Christmas tree-shaped cake topped with meringues and biscuits

White forest Christmas tree traybake

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(11 ratings)

Prep: 4 hrs Cook: 1 hr plus 6 hrs drying and cooling

More effort

Serves 16

Get ahead at Christmas with this showstopping cake boasting white chocolate, cherries and festive spice. You can bake the sponges, meringues and biscuits the day before assembling

Nutrition and extra info

  • sponges only
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal426
  • fat21g
  • saturates13g
  • carbs56g
  • sugars48g
  • fibre1g
  • protein3g
  • salt0.6g
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  • 250g softened salted butter, plus extra for the tin



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon



    A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…

  • ½ tbsp ground ginger



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 1 tsp baking powder
    Baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

  • 150g natural yogurt
  • ½ tbsp vanilla paste
  • 50g white chocolate chips
    White chocolate squares, stacked

    White chocolate

    why-t chok-lit

    To purists, this is not chocolate because it is made only from the fat or butter of the cacao…

  • festively shaped ginger biscuits, to decorate (see our recipe)

For the leaves, cherries and jam

  • 1 egg white
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 5-6 fresh bay leaves, washed and dried
  • 5-6 cocktail cherries with stalks, drained
  • 125g morello cherry jam
  • edible glitter (optional)

For the meringues

  • 1 egg white
  • 100g caster sugar
  • green and red food colouring gel
  • gold leaf and edible glitter, to decorate (optional)

For the buttercream

  • 250g softened butter



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste
  • 2 tbsp milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…


  1. To make the frosted leaves and cherries, whisk the egg white with a fork until frothy. Tip the sugar onto a plate. Brush the egg white onto the bay leaves or dip them, then sprinkle the sugar over the leaves and half the cherries to coat. Leave to dry on a sheet of parchment for 6 hrs or until the frosting has completely dried. 

  2. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. For the sponge, butter and line a 30 x 20cm traybake tin with parchment. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric whisk until creamy. Whisk in the eggs, one by one, then sieve and fold in the flour, spices and baking powder. Fold in the yogurt, vanilla and chocolate chips. Tip into the tin, smooth over and bake for 30-35 mins until the sponge is golden and springs back when pressed. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, remove the parchment and leave to cool completely.

  3. Reduce the oven to 120C/100C fan/gas ½ and leave the door open briefly to make sure the temperature drops low enough. To make the meringues, whisk the egg white in a large bowl with an electric whisk, or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks form. Continually whisking, add the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until it’s completely combined. Once it’s all added, beat for another 3-4 mins until you get a stiff, shiny meringue. Transfer the mixture to two small piping bags fitted with star and round nozzles. Use a cocktail stick, knife or spoon dipped in the food colouring to paint the inside of the bags in stripes up the length, painting each bag with a different colour (see pic A) and leaving the area nearest the nozzle uncoloured, then fill with meringue. Cover a baking sheet with parchment, using a little of the meringue on the underside to stick it to the tray. Pipe blobs onto it, well spaced apart, to make meringue kisses – they will come out plain first (pic B). Bake for 30 mins, then turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside to cool to room temperature. Decorate them with gold leaf or glitter, if you like.

  4. Press the jam firmly through a sieve to remove any large chunks and stir what’s left in the sieve back into the jar. Stir in a few pinches of glitter, if you like, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle.

  5. Beat the buttercream ingredients together using an electric whisk until you get a pale, fluffy icing. Transfer to a large piping bag with a wide, round nozzle.

  6. To cut the sponge into a tree shape, first split the cooled cake into two layers using a cake cutter or serrated knife (pic C). Using a ruler or a sheet of baking parchment the same width as the cake, mark a halfway point at the top end of the cake (pic D). At the bottom end of the cake, mark it into thirds (pic E). Using these as a guide, cut squares from the bottom end of the cake, leaving a centre section for the tree stump, then cut from your middle mark at the top down to the bottom edges to create a Christmas tree shape (pic F). Use the off-cuts to make cake pops, or in trifle. Carefully lift off the top sponge using a baking sheet, and pipe blobs of buttercream all over, starting from the outside edge (pic G). Chill for 20 mins to firm up. Pipe some of the jam between the buttercream blobs, except the outer edge. 

  7. Position the remaining cake on top (pic H), and pipe more icing blobs all over (pic I). Add the frosted leaves, frosted and plain cherries, ginger biscuits (see our recipe) and meringues (pic J), sprinkle a little glitter over the un-frosted cherries, and pipe on the remaining jam in blobs (pic K). Add the biscuits, putting a star-shaped one at the top, and add gold leaf, if you like. Will keep, well covered in the fridge, for two-three days.

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Comments, questions and tips

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1st Jan, 2020
I was happy with how this cake turned out, although wasn't blown away when eating it. The actual bake is very simple and the cake is lightly spiced, moist and pleasant but it is (as to be expected) very sweet with all the buttercream and decorations. As long as you leave yourself plenty of time to make the extras (I made the meringues, gingerbread and leaf/cherry decorations the day before) then it all comes together easily enough and does make for an impressive festive dessert, at least in terms of looks, but next time I would use less buttercream in the middle to make it a bit less sweet to eat.
Christine Giles's picture
Christine Giles
24th Dec, 2019
This cake looked really great and tasted good too - the spices made it taste very Christmassy but I wouldn't say you could taste the white chocolate. 30 mins at 160 fan was enough in my oven. I didn't manage to get the colours on the meringue very well - you probably need to add quite a lot of gel to the piping bag which I didn't do. The recipe makes so many meringues - about ten times what you need! I didn't make the ginger biscuits - I just used some other biscuits I'd made and used edible gold spray on them. I also used cranberries instead of cherries and dry bay leaves instead of fresh which worked really well. I'd recommend this recipe - it looked really impressive!
28th Nov, 2019
Ratings don't mean anything unless there is a relevant comment to go with it! I will be making this cake with my granddaughters soon and freezing it but the decorations won't go on until just before Christmas day so would love to get some comments before then. I know sugar overload!
10th Dec, 2019
Looks like a great recipe and really excited to make it. But I have real trouble getting some of the ingredients - where on earth do you get morello cherries with stalks in December? I live in central London and have so far not found any, offline or online!
lulu_grimes's picture
11th Dec, 2019
Hello, We bought Jack Rudy cocktail cherries on Ocado (also available from drinks suppliers online) which are dark coloured, Opies cocktail cherries also come with stalks but are a brighter red. The stalks are not essential so you could use any black cherries, Luxado and Fabbri would work well. I hope this helps.
2nd Dec, 2019
For stage 2 do I whisk or fold in the flour mixture?
lulu_grimes's picture
3rd Dec, 2019
Thank you for your question, you fold in the flour, we will add this piece of information to the recipe.
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