Wood cake textures are the ultimate versatile background for cake boards and with a little know-how can be transformed into multiple styles, colours and forms. Zoe shares her favourite three wood effects. And they’re so versatile and easy to create!
The versatility of wood cake textures
Natural wood, wood grain species, wooden floorboards, painted wood, textured wood, natural wood bark, peeling bark… this natural material is so ubiquitous and presented in so many forms – we're spoilt for choice as cake decorators! Wood effects can enhance cakes in so many ways, but here are some of the common uses for it:
- Box cakes (veg crates, toy boxes, tool boxes)
- Floorboards for cake boards (rustic, natural or painted)
- Barrel cakes
- Tree stump cakes
- Woodland or rustic wedding cakes
- Nautical, ships, pirate and beach themes
- Shabby chic and boho themes
How to create wood cake textures
By Zoe Burmester of Sugar Street Studios.
All wood is not the same colour! Think about whether you are going for a rich mahogany wood, light ash or a honey oak. This will determine your colour palette but the techniques will be the same!
Ideal for… a pirate-themed birthday cake.
You will need
- Gel food colouring (Zoe uses brown and yellow)
- Petal dusts (Zoe uses cream, chocolate and black)
- Wood grain stencil
- Dresden tool
- Soft brush
1. Choose your base colour and keep it lighter than the finished wood you want. For an oak base mix brown and yellow together and keep the mix a little streaky so you start with a ‘grain’ already in your sugarpaste.
2. Invest in a wood grain stencil and use this to push into your paste to leave a subtle impression. Don’t press all over the paste as you don’t want it to look uniform, but do make sure the wood grain is all going in the same direction!
3. Use a Dresden tool to enhance the wood grain by adding in a few extra texture lines and pressing in to create a few ‘knots’ in the wood. Don’t overdo this, unless you intentionally want a rough, gnarly look.
4. Finally, layer colour over the wood using petal dusts and a soft brush. Choose tones that complement your base colour and rub these over the impressions and into the grooves. Start with a light colour mix and gradually get darker with the tones. Apply with soft strokes in the direction of your wood grain and remember you don’t want even coverage as it’s the subtle changes of colour that make it look like wood grain.
Sometimes you just don’t want a brown base! Going for a painted or white washed look on your wood creates a much fresher backdrop and a more neutral colour palette.
Ideal for… a baby toy box cake.
You will need
- Metal ruler
- Blade tool
- Gel food colouring (Zoe uses grey)
- Petal dusts
- Alcohol or dipping solution
1. Painted wood looks great as planks. To make the boards simply press the edge of a metal ruler into your paste at equal horizontal lines. Use a blade tool to mark out the vertical lines as shown. Use a blade tool to soften these lines so it looks a little more organic and then begin to texture the wood lightly.
2. Mix up petal dust and alcohol or dipping solution (not water) to a few tones darker than your base. If you’re not sure go thinner as the colour will be weaker and you can build up. With a wide flat brush, paint over the paste in the direction of your boards. Avoid a uniform application and build up the colour in the cracks. Allow to dry.
3. Add extra colour depth by rubbing in petal dusts into the crooks and crannies with a soft brush.
4. Add in your painted white wash by mixing white petal dust with alcohol and applying broad brush strokes in the same direction as before. If you apply too much you can always blot or wipe some off with a paper towel. Remember there’s no right or wrong here… play with the colour application until you're happy with the look!
If you’re looking to improve your cake decorating techniques, Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft magazine has you covered with techniques for beginners through to advanced cakers! Plus, you’ll find a wealth of inspiration, expert tips, the latest products from the cake world… and so much more!
As an alternative to bark impression mats, experiment with wafer paper to recreate an interesting papery bark effect. If you plan to use this technique on a round cake tier you'll find it easier to make the bark up in one large piece off the cake and then wrap it around the cake once complete.
Ideal for… wedding cakes, especially if you want to create something more organic with sugar flowers.
You will need
- Rolling pin
- Base colour sugarpaste, dried
- Wafer paper
- Petal dusts
1. Choose your base colour sugarpaste. Leave the paste to dry out and firm up (speed this up by baking it in a very low oven for a few minutes) and allow to cool. Tear wafer paper in irregular strips making sure you have nice jagged edges.
2. Wet the paste with a brush dipped in water and place the torn wafer paper across the paste in an irregular fashion but all in the same linear direction. Dampen generously with a wet brush on the top of the wafer paper and allow to dry out a bit. Take a rolling pin and heavily push and roll the paste – this action will tear the paste even further exposing cracks in the paper and revealing the paste beneath.
3. Now leave to fully dry. Once it’s dry you can apply petal dusts in tones darker than your base and use a large soft brush to rub this onto the papered sugarpaste. This will require a few build up layers.
4. Continue until the required colour is reached.