This Donut Tree is so much fun to eat, make and display! Learn how to make a donut cake tower in this post, including step-by-step pictures.
Making a Donut Tree is easy and lots of fun
Hi! My name is Jonathan (AKA Tina’s partner AKA the lucky guy who eats of all the food that appears on The Worktop AKA @jonajooey).
I’m going to be guest blogging about a fun lil’ creation I helped make with my toddler.
(And yes, I needed a lot of coffee that morning before we started.)
We were craving donut holes so made a donut hole tree!
I’m not quite sure how we got here. I’m not typically the crafty type, or the one to spend much time in the kitchen.
But between a recent donut craving, trying to come up with a fun DIY project to do with my kid, and mama working on a Hosting a Baby Shower Brunch post (to be shared soon!), it led to me and BB making a Donut Tree together.
And let me tell you, it was so much fun (and easy!) I think we are going to make a donut tree again.
My thought is that we will be making donut birthday cakes going forward. And come the holidays, a donut Christmas tree will replace our Gingerbread house traditions.
Why I loved making this donut cake tower
A Donut Cake Tower has got a few things going for it:
- You don’t have to do any cooking (which is good if you suck at cooking like I am).
- It’s something that a toddler as young as two can actually participate in.
- It doesn’t take too long.
- It’s not that messy.
- The best part – you get to eat your own Donut hole cake creation after it’s all done!
How to make a donut cake tower
It takes 5 simple steps to make your donut cake tower. Step by step instructions and pictures follow, but here’s the quick rundown:
- Step 1: Find a good styrofoam cone for the base of the donut tree
- Step 2: Wrap the styrofoam cone in foil
- Step 3: Use a bit of icing to “glue” the base of the styrofoam cone to a plate
- Step 4: Make some donut holes with sprinkles
- Step 5: Use toothpicks and start building your donut cake
Step one: Find a good styrofoam cone for the base of the donut tree
The hardest part of this entire project is deciding on the perfect styrofoam to serve as the base for your donut hole tree. Depending on how many donuts you want to serve/eat, you can size the styrofoam accordingly.
How many donut holes do you need to make a tree?
I wasn’t sure how many donut holes we would need, so I ended up buying 60 of them. But our 9.8-inch / 25 cm styrofoam could only fit 48 comfortably. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not complaining about the extra leftover donuts.
We used a 9.8-inch (25 cm) styrofoam cone, which fit 48 donut holes.
To be honest, it took us about a day and half to eat this donut cake tower. Is that too gluttonous?
- If you find that to be too many, you can use this 8.8-inch styrofoam cone.
- If you want even more donut holes on the tree, you can size up with this 13.5-inch styrofoam cone.
Step two: Wrap the styrofoam cone in foil
Then, wrap the entire styrofoam cone in foil.
We do this because you can never be sure whether the styrofoam is food safe. You also prevent little specks of styrofoam from getting on the donuts.
As a bonus, I have never met a toddler who doesn’t find it fun to “wrap” something.
Step three: Use a bit of icing to “glue” the base of the styrofoam cone to a plate
Just to be on the safe side, we used a bit of simple icing to make sure the styrofoam tree base stays in place on the plate.
Even for someone as challenged at cooking as I am, this was easy: Just add powdered sugar plus a tiny bit of water into a bowl and mix it so it’s like a glue.
You’ll also want to use this simple icing in the next step, which involves rainbow rice!
Step four: Break out the donut holes and make donut holes with sprinkles
Then the fun part. Break out the donuts and start making your donut hole tree!
To make the donut hole cake a bit more festive, we decided to turn some of the donut holes into sprinkled versions.
To do this, you’ll need one bowl of simple icing and one bowl filled with lots of rainbow rice (aka sprinkles).
After that, simply dip a few of the munchkins in the icing, then dip it in the sprinkles. Let it dry.
TIP: The next time I make a donut hole tree, I actually would do this step first so the sprinkled donuts have a chance to dry and are ready to go when you’re putting the donuts on the tree.
Step five: Use toothpicks and start building your donut cake tower
You next stick the donut holes to the styrofoam base using toothpicks. It’s as straightforward as it sounds.
Start from the bottom and work your way up. But, some finesse is helpful. So here are a few tips I can share.
Tips for building your donut hole cake
Use long toothpicks
It is easier to construct this donut hole tree with longer toothpicks at hand. With longer skewers, you can insert them further into the styrofoam cone for a sturdier hold on the donut holes.
Longer toothpicks also let you break or cut them into varying lengths more easily. I’ll explain why this is important in the next tip.
We used 4-inch bamboo skewers and they held up the donut holes perfectly.
Break toothpicks to the necessary lengths
With the toothpicks, I found it helpful to break them into varying lengths depending on how high up the styrofoam base I was.
By the time you get to the top, the toothpick will poke out of the other side. Additionally, you’re going to have so many toothpicks in that thing you might end up hitting another toothpick.
At the same time, don’t break the toothpicks too short otherwise it’ll be tricky to stab into the styrofoam.
First insert the toothpick, then insert the donut holes
And another point from experience on getting the donut holes on to the styrofoam is to actually stab the toothpick into the styrofoam first, then stab the donut into the toothpick poking out.
Trying to do it other way might result in some sad mangled donut holes!
Carefully space the donut holes on the tree
The donut hole cake looks a whole lot better without gaps, so there is some art to the donut placement.
You’ll want to do your best to give each donut room to breathe, but also squash them comfortably against each other.
As you work your way up the styrofoam, you’ll notice that each donut “sits” on top in between the two donuts below it. It does get squashy at the top though, so just try your best.
Fill any large gaps in your donut hole tree with decorations
If you have large gaps in your donut hole tree, fill them up with decorations! That way, no one will be able to tell.
We used these super cute 2-inch honeycomb balls inserted into the long toothpicks.
You can also buy cupcake toppers or other cake decorations to insert into any gaps.
Tips for making a donut tree with a kid
I had a lot of fun making this donut tree with BB. You’ll figure out pretty quickly what your toddler can and cannot help with.
I found the following actions were easy enough for him to do on his own:
- Dipping the donuts into the icing and sprinkles
- Picking which donut hole to put on the tree next (a big deal!!)
- Stabbing the donut onto the toothpick
If a good-looking donut tree is a concern, then make sure you help guide your toddler to using the “pretty” side of the donut. You’ll notice on the donut holes where the glazing ends or where the dough was cut off. Those are the spots that you want on the inside of the tree.
Grab the tools you need to make this donut cake tower
Now it’s time for me to go make another coffee. Happy eating to everyone! To keep browsing around The Worktop, don’t miss these toddler friendly breakfast ideas.
Donut Tree – How to make a Donut Cake Tower with Donut HolesPrint Recipe
- 48 whole donut holes – see notes
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon water
- 3 tablespoons sprinkles
- Cover the entire styrofoam cone in foil because the styrofoam may not be food safe for the donuts to rest directly on them. The donut tree also looks better with a layer of foil once people start taking off the donut holes to eat.
- In a small bowl, make an icing by combining the powdered sugar and the water. Add the water very slowly, so you don't end up with an icing that is too runny. The icing is used to 1) help stabilize the styrofoam base to the plate and 2) glazing about 7-8 donut holes so you can add sprinkles on them.
- Add a bit of the icing to the bottom of the styrofoam cone, and set it on the serving plate. The icing will help stabilize the cone as you put on the donut holes.
- Add the sprinkles to a plate with a lip, or a wide bottom bowl (like a pasta bowl). Gently dip a donut hole in the icing, rolling it a bit so it has a very thin coat around. Roll the donut hole in the bowl of sprinkles. Set aside. Repeat with about 7-8 more donut holes, or as many as you desire.
- Starting at the very bottom of the tree, stick a toothpick into the cone. Stick on a donut hole. Working so the donut holes are touching and almost smushed together, repeat around the entire bottom of the cone.
- Working in layers, slowly build up the tree with toothpicks and donut holes. Insert the toothpick in the cone just enough so that the toothpicks don't stick out of the donut holes. Every so often, stick on one of the sprinkle covered donut holes.
- As you get higher up the tree, you may find that you need to lightly smush the donut holes a bit to get them to fit around the tree. You will also need to start cutting and angling the toothpicks downwards a little bit when you insert them into the cone so the toothpicks don't stick out the other end of the cone.
- Once all the donut cake is complete, then look for any large gaps that might be visible between the donut holes. Take a mini honey comb ball and stick the cocktail stick through the middle so it holds it in place. Insert the decoration into any gaps you want to hide.
- Finish the donut cake with a cake topper on top.