This Vintage Christmas Tree Cake will bring you straight back to your childhood- just like the retro ceramic Christmas tree, only sweeter!

cake decorated to look like a retro ceramic Christmas tree

A few years ago, these vintage Christmas trees began coming back into popularity. Like many, I had fond childhood memories of dusting off that retro ceramic tree every year and placing it on top of the giant wooden box television. There is a 90% chance the tree was also sitting on top of a faded crocheted doily.

one vanilla tree cake and one chocolate tree cake with frosting and sprinkles beside them

I was inspired to make this Vintage Christmas Tree Cake when I purchased some jumbo lightbulb sprinkles. They were three-dimensional and too bulky to decorate cookies with, but they reminded me of the bulbs on those ceramic trees.

I couldn’t choose between the white Christmas tree or the classic green, so naturally, I prepared both. You can never have too much cake!

cake decorated to look like a retro ceramic white Christmas tree

Vintage Christmas Tree Cakes

I made box cake mixes, but you can use homemade cakes if that is your preference. To make this incredibly quick and easy, I also used a shaped Christmas tree cake pan (linked below in the recipe card).

For frosting thick enough to pipe through a decorating bag and keep its shape, I suggest making the frosting.

Using a large star tip, start frosting your tree cakes from the bottom up.

one vanilla tree cake and one chocolate tree cake shown being frosted from the bottom up

Cut a cake board to be just a bit smaller than the cakes so that the cardboard doesn’t stick out from the edges. Frost the cakes on top of parchment paper so that you can twist them to reach every space as needed, starting with the sides and then the bottom of the cakes.

When finished, place the jumbo Christmas bulb sprinkles into the cake along with a frosted star cookie.

I thinned out a few tablespoons of white frosting and tinted it yellow. Then I dipped a star-shaped Gingerbread Spritz cookie into the frosting and placed it on top.

cake decorated to look like a retro ceramic Christmas tree

Can I prepare this cake in advance?

Unfrosted cake can be prepared 1-2 days in advance stored in a sealed, airtight container.

Frosted cake will seal in moisture but can begin to get soggy after 1-2 days/

Refrigerated frosted or unfrosted cake can be stored 2-3 days in the refrigerator if stored properly in an airtight container.

Frozen unfrosted cake can be stored wrapped tightly and sealed for up to 2 months.

cakes decorated to look like vintage Christmas trees and a close up of a slice of the vanilla cake

Choking Hazard

Please be mindful of serving this Vintage Christmas Tree Cake to small children. Just like when using any small candies or large sprinkles, keep an eye out to make sure every bite is chewed thoroughly before swallowing.

If you are concerned with this, then we suggest using frosting for the bulbs or smaller, flat sprinkles.

chocolate Christmas tree cake with a slice cut out sitting on top of a cooling rack with ornaments beside

If you do not own a Christmas tree pan, I found this tree cake template to look the most like the retro vintage Christmas tree design.

Linked below, you will find my suggestions for the cake pan, frosting tip, sprinkles, and piping bags.

cakes decorated to look like vintage Christmas trees and a close up of a slice of the vanilla cake

cake decorated to look like a retro ceramic Christmas tree

Vintage Christmas Tree Cake

This Vintage Christmas Tree Cake will bring you straight back to your childhood- just like the retro ceramic Christmas tree, only sweeter!
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Ingredients

  • 1 cake, prepared
  • 1 jumbo sprinkles

Crisping Cake Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening, (like Crisco)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract, see notes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 1 pinch salt, to taste

Instructions
 

Buttercream

  • In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl for use with your handheld electric mixer, place shortening, butter, and extracts. BEAT until creamy (at least 1 minute).
  • ADD powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
  • ADD cream 2-3 Tablespoons at a time, alternating with the powdered sugar.
  • MIX until creamy. Use more or less cream (or whole milk) to reach the desired consistency. (I like for it to be smooth enough to pipe through a piping bag, but still a bit more firm than typical store-bought frosting.)
  • ADD a 2-3 drops of gel food coloring if desired.

Cake

  • PREPARE cake as instructed. Let cool completely.
  • PREPARE buttercream frosting.
  • Using a large star tip, FROST the tree cakes starting from the sides and then from the bottom up.
  • PLACE jumbo bulb sprinkles and top with a cookie or frosting star.

Notes

  • The frosting does not dry hard; it simply forms a crust due to the shortening.
  • If opting out of using almond extract, use more vanilla extract.
  • All butter may be substituted for shortening, but it will affect the texture, and it will not "crisp" up.

Did you make this recipe?Tag @katrinaskitchen on Instagram with the hashtag #katrinaskitchenrecipes

collage image showing cakes decorated to look like vintage Christmas trees

If you like this Vintage Christmas Tree Cake you may like our Christmas Tree Meringue Cookies or the festive Ugly Christmas Sweater Sugar Cookie Bars.

collage image showing cakes decorated to look like vintage Christmas trees and a close up of a slice of the vanilla cake