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Festive Holly Cake

Total Time

Prep: 45 min. Bake: 35 min. + cooling


10-12 servings

I learned the brush embroidery technique at a beginner cake-decorating class. Visual appeal is always nice, but what's extra special about this cake is that it tastes as good as it looks. —Paula Simpson, Arnold, Missouri


  • 1 package white cake mix (regular size)
  • 1-1/3 cups water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package (2 pounds) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 2 cups shortening
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon clear butter flavoring
  • 7-3/4 teaspoons water, divided
  • 2/3 cup raspberry cake and pastry filling
  • 1/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • Leaf green, forest green and red paste food coloring


  1. In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans.
  2. Bake at 325° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. For frosting, in a large bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and meringue powder. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, combine the shortening, milk, extracts and flavoring. Beat in sugar mixture (mixture will be stiff).
  4. Using a serrated knife, level tops of cakes if necessary. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup frosting and 2 teaspoons water; spread over cake. Spread with raspberry filling. Top with remaining cake layer.
  5. In a small bowl, combine 2 cups frosting and 4 teaspoons water; frost cake top and sides.
  6. For shell border: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup frosting and 1/2 teaspoon water. Using shell tip #21, pipe shell border along bottom edge of cake.
  7. For holly leaves: Combine 1/2 cup frosting, corn syrup and 1/2 teaspoon water; tint desired color of green with leaf and forest green food coloring. Gently press a 1-1/2-in. holly leaf cookie cutter into frosting. Using round tip #2 with green frosting and working one leaf at a time, outline leaf indentation. Using a dampened clean paintbrush, immediately brush leaf outlines toward center. Moisten brush as needed. Repeat.
  8. For pine branches: Combine 1/4 cup frosting and 1/4 teaspoon water; tint forest green. Using round tip #2, pipe branches.
  9. For holly berries and trim: Combine 1/2 cup frosting and 1/2 teaspoon water; tint red. Using round tip #2, pipe holly berries. Add a red scalloped line above shell border; pipe dots of green frosting if desired. Store in the refrigerator.

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