Make This Adorable Woodland Cake + 5 More Ways to Decorate With Faux Bois
I’m crazy for faux bois. The French term translates to “false wood” and incorporates any number of gorgeous home goods: faux bois wallpaper, pillows, side tables and rugs to turn your home into a rustic Snow White wonderland. And that's not even getting into the possibilities of faux bois-patterned sweets, like this cake:
I have reached into my psyche to figure out why woodland themes are so profoundly pleasing to me. I spent some of my formative childhood years in Germany, ground zero for adorable toadstools, gnomes, fawns and forest-y imagery.
But bottom line: I have no idea! I just accept it, like I accept my love of seafoam green and throw pillows as a matter of taste.
If I could, I would give my house over to full-throttle faux bois. A Philippe Stark Kartell gnome with faux bois embellishment is on my design bucket list, but I could easily make do with any of the numerous wood grain-themed items offered by home furnishings pruveyors.
Land of Nod has an adorable woodgrain quilt from its kitsch-cheeky Camp Iwannadrinkawawwa line that makes my heart sing. And who wouldn't love a den or home office or statement wall papered in Brett Beldock Design's Wood Grain Wallpaper in Mochachino?
There are many high-end offerings when it comes to faux bois rugs. I love the subtly of Stark Carpet's Timber rug in Birch, available in various retail locations. Or if you have a designer on speed dial, there are options like the to-the-trade Muir Woods Rug in Moss. Sublime!
Digging the idea of faux bois in an outdoor setting? Currey and Company has an entire line of woodsy furniture including the Woodland Bench which would imbue any garden nook with fairy tale charm. Fair warning: if you click this link and go to the Currey and Company faux bois offerings you are likely to be overcome with the cuteness of it all.
Longing to bring a little edible faux bois into my life, I decided to create a faux bois cake, a sort of practice run for a little forest of woodland cakes I want to create for Thanksgiving.
First, straight up, I am not a cake boss, cake master, cake genius, whatever, so if I was able to pull this together, I can guarantee you can too. It’s all about the adorable accessories to me, which help probing eyes forgive any sloppy frosting technique.
To me the woodsy look of faux bois really suits the holiday season. So, inspired by several images I’d seen on Pinterest of various versions of a wood grain cake, I decided to bring my love of fake nature into the edible realm.
Be warned: Don't attempt this cake unless you are ready to hear lots of wistful sighs and cooing. Faux bois and teeny tiny trees and deer are powerful things. Here are some tips to do some faux bois-ing of your own.
Make it Miniature
To create my faux bois cake I used very small cake tins to up the adorable factor. You can decide if you want to go wood grain inside and out. If you want to create the wood effect in the cake itself, use both chocolate and vanilla cake batter. Working with a 1/4 cup at a time, create circles—one on top of the other—of alternating colors in your pans. Allow the batter to spread out on its own: don't force it.
Don't Forget to Grease Those Pans!
I have terrible luck getting cakes to pop out of their tins, but this time I went haywire with the cooking oil spray and had no trouble getting the cakes out. I placed waxed paper in the same size as the cake pan on a slab of wood cross-section from the craft store and iced the cake directly on that au naturel pedestal.
Just Add Frosting
I created a simple buttercream frosting with confectioner's sugar, a stick of butter, vanilla and half and half. I used unsweetened cocoa powder to dye about 1/4 of the frosting a subtle brown for the top of the cake. The majority of frosting I dyed using a darker, richer blend of melted semisweet chocolate chips (dark chocolate would be great too) and cocoa powder.
Keep Crumbs Under Control
I frosted the entire cake with the dark chocolate frosting, including the top, to serve as a crumb coat. Then I spread the lighter brown frosting just on the top, and used a chop stick dipped in the darker frosting to create wood grain rings on top. I used a combination of butter knife and toothpick to create vertical swirls and hatch marks on the side of the cake to mimic the look of bark.
Just Add Kitsch
You can go maximalist or minimalist, depending upon how kitschy you like things (I have a very high tolerance for kitsch). Add tiny mushrooms, a tree topper placed on a small birch wood piece, little deer, rabbits, gnomes, more tiny bottle brush trees. It's all good. I think this cake, as one HGTVGardens Instagrammer suggested, would be great with a plaid-themed table setting for Thanksgiving or Christmas.