm
post #26 of 33

*Blush* Thank you, but I feel so inadequate when I see other's work on CC. We all just keep practicing and learning, and yes.....innovating. I really like the paper mache for your cypress trunks. As long as you are not striving for edible, that looks like a really cool way to go. It certainly takes away the fear of weight and support. My gum paste and fondant palm tree was a real concern with the weight and unbalanced curved trunk.



johnbailey64 Posted 24 Oct 2013 , 7:17pm
post #27 of 33

Generally I do like decorations to be edible, but in this case, I went with safe on the trees. If I were delivering it, I may have gone edible and even just waited til I got to the party to place them, but she is sending her son to pick it up.. lol.. yep... better make it safe. It will ride about an hour.

I'm sending her a message today, asking her to make sure he knows that it needs to be kept cool and transported LEVEL, (not leaning on his truck seat).

johnbailey64 Posted 26 Oct 2013 , 5:44pm
post #28 of 33

Cake is finished and gone. It came out ok, but I wasn't overly thrilled with it. I'll post pictures later.


I thought of you, Jan, Thursday night. I'm doing a wedding cake for my niece in a couple of weeks. They live 5 hours away, I'll head there Thursday night, the wedding is on Saturday, so I have Friday to do the whole thing - decorating, but another niece is going to have the cake baked and frozen for me so that will help a ton, but Thursday, she sent me a picture of an elaborate deer shaped cake, he's got huge antlers and sitting in a forest scene. She wanted to know if I could also do a grooms cake like that. OMGoodness! lol. No. They hadn't even said anything to me about the grooms cake. I didn't even know they expected me to do it!

I had sent my pans to the niece that is going to bake it for me, but when the one getting married talked to me Thursday, changed her design, now the bottom tier will be round instead of square, so I'll have to bake that one. The bottom layer has a chevron pattern, the middle is pedal ruffle, and the top polka dot.

But there will be no sculpted deer. Not happening. Too much for ONE DAY! lol.

milkmaid42 Posted 26 Oct 2013 , 6:05pm
post #29 of 33

All I can say is, Oh wow! Good luck. I guess she just thinks you have a "magic oven." I bet it will be beautiful. You have a lot of talent.



johnbailey64 Posted 27 Oct 2013 , 5:25am
post #30 of 33

Here is the finished cake. It was the 11x 15 size pan. The picture of the 'camp' that it was supposed to represent is the photograph beside it. They were pleased with it. I wasn't so much, but it turned out ok. Of course it is the 'flip side' of the pic.. as looking at it from across the other side of the bayou.

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