Pine trees are wonderful plants. They’re beautiful all year round and have that stupendous aroma, plus they become seasonal and wonderful at Christmas! If you’re hoping to add a pine tree or two to your bakes, then look no further for helpful instructions and tips.
The simplest way to add a pine tree to your bakes is to use a star piping nozzle and some green buttercream icing.
- Begin by piping a wide, flat circle onto the top of your cake, and then twist the piping bag as you lift it up.
- Then, with the nozzle now at a ninety-degree angle to where it was, pipe another wide circle, though one that’s slightly less large than the previous circle.
- Continue doing this until your pine trees are precisely the height that you want them to be!
- To really finish them off, give them a dusting of icing sugar – this will look like snow, and really complete the aesthetic of the cake.
There are a couple of different ways that you could make pine trees for your bakes, however, and we’ve got them all here. To find out more, take a look below!
Flat Pine Pattern
If you want to make a wonderful set of pine trees for a bake of yours, but you don’t want to risk making a three-dimensional structure, then we get it. 3D structures are likely to fall over or crumble, which would lead to a poor look overall in the cake. To avoid these problems, you could try piping flat pine trees in a pattern on top of the cake!
To do this, we’d recommend using a star tip on a piping bag, ideally a tip that’s quite fine. Treat the pattern almost like cross-stitch or a paint-by-numbers, and start by making small icing blobs as the outermost edge of the tree – the part that snow would fall on if it were a real tree.
Once your outline is completed, you can begin to fill in the rest of the tree – make regular blobs of icing in a grid pattern, and you’ll prevent there from being any holes in the overall pattern. Pine needles on real trees are quite dense, so it’s worth ensuring that your icing is dense too.
However, it is worth saying that having a couple of see-through spots isn’t the end of the world. Plenty of trees out there in the forests of the world have missing branches, so why can’t yours?
After you’ve finished piping the pine tree, you can end by adding a little decoration. We’d recommend a little fondant pot at the base, or a buttercream stump, perhaps. If you’re icing a Christmas cake, you could pipe little presents under the tree, and even add small fairy lights in the tree – the only limit is your imagination!
Ice Cream Cone Base
This is a less conventional way to top a cake, but it will certainly work well as a basic and repeatable structure to make beautiful cakes.
This method is ideal for people who are getting into piping and decorating their own cakes, but they aren’t quite confident enough to tree a freehand tree just yet. A supplementary benefit of this method is that the structures you make don’t have to be made on the cake. You could prepare them on a chopping board and then move the cones to the cake – this way it won’t matter quite so much if you drop a little icing.
To get started with this, first, get your hands on some ice cream cones. If you have cones that have a large top section (designed to hold more ice cream) then remove those top portions before getting started – we just want to have a cone shape, without anything else involved.
- Place the ice cream cones upside down so that they’re freestanding – the points must point upwards, and the edges must be roughly level so that they don’t tip at all.
- Then, you can begin to decorate the cones. Again, using green-dyed buttercream icing is probably your best bet – it’s easy to pipe to create a texture reminiscent of pine needles. Another great thing about this method is that since ice cream cones are fairly strong, you don’t need to worry about the weight of the buttercream on them. They’ll surely be able to stand upright with no worries whatsoever!
- When piping your green buttercream icing onto the ice cream cones themselves, we’d recommend angling your piping bag upwards slightly. That way, you can squeeze icing onto the cones, and then pull the bag up and away from the cone. This will result in buttercream icing which resembles pine needles, in that they point upwards and have sharpish ends.
- Again, when making the trees, try to use a star-shaped piping nozzle. This will give the tree some extra texture, making it all the more reminiscent of pine trees.
The important thing to bear in mind is that pine trees in nature have very well-defined shapes, leading to a straightforward cone – less is more, and aiming for that basic cone shape is for the best.
Freehand piping is the most technically challenging way to make pine trees, but it’s also the best way to make pine trees that have a cuter, more rounded aesthetic. This might be ideal for you if you’re looking to create a more warm, cute Christmas cake. If you want to make pine trees that are sharper and made up with cleaner lines, then perhaps try our ice cream cone method.
We briefly ran through the freehand piping method at the start of the article, and the base points remain the same.
- Begin by using a star-shaped piping nozzle to pipe a large, roughly flat circle. This will be the base of the tree. The best way to make this shape is simply to hold the bag still but push out more icing – the pressure will create a slightly wider circle.
- Then, lift the bag and pipe another circle on top of the previous one. To make sure that the shape of the pine tree is more convincingly random, twist the bag so that you’re piping at a ninety-degree angle away from where you originally were. Picture it this way: if you’re stood on one side of the cake and piping vertically down, pivot around the cake so that you’re ninety degrees left of where you just were.
- Do this repeatedly, and the final texture will be more random in an aesthetically pleasing way.
- Continue creating layers until you get to the height that you desire, and then you can pipe the final layer.
- Pipe a small blob onto the center of the previous layer, and then rapidly pull the bag up and vertically away from the cake – this will create a spiked top for your tree, ideal for completing the silhouette.
Once the final shape of the pine tree is completed, the trees will likely still be ever so slightly tacky. If this is the case, then we’d recommend giving them a gentle dusting of icing sugar so that they appear to have been snowed upon.
The final great thing about this method is that you don’t have to pipe directly onto the cake. While it may be easier to do that, you could, instead, pipe your trees onto small circles of brown fondant icing which serves as the dirt that they’re planted in. Then, using a small offset spatula, you can lift the entire tree up onto the cake!