Fondant Wood Staining Effect

Painting on wood stain.

Cook Time: Whew! No cooking this time.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 piece of “wood” stained rolled fondant

Recipe inspired by:
The Confetti Cakes Cookbook


One of the beautiful aspects of using rolled fondant on a cake is it creates a clean tapestry awaiting your design. A handy design trick I like to use, especially under a cake is to make the fondant look just like a piece of wood. In addition to sitting under the cake, “wood” fondant can also be used to make your cake look like a crate, table or tree bark. On more than one occasion, this technique has stolen the show when I’ve made the cake for an event. The best part is…this technique is ridiculously easy to pull off!

The only real “exotic” ingredient used in this technique is vodka. When painting the stain it is best to use vodka instead of water. Vodka is clear and evaporates which helps the fondant dry. Using water doesn’t work because water causes the fondant to dissolve and melt; which is typically frowned upon when you’re decorating a cake. Deciding how much material to use really depends on what you are doing with the “wood” fondant. To make a piece of wood which covers an 18-inch square cake base I typically use 2 to 2-1/2 pounds of rolled fondant. To cover a 9-inch layer cake, it would take about 1-1/4 pounds of fondant.


White rolled fondant
Brown food coloring gel
Powdered sugar for dusting
2 tablespoons vodka

Step-by-step Directions with Pictures:

White and light brown rolled fondant.

1. Lightly dust the counter with powdered sugar. Divide the white fondant into two equal pieces. Knead a small amount of brown coloring into one piece of fondant. A little color goes a long way so add a little at a time but you want to keep adding color until you reach a light-brown/tan color.

Fondant rolled into ropes.

2. Roll the fondant pieces into two long, skinny ropes; about 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick.

Twisted fondant ropes.

3. Using the white fondant as the base color, twist the brown fondant rope around the white rope. Be careful not to overtwist because you want some white fondant showing through. This creates the irregular markings of the wood grain.

Folded fondant ropes.

4. If the twisted rope is too long, it can be folded in half so the ropes sit next to each other.

Rolled out fondant on a cake board.

5. Roll out the fondant so it is just larger than your cake or cake board. Gently place it over your cake or cake board.

Scoring a wood grain into fondant.

6. Use a skewer, butter knife or other dull kitchen tool to gently score a wood grain pattern into the fondant. This pattern could be knots, wood slats or any other natural-looking wood pattern.

Painting on wood stain.

7. In a small bowl, mix the vodka with a few drops of brown food coloring. Use a pastry brush to paint a thin coat over the entire surface. If the stain is not dark enough, add a little more brown coloring and give the board another coat…but be careful because a little food coloring does go a really long way.
Allow the fondant to completely dry and you’re set.

Baker’s Tips:

  • It may be helpful to have a real piece of wood nearby to look at as you work. This way you can get a really good feel of what the wood should look like.
  • If the wooden fondant is going under a cake board under a cake, I like to make the “wood” a few days in advance. This helps the fondant dry and become harder which will help it stand up to the rigors of travel.
  • It is best to use Wilton-style food coloring gel when coloring fondant and gum paste. The liquid food coloring found in the grocery store tends to bleed.

29 thoughts on “Fondant Wood Staining Effect

  1. I’m going to use this for a Noah’s Ark baby shower cake!
    (I know the ark was made of gopher bark and tar, but this will be prettier.) ;-)

  2. Just happened upon this while searching for a way to get a good effect on a wooden bed cake. Just wondering, to get a darker effect, instead of the light tan wood, could I mix dark brown with light brown instead of white to achieve the look I want. Have you ever done this. Thanks.

    • You totally could but it is really the vodka paint job that gives the wood it’s brown shading. I’ve added darker brown when I wanted a more pronounced wood grain. If you want an overall darker looking piece of wod, try mixing a little more brown coloring into the vodka to make a darker final stain.

  3. question about the vodka….i plan on making a cake for kids and putting vodka in the mix i feel like i need to tell the parents. can you taste the vodka? and will alcohol be in anyone’s system? ive been sober for 6 months now and would to keep all alcohol out of my system. is there anything else i can use?

    • The alcohol evaporates so no one will be partaking of anything that will harm them.
      If you’d like you can use clear vanilla instead

    • I agree with Darthburn. The alcohol evaporates so you really shouldn’t be putting them at too high of a risk of harm from the alcohol. Most of the commercial pure vanilla extracts (including clear vanilla) contain a small amount of alcohol as well so it might be worth checking the label of the vanilla bottle just to be sure.

  4. I’ve NEVER used fondant – always too afraid (I don’t even roll out Christmas cookies anymore). I’ve thinking of trying this for my nieces’ cake. I’m going to try to make a movie star door with a star and her name on it. Any tips?? Please!? How do I roll this bad-boy big enough to cover a large sheet cake?

    • Wow! That sounds like an awesome cake. In a lot of ways rolling fondant is a lot like rolling pie crust. The one thing I always do whenever I roll larger pieces of fondant is to smear vegetable shortening on the counter instead of sprinkling flour or cornstarch. This makes it a stickier at first but the fondant will definitely come off the counter without sticking.

      I also try to flip it over every few rolls to help make sure it doesn’t stick to the counter. Since you are making a door, I would try to roll the fondant to about 1/3-1/4 inch thick if you have enough fondant. This will be a little thicker than is probably desired but it will make the dough more pliable, sturdy and easier to use.

  5. This looks like a lot of fun! Can you use the Wilton pre made fondant, or do you really need to make it from scratch? Thanks!

    • You can totally use pre made fondant. I chose to use homemade fondant because it was something new to try but the premade stuff would work just fine.

  6. Thank you sooo much , Im going to be using this technique this week . My DIL is graduating in education and Im making a deck as a graduation cake . Wish I could let ya know how it turns out . Thank you again, Lisa

    • Congratulations to the daughter-in-law! I’m glad the fondant technique will come in handy for you. Happy baking!

  7. It worked great for me!!!!!! Thankyou! I had to make a fence for a cake I was working on and this gave a great that look that make the cake outstand!

    • Wow, that’s great to hear. I’m so happy the tutorial helped you with the cake!

  8. Does the vodka effect the taste of the fondant? I am intersted in using it to cover a cake, but I still want it to taste good.

    • Nope, the beauty of using the vodka is the alcohol & flavor evaporate as the “stain” dries. It really is better to use vodka instead of water because water will cause the sugar in the fondant to dissolve.

    • @Sommer @ A Spicy Perspective: Does one really need a reason for baking? You could use the technique to make boxes, crates, tables, trees or any other wood-like surface. I really like this technique because it is so fun.

  9. What a fantastic post! Thanks for sharing such a great tip. I’ve never made fondant but you’ve shown me such great potential. I MUST try it!

    • @Shree: You really should try it. Fondant can be a little tricky at first but it is basically play dough for adults.

  10. This is such a good idea! I’ve seen it a few times before but never done like this.
    Thanks for sharing, I’ll definately be trying it.

  11. I have never used fondant because I do not bake many fancy cakes, but I will remember to come back and look at your tips if I ever do. Great step-by-step instructions and I love the wood grain effect. Really neat stuff!

  12. How cool is this?! This has to be one of the most useful & coolest things I’ve seen on a blog in awhile!

    • Thanks! The effect is really easy to pull off and looks really cool under a cake.

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