Sunday, April 1, 2012

How to Make an Easter Bunny Coconut Cake: a step by step photo guide, Part 1

When I was a kid, we made an Easter Bunny Cake at least a few years in a row, and it was one of my favorite things to do.  I always loved any holiday tradition, and was the first to beg to carve pumpkins, to unbox all the Christmas decorations (my favorite being the lighted village which I'd arrange on white fabric stuffing sprinkled with glitter to look like snow), to bake a chocolate cherry cake in our heart-shaped cake pan for Valentines, to pick out a new Easter dress and a dorky straw hat for church.

On Sunday morning, we'd wake up to baskets of candy placed at the foot of our beds that had magically appeared overnight (although of course we knew our parents put them there).  My brother and sister and I were obsessed with counting every piece of candy in our baskets.  We had to make sure we all had the same number of Cadbury eggs, green jelly beans, peanut-butter or coconut or marshmallow or strawberry cream filled chocolate-covered eggs, etc...  I was always willing to trade the black licorice jelly beans for another flavor, though.

There was always ham and mashed potatoes for Easter dinner, although never hot cross buns, so I will be making those this year for the first time.  Of course, for most kids, eating dinner, even something as delicious as ham, is really just a chore to get through in order to be allowed to have a piece of candy or cake afterwards.

The wonderful thing about this cake is that it doesn't require any special tools or cake pans, just a little bit of your time and creativity.  It's also such a fun cake to make and decorate with your kids!

For an Easter dinner with some friends next Sunday, I'll be making this cake, but of course I won't be making it until Saturday.  So for Part 1 of the post, I'll provide the instructions (which are crazy easy) for how to make the cake.  Then next Saturday, I'll finish up with Part 2, with photos of my finished cake and the decorating process.

If any of my readers decide to make this cake, cupcakes, or any other cute idea you have, I'd love to see photos, so feel free to post them on my Facebook page!

Here's what you'll need for the Easter Bunny Cake:
  • 2 round 8 or 9-inch cake pans
  • paper
  • marker
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • your favorite cake recipe, homemade or boxed mix
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups frosting
  • gel food coloring
  • 1 bag sweetened, shredded coconut
  • jelly beans, candy eggs, and other assorted Easter candy for decorating

For my own cake, I plan to make a white cake (probably boxed mix to save time) with a little coconut extract, and a fluffy cream cheese coconut icing.  Any flavor combination that you like with coconut would be great!

Step 1:
  • Trace the bottom of your cake pans onto the paper with a marker.

Step 2:
  • Take a ruler or measuring tape and lay it across the middle of one of the circles.  My cake pans are 8 inches, so just adjust your measurements a little if yours are 9 inches.
  • Mark the paper at 3 inches and 5 inches so that you've divided it into thirds, with the middle section being slightly narrower.
  • Now mark the circle at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00.  Using those marks as a guide, mark the paper at 1:00, 5:00, 7:00 and 11:00.  Draw a line to connect the 1:00 and 5:00 marks, through the mark in the center of the paper, to create a football shape.  Do the same to connect the 11:00 and 7:00 marks.

Step 3:
  • Cut out the circles, then cut along the lines you drew in one of the circles.
  • Arrange the pieces of paper as shown below to create a bunny face with ears and a bow-tie.
  • You can now use the paper cutouts as a guide when you're ready to cut and decorate your cake.
  • Just picture how cute it will look once you have it frosted and decorated with icing and candy!

For Part 2 of this post, which I'll continue next Saturday with photos of my cake:

Step 4:
  • Bake your cake and cool it completely.
  • Use the paper cutouts as a guide to cut your cake, then arrange it on a platter or baking sheet.
Step 5:
  • Frost top and all sides of the cake with about 2 cups of white icing, or as much as is needed - be sure your icing is not too thick or it will tear the cut edges of the ears and bow tie.
  • Press 2 cups of the shredded coconut (toasted if you like, or not if you want it pure white) against the sides only of the cake, leaving the top with just the white icing.
Step 6:
  • Take the remaining 1 cup of icing and color small amounts of it with gel food coloring.
  • Pipe it onto the cake (just a plastic baggie with the corner cut off should work just fine) to create bunny features.  Just Google cartoon drawings of bunnies for inspiration!
Step 7:
  • Sprinkle the rest of the coconut onto the platter or baking sheet - you can even dye it green for fun.
  • Scatter assorted candy over the coconut
Step 8:
  • Show it off to your family and friends and enjoy!

Brown Bread Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Raisin Spice Cookies...

Flowers are starting to bloom on trees, and they look so beautiful against the blue sky.  This makes me happy.

It's 80 degrees out right now...  would you believe that tomorrow's forecast is calling for a high of 40 with possible snow?

The cookie situation in our house is looking up, with these soft, cake-like raisin spice cookies I baked Friday night.  They're light and just a little sweet, perfect when you want a cookie that's not too heavy.

Along with the cookies, I tried a recipe for a completely unique "brown bread ice cream" I found in one of my cookbooks.  I was curious how the bread crumbs would taste in the ice cream, and they were just like crumbled cookies, creating a really nice texture in the creamy vanilla bean ice cream.  The cookbook said that brown bread ice cream is a traditional English dessert, so maybe my English friends have heard of it.  It was new to me, and I'm glad I tried it - the texture and taste were so delicious!

Raisin Spice Cookies
printable recipe

  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 cup raisins

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, followed by the milk, stirring just until moistened.  Stir in the raisins.

Refrigerate dough for 2 hours, or until well chilled.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough, shape into a ball and place two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  Slightly flatten each ball so that they bake evenly.

Bake for 8 1/2 - 9 minutes, until a light golden brown.  Cool for several minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (These cookies are actually better eaten cool, rather than hot from the oven.)

Yields about 4 dozen.
WW Points Plus Value:  2 points per cookie

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Brown Bread Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
printable recipe

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs (about 4 slices of bread)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup light cream, half 'n' half, or whole milk
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat the oven to 400.  Brush the oil onto a baking sheet.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs in an even layer on the baking sheet, then sprinkle with the brown sugar and salt.  Bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown;  stir the crumbs often and watch them carefully to ensure they don't burn.  Set aside to cool completely, then use a fork to break up the crumbs.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream and light cream and whip until light and frothy, about 5 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste and whip until combined.  Stir in the cooled bread crumbs.

Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions of your ice cream maker, then transfer to a container to freeze until firm, 4-6 hours.

Yields about 1 quart.
WW Points Plus Value:  7 points per 1/2 cup serving

Recipe adapted from Brown Bread Ice Cream from Ice Cream: The Perfect Weekend Treat, by Susanna Tee