Slice into this adorable cake for a taste of sweet apples and cinnamon.
Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy an apple dessert, and this cake sure won’t disappoint. Cinnamon-coated crisp and tart Granny Smith Apples are baked into a Betty Crocker Pound Cake and then topped with a light cinnamon frosting.
The cake is wonderful all on its own, but to put it over the top, I decorated it to look like a grass-covered yard and planted a cute tree on top that’s made from chocolate cereal treats, white chocolate coated popcorn, and sour candy apples. The white picket fence is made out of white modeling chocolate, which means this entire dessert is edible! So once your friends and family are done oohing and ahhing over the tree, they'll love eating this sweet fall-inspired treat.
First, to really carry the theme through the cake, I added cinnamon apples to a Betty Crocker Pound Cake Mix.
The apples added a lovely fresh fall flavor to the pound cake and helped to keep it moist.
To make the apple flavor really pop, I added a touch of cinnamon to some Betty Crocker Whipped White Frosting, which I then tinted green and spread onto the cake. I could have skipped this step, but the top of my cake was rather bumpy. I could have leveled it, but decided instead to fill in the grooves with frosting.
To make the frosting look like grass, I added a grass decorating tip to a pastry bag, filled it with frosting, and then piped frosting grass all over the top of the cake, leaving room to add my apple tree later. Then I froze my cake for a few hours. I knew the pound cake would be nice and sturdy, but I wanted to make sure the cake was solid enough to hold up my tree without having to add lots of support. Plus, I find that a frozen cake, once thawed, is more moist and tender.
Now for the really fun part of this project: I began my making a batch of cereal treats using chocolate rice crisp cereal. I added some chocolate chips to make a more sturdy mixture.
Working on a silicone mat to keep the tree from sticking, I started to sculpt my tree trunk. One thing to note here: You need to make pretty long roots on your trunk in order to keep the tree from toppling over. Mine did at first; in the final pictures you'll see I had to add longer roots. Learn from my mistake and add them now! Add 6 or more roots. You can always cover some of them up with frosting grass if you don't want them all to show, but they will help to keep your tree upright.
As I worked I painted milk chocolate over the cereal treats. If you use milk chocolate, you need to temper it; otherwise I'd suggest using light cocoa confectionery coating (candy melts) as listed in the ingredients. It's important to allow the chocolate to harden before you start adding a lot of branches. It's also a good idea to add about 3 layers to the trunk to make sure it's really solid.
To add branches, I first shaped them out of cereal treats, then painted them with chocolate and allowed them to dry. Then I attached them to the tree using more chocolate, allowed that to dry, and then painted another coat of chocolate over the branch.
You won’t actually see many of these branches, but you need lots of them to hold up the popcorn leaves. It's important that the tree is really solid and the chocolate has completely hardened before you add the leaves.
Once my chocolate tree was ready I wrapped the base of the trunk in plastic wrap. Then I whipped up a batch of green-colored white chocolate popcorn.
Making the candy coated popcorn is so easy; just fold melted green confectionery coating into popped popcorn until it's nicely coated.
Working quickly, I added popcorn to the tree, placing a few pieces in between the branches then piling more on top once those pieces were secure. This is a messy job! I washed my hands several times while creating my tree.
If the popcorn starts to harden as you're working, you can put the bowl in the microwave and heat it for 10-15 seconds. You want to get all the popcorn on the tree, then refrigerate it until the candy-coated popcorn hardens.
Once my tree was ready, I used the rest of the green candy coating as edible glue to attach the sour cherry candies (AKA the apples) to the tree.
Right after I took this picture, the tree fell over and I realized it needed larger roots! I added the roots, but worried the tree wouldn't stand up well, so I pushed three skewers into the tree in a crisscross pattern and cut off any excess on the bottom. I let it sit overnight to make sure it would stand up, and it did. So, as I said, just start with a sturdy root structure and your tree should stand strong!
To finish off the cake, I created a picket fence out of white modeling chocolate. I rolled it out on a silicone mat then cut out all the pieces.
Then I attached the fence pieces using water as glue and let them dry for a while.
Once all the components of my cake were done, I pulled the cake out of the freezer and set the tree on top.
Then I finished the cake by piping on the rest of the grass, adding the fence around the cake and sprinkling on some candy apples under the tree.
By the time I finished taking some pictures and took a slice out of the cake, it was thawed and ready to serve.
It tasted like a perfect bite of autumn!
Beth happily spends her days creating fun food and handmade chocolate and enjoys sharing step-by-step tutorials with her readers on her blog, Hungry Happenings. Be sure to check out her profile to see all the other festive foods she's made for Tablespoon.com.